Aloe Vera

When I think of Aloe Vera, I think of the Spanish island of Tenerife. It was there that I noticed products made of or with the Aloe plant for the first time. It’s difficult not to, drugstores offer dozens of products, in the pedestrian precinct (of Puerto de la Cruz) they’re sold from open stalls.

Pictures of the plant gave me the idea that it might be a small relative of the Agave which I know from Mediterranean countries, yet I learnt that the approximately 300 species of the aloe plant belong to the onion/garlic family. (from the net) “It’s a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to  80-100cm tall, spreading by offsets and root sprouts. The leaves are lanceolate, thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with a serrated margin. The flowers are produced on a spike up to 90cm tall, Each flower pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2-3 cm long.” I’ve yet to see an aloe plant, either the house plant variety or the one grown on plantations for medicinal or cosmetic use.

Botanists agree that it originated in the warm, dry climate of northern Africa. A leaflet I got on Tenerife tells me, however, that the Aloe Vera plant has come from the Canary Islands and that Columbus took some specimens on his third voyage to America where it has been successfully cultivated on plantations ever since. Dear Canarians, I believe the Columbus – America part but not that Aloe Vera originally comes from your part of the world. If that were true, how come that the Egyptians wrote about it already in 1550 BC and that it’s mentioned in the Bible five times? It surely didn’t move from the Canary Islands to Egypt and Palestine but the other way round. I’m willing to believe that the Canarian variety is of especially high quality due to the constant temperature and humidity.

Although I was content with my Dr. Hauschka cosmetics, two Christmases ago (we visit Tenerife at the end of the year) I decided to give in to the lure of the omnipresent Aloe Vera products. I bought a bottle of facial lotion, a pot of Day Cream, a special cream for pigmentation patches, a bottle of body lotion and a tube of 100% pure gel which, according to the info on the tube, would work miracles  on dry skin, burns, scratches, blisters, sores, tired legs, fungal infections, eczema, rashes and stretch marks. The shop-assistant was pleased with my purchase and added a free bar of soap.

I’ve tried different ways of cleaning my face and have found out that I like washcloth and soap best. I can’t say much about the Aloe Vera soap besides that I like using it, it cleans my face without making the skin too dry. The lotion I apply afterwards is fresh, it wakes me up in the morning, my skin tickles slightly, a sensation I like, it gives me the feeling that the lotion finds irritated areas in my face and soothes them. The same happens when I apply the Day Cream, a short tickling, then my skin feels smooth and good. The cream doesn’t have a distinct smell, it doesn’t leave an oily film on my face and vanishes quickly. I use the day cream also for the night as I find special night cream too greasy. I’ve used it for a year now and haven’t gone back to my old cosmetic products yet, sorry, Dr. Hauschka.

The body lotion is OK, not spectacular, though, I wouldn’t use it if I didn’t use other Aloe Vera products, too, but as I do, it fits in well.

I had high hopes regarding the ant pigmentation cream as old age has ‘blessed’ me with some dark patches on my lower left jaw. The shop-assistant told me that if I applied the cream twice a day for three months, the dark patches would disappear completely or at least become much lighter. I followed her advice religiously but, alas, to no avail. What had changed after three months? Nothing, nada, zilch!

My favourite product is the 100% pure gel, I can’t praise it enough. When I bought it, I had an annoying itch on one shoulder blade. The gel is wonderfully cool, when I applied it, I sighed with pleasure. I have to admit that the itch didn’t disappear, but it didn’t disappear, either, with the salve prescribed later by a dermatologist. It was stress related, when the stress had gone, the itch went, too. But the Aloe Vera gel helped me to endure it, I didn’t have to rub my shoulder blade at door frames and wardrobes so often. It’s also the best hand cream I’ve ever used. After applying it the skin is sticky for three seconds (I counted), when the gel has vanished, my hands are as smooth as a baby’s bottom.

This 100% pure Aloe Vera gel is the only product of the range I bought which I can’t find in a German shop or on the net (which doesn‘t mean that it isn‘t there). I tried two different kinds which claimed to be 100% pure, but either they weren’t or they were mixed with other ingredients, anyway, they weren’t the real thing and I was not satisfied. So when I went to Tenerife again last Christmas, I bought five tubes as stockpile for one year.

I’ve learnt that the thick, clear liquid inside the Aloe Vera leaves contains over 75 key nutritional compounds including minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes. It’s said that the benefits are due to the synergy between the different compounds and not the consequence of one magic ingredient. Side effects or adverse reactions are unknown and Aloe Vera can be used by everyone of any age.

I’ve read that Aloe Vera can also be used internally , it’s recommended in case of heartburn, digestive disorders, diabetes and high cholesterol. As I suffer from the latter, I’m going to try the juice next, if it doesn’t help, it won’t at least do any harm, I’m sure.

I’ve told you about my experience with some cosmetic products and the medicinal benefits of Aloe Vera I’ve read about but I won’t say anything about the third use mentioned in the Bible (Proverbs 7, 17), namely, “I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until morning, let us delight ourselves with love.” If you’re interested, research this use yourselves!


Written by MALU
I’m a German teacher of English and Italian and live in Germany.

Category: Treating Eczema
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