Aloe barbadensis miller, or Aloe vera, is a succulent plant commonly known for the healing power of its spiky, fleshy leaves.
Valued as an herbal remedy for millennia, Aloe vera is traditionally used to heal wounds, relieve itching and swelling, and is known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
(There are hundreds of species of Aloe grown around the world, but only a few of them have therapeutic properties. So while that beautifully striped succulent on your desk may be an Aloe plant, that doesn’t mean you should snap a leaf and apply it to your fresh burn.)
Active Compounds of Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is the species best researched, with over 200 compounds, about 75 of which have therapeutic, biological activity.
- Amino Acids – contains 20 of the 22 human required amino acids, including 7 of the 8 essential amino acids.
- Enzymes – including bradykinase, which helps to reduce excessive inflammation when applied to the skin topically.
- Minerals – including calcium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium, and zinc.
- Vitamins – A (beta-carotene), C, & E, which act as antioxidants; B (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, and B12), as well as essential fatty acid (linoleic/vitamin F), and choline.
- Sterols – fatty acids with anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and analgesic effects.
- Hormones – auxins and gibberellins, which aid in wound healing through growth factors and have anti-inflammatory effects.
- Sugars – mono- and polysaccharides that bind moisture in the skin.
- Lignin – an inert substance that enhances product penetration when Aloe is used topically.
Aloe vera in Skin Care
Formulators use Aloe primarily for skin hydration, healing, and preventing heat-related damage to inflamed skin.
Aloe vera extracts provide suppleness and moisture to skin. The abundant amino acids soften hardened skin cells and have a cohesive effect on superficial flakes, sticking them together to repair dry, cracked, and stressed skin.
With its water-binding, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, antiseptic, healing, soothing, and emollient properties, is it any wonder that Aloe vera is a popular ingredient in skin care cosmetics?
P. Atherton, “Aloe vera: Magic or Medicine”, Nurs. Stand. 12, 41-52, (1998).
R. H. Davis, “Aloe vera: A Scientific Approach,” Vantage Press Inc., New York, 1997.
Surjushe, Amar, Resham Vasani, and D G Saple. “ALOE VERA: A SHORT REVIEW.” Indian Journal of Dermatology 53.4 (2008): 163–166. PMC. Web. 21 May 2018.
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