This plant belongs to the Aloeacee family, it is perennial and can reach a height of one meter. Its peculiarity is represented by the leaves that are lanceolate and have thorns at the edges. The surface is covered with a thick cuticle below which is a leaf parenchyma consisting of a gelatinous and translucent substance. Precisely this parenchyma constitutes the most interesting part of the entire plant thanks to its healing properties. The flowers are actually raceme inflorescences with enlarged axis, they grow in the center of the plant rising on it. The color generally varies from yellow to red.
There are about 30 different Aloe species, although by convention, when talking about this plant, it is commonly referred to as Aloe vera, the most widespread.
Aloe has now spread throughout the world but in reality it prefers tropical climates and because of its leaves rich in water it is able to survive even long periods of drought, to then refill watery substances with first rains available.
In the Mediterranean the Aloe is particularly widespread, especially in the hottest and driest areas, as in Arabia, in the sandy areas, in India and in the coasts of Africa.
In the rest of the world it is widespread especially in Autralia, but it does not disdain Central and South America.
The history of the Aloe dates back to thousands of years ago, when the populations that lived at the time already exploited the curative properties of this plant, leaving their testimony to the following ones, up to us.
Near the Mesopotamian city of Nippur, a clay tablet dating back to 1750 BC was found. in which, through a cuneiform writing, there were references to the properties of this plant.
Even the Egyptians used it, as reported by the famous Papyrus Ebers, dating back to 1550 BC in which the uses that were made of this plant are described, both for healing and cosmetic purposes. According to legend, Nefertiti and Cleopatra also used Aloe to keep themselves beautiful and young.
Also Alexander the Great was aware of this plant that he used to treat the wounds of the soldiers and it is said that he conquered Socotra only to grab the huge quantity of Aloe present in it.
There are also testimonies dating back to 40 AD in the altar Rome, when, during Nero's empire, Dioscorides Pedanio wrote a herbarium of eight hundred and thirteen plants of which he described the beneficial and curative properties and among which appeared the Aloe. Since that time, it has been described as a plant with anti-haemorrhagic, soothing, moisturizing properties, useful for treating wounds, burns, but also for inflammation of the upper respiratory tract.
The American populations enjoy a vast repertoire of legends on the Aloe plant, among which the best known is that of the Fountain of Youth according to which, who bathed in a water source surrounded by Aloe plants would have had the immortalitа.
The name Aloe Vera was given to this plant by medieval monks to distinguish it from other less noble species.
Moving on to our times, one can read a eulogy of this plant written by one of the most important figures that ever existed, Mahatma Gandhi. He used Aloe as an aid during the periods of fasting and writes that he met her when he arrived in South Africa.
Aloe vera contains many substances that are complementary to those present in our body and which are often sought in various types of medicines or supplements. In this plant we find:
Vitamin a, b1, b2. b3, b6, b12, c, e, folic acid, niacin.
Mineral salts such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, copper, iron, manganese, potassium and silicon.
Mono and polysaccharides such as cellulose, glucose, mannose, galactose, xylose, lactose, sucrose, starch and glycogen.
Enzymes such as phosphatases, amylases, lipases, catalases, proteases.
Essential amino acids such as Leucine, Isoleucine, methionine, lysine, alanine, valine, tryptophan.
Already based on this little information about this plant we realize how important it is as an aid to our health.
Aloe is widely used for the production of both medicines and cosmetics and in the last few years its cultivation has also spread to simple houses so that everyone can have it available for the most varied uses.
Its properties are called adaptogens because they have a different effect depending on the person who exploits them.
They can be expressed both externally to the organism and internally.
The part of the plant that is mostly used for production is beneficial and is the internal part of the leaf that appears as a sticky and transparent gel.
It is used in a very simple way as it is extracted from the plant, or it can be processed together with other elements to obtain more effective and complex packs.
When to use it
First of all it has anti-inflammatory properties and therefore acts by reducing redness, pain and swelling given, for example, by muscle tension, tearing but also by various types of burns, including sunburn.
It has the ability to hydrate tissues as well as anti-aging properties. Precisely for these reasons it is widely used in vegetable cosmetics. In fact, there are aloe vera-based sunscreens, believed to be after-sun, there are moisturizers for the body and hands that use the healing, moisturizing effect of Aloe. It is also often added later to creams used daily to increase beneficial effects. This procedure must be carried out at the moment, and not too early in relation to the time of use because otherwise you risk not being able to fully exploit the benefits of this plant.
As already mentioned, Aloe has healing properties and is therefore used to treat small wounds, sores, but also acne and blackheads for which it performs a double moisturizing and healing action.
Another important beneficial effect of aloe is that of natural antibiotic. It has the ability to function as an antimicrobial and is therefore effective in treating wounds at risk of infection, mucosal infections.
Aloe can also be used internally as in cases of intestinal inflammation, spasms, digestive difficulties.
One of the uses that can be made especially in the autumn and winter periods is that aimed at strengthening the immune system. Aloe possesses acemannan, which is a complex sugar, which stimulates the production of immune substances such as interferon and interleukin. But in a general way it can be used whenever you feel the need, when you go through a period of stress, an overload of commitments or maybe in the period following a hospitalization.
Families often tend to make massive use of synthetic antipyretics which however present numerous contraindications. In fact, aloe can be used which has antipyretic properties, reducing the sensation of pain and heat caused by sores and inflammation.
To conclude, Aloe is a concentrate of essential substances for our life and is readily available and usable.
Aloe plants: How to grow it
It can be cultivated comfortably at home both in pots and in the garden. It can be multiplied by cuttings, which must be done in summer. It is a plant that likes a variable temperature from 20 to 24 ° C and does not survive well below zero. It requires an almost constant water supply in summer and little water in winter. It is a fairly delicate plant that requires special care both in cultivation and in harvesting.
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