The Apothecary for Skincare

THE APOTHECARY

  • AVOCADO OIL (Persea gratissima) – A nutrient-packed fruit is loaded with good fatty acids, proteins, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins A, D, and E. Especially helpful for mature skin. Organic.
  • BEESWAX (Cera Alba) – Protectant, helps keep moisture in the skin, high Vitamin A content. Raw, Organic.
  • ALOE (Aloe barbadensis) – Plumps and soothes skin, Vitamin & mineral rich. Organic.
  • AHA’S (Alpha hydroxy acids) – Exfoliator, increases blood flow to skin, balances and evens skin tone.
  • BLACKBERRY (Rubus fruticosus) – Blackberry is a rich source of Vitamin C which can help in collagen production and in reducing the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles. It has an impressive amount of naturally occurring Vitamin E as well as essential fatty acids to deeply support the skin. It’s beautiful darker color is attributed to naturally occurring polyphenols.
  • BLUEBERRY (Vaccinium corymbosum) – Antioxidant. Helps promote the health of capillaries located just beneath the epidermis. Can help minimize redness.
  • CALENDULA (Calendula officinalis) – High Vitamin C content, collagen building. Organic.
  • CHAMOMILE (Matricaria chamomilla) – Anti-inflammatory, soothes skin, Organic.
  • COMFREY (Symphytum officinale) – anti-inflammatory, soothes skin, Organic.
  • CRANBERRY (Vaccinum macrocarpon) – Contain resveratrol, high Vitamin C for collagen-building, antiseptic properties. Organic.
  • COCONUT (Cocos nucifera) – Soothes, reduces water loss in the skin, packed with nutrients.
  • COCOA BUTTER (Theobroma seed butter) – High in fatty acids, hydrates the skin deeply. Raw, Organic.
  • DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol) – membrane stabilizer, improves skin tone. Vegan.
  • GERANIUM (Pelargonium asperum) – Helps improve skintone. Organic.
  • HONEY (Mel) – Moisturizing, antibacterial, raw and unprocessed from the Bodyceuticals Apiary. Non-treated hives. Certified pollinator is friendly.
  • HYALURONIC ACID (Sodium hyaluronate) – Helps to keep tissues hydrated and plump.
  • JOJOBA (Simmondsia Chinensis) – Soothing, gentle and deeply moisturizing for most all skin types. Organic.
  • KUKUI (Aleurites moluccana) – High in essential fatty acids,  readily absorbed, very moisturizing.
  • LAVENDER (Lavandula angustifolia) – Helps tissues to heal, lessens scarring. Organic
  • OLIVE (Olea europaea) – Highly effective transdermal carrier.   Organic, Kosher.
  • FRUIT STEM CELLS (Apple) – Help to rejuvenate aging skin and lessen the appearance of wrinkles. Clinical trials show that with use, the skin has a more youthful and radiant appearance. Organic.
  • MSM (MethylSulfonylMethane) – Helps to build collagen, assists with cell hydration.
  • NEEM (Azadirachta indica) – Often used for itchy, irritated skin, has antifungal properties and can provide improvement with scars and hyperpigmentation.
  • OAT STRAW (Avena sativa) – Rich in minerals. Organic.
  • PINK GRAPEFRUIT (Citrus paradisi) – High in Vitamin C, builds collagen. Fresh cold-pressed.
  • POMEGRANATE (Punica granatum) – contain sun protective compounds, helps reduce breakouts, show to improve hyperpigmentation.
  • ROSE (Rosa damascena) – Middle note, “flower of love”, farm-grown. Organic.
  • ROOIBOS (Aspalathus linearis) – Antioxidant, Anti-fungal.
  • RASPBERRY (Rubus Idaeus – Contain a high amount of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and rich in antioxidants. Can help tone skin. Organic.
  • ROSEMARY (Rosmarinus officinalis) – Contains vitamin & minerals such as calcium, has cell regenerative properties, helps tighten sagging skin.
  • SEA BUCKTHORN (Hippophae rhamnoides) – High Vitamin C content and carotenoids, amino acids, minerals, vitamin E, polyphenols and omegas. Can help with redness and swelling. Organic.
  • SEAWEED (Laminaria digitata) – Rich in minerals and trace elements, high vitamin content, helps build elastin in the skin.  High quality from France.
  • SPEARMINT (Mentha spicata) – Pure, refreshing, restorative properties. Organic.
  • TEA TREE (Melaleuca alternifolia) – Antibacterial, Antifungal. Organic.
  • VANILLA BEAN (Vanilla planifolia) – A source of B Vitamins, antibacterial, helpful in hair care, smells amazing.
  • STRAWBERRY (Fragaria Vesca) – Contains the antioxidant ellagic acid, which prevents collagen destruction—one of the major causes of wrinkle formation. Has a photoprotective effect. Organic
  • VITAMIN C – Naturally found in Calendula, protects and builds collagen.
  • VITAMIN E – Natural preservative, soothes sensitive skin. Non-GMO.

A Miracle Herb for Face, Skin and Hair; Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera Gel and Aloe Vera Juice are extracted from the leaves of the Aloe Vera plant, a botanical that the ancient Egyptians often referred to as “The Plant of Immortality” or “The Plant of Eternity.” It was believed that the “blood” of the Aloe Vera plant would not only address symptoms of fevers, soothe burns and wounds, and enhance daily cosmetic applications, but that it would also magnify beauty and promote imperishability. Known for having anti-bacterial properties, the contents of the Aloe Vera plant were used in embalming rituals, as it was believed that the deceased could achieve everlasting life, both physically and spiritually, if their bodies could be prevented from decomposing.

Even before the Egyptians, the benefits of the Aloe Vera plant’s gel and juice were recognized by the Mesopotamians, who used it for the internal cleansing of their intestines. In this society, physical ailments were believed to be demonic possessions, and it was believed that a “divine” plant, namely the Aloe Vera plant, could eliminate the body’s “demons.” Inscriptions about this healthful plant from this time were written on clay boards and are considered to be the earliest documentation of Aloe Vera.

Although indigenous to Africa, the Aloe Vera plant has been cultivated worldwide, specifically in tropical and subtropical regions. Throughout history, it has been used as a staple in the traditional medicinal preparations of various communities, including Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Indian. In these and other societies, Aloe Vera Gel and Juice have been taken orally and applied topically to calm inflammation, to support and act as a tonic for digestive health, to heal wounds and prevent scarring, to ease pain, to enhance the overall health of skin and hair, and to address particular health concerns.

In the 16th century, Native American tribes regarded the Aloe plant as one of their many “holy” and “god-like” botanicals, which they worshipped and called “The Burn/Medicine/and Mystery Plant.” Within these communities, Aloe Juice was often diluted and applied to the skin as an insect repellant, which helped protect the tribes from insect-infested swamps through which they often had to march. This insect repellant application was also used as a preservative for materials, such as wood, that was susceptible to damage caused by pests.

Now sometimes referred to as “a pharmacy in a plant,” Aloe Vera Gel and Juice continue to be used to address pain, burns, symptoms of diabetes, high cholesterol, and arthritis, among other health conditions and complaints. It is a valued ingredient in cosmetics, such as moisturizers, masks, toners, hair products, and aftershave products. It is also commonly found in ointments for sunburns as well as dietary supplements and drinks.

An Aloe leaf consists of two parts: the gel and the juice.

The gel is the clear, odorless, mucilaginous, innermost portion of the leaf, and it is the most prevalent form and use of the Aloe plant. It is largely composed of water but also contains vitamins, a protein consisting of several amino acids, and organic and inorganic compounds.

The juice, also known as “Aloe Latex,” is the yellow, strong-smelling, bitter-tasting sap that is found between the leaf’s green inner skin and the gel. This is the liquid that drips from the Aloe leaf when it is cut.

Although the gel and the liquid share similar benefits and can both be used directly and safely on the skin, they are not identical and have distinct properties, thus the terms Aloe Gel and Aloe Juice are not used interchangeably in this article. NDA carries Aloe Vera Gel Juice, which is obtained by stripping away the outer leaf rind, rinsing away the Aloe Latex, and then de-pulping the inner fillets.

I will show you the various benefits and safe uses of NDA’s Aloe Vera Gel Juice, the consistency of which is more like that of a juice (although it should not be mistaken for the drinkable Aloe Vera Juice).

The benefits of Aloe Vera Gel Juice are wide-ranging, earning itself the reputation of being able to address various discomforts, including those associated with allergies, acne, abrasions, asthma, sores, blisters, bruises, burns, blood pressure, constipation, coughs, colds, colic, dry and chapped skin, hair loss, rashes, inflammation, fungal infections, headaches, indigestion, insect bites and stings, jaundice, joint pain, cramps, moles, nausea, razor burn, stretch marks, shingles, sciatic nerve, tendonitis, ulcers,  varicose veins, windburn, various types of wounds, and warts, to name only a few conditions for which it is believed to offer relief.

Used cosmetically, Aloe Vera Gel Juice can hydrate, exfoliate, nourish, clarify, and revitalize the skin and hair. Its antioxidant activity and richness in vitamins help it to repair skin and hair damage and to protect them before and after the harmful effects of UV radiation. Its smoothing quality helps to prevent and diminish the appearance of wrinkles, making it ideal for “anti-aging” formulations as well as formulations for acne, psoriasis, and dermatitis. It moisturizes without leaving skin or hair with a greasy residue, which makes it beneficial for oily skin and hair types. Aloe Vera is believed to help fade tans and stretch marks.

The natural emollience and anti-irritant property of Aloe Vera Gel Juice make it ideal for use in formulations for cosmetics such as creams, lotions, makeup, soaps, sunscreens, shaving cream, shampoos, and even tissues and incense. When used in beauty applications, it can make a suitable moisturizer as well as a makeup primer for use before the application of foundation, and it can effectively function as a makeup remover.

AloeVeraGelJuice_CaptionImage

Used in massage applications, Aloe Vera Gel Juice is reputed to soothe muscular aches, joint pain, inflammation, wounds, burns, frostbite, and infections. It is also believed to stimulate skin regeneration, thereby improving the look of skin afflicted with dryness, flaking, and other uncomfortable topical conditions, whether it is on the body or the scalp. As a source of protein, it is believed to enhance energy as well as promote the development of muscles.

Used medicinally, Aloe Vera Gel Juice works to eliminate bodily toxins, increase the body’s antioxidant activity, balance digestive fluid, and enhance the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, thus supporting the health and function of the immune system. Its anti-inflammatory function helps the body repair damage to the skin and tissues, making it ideal for not only soothing wounds and burns but also for easing the discomfort of joint pain. It is also believed to be effective for addressing stubborn conditions such as skin ulcers and dandruff.

Aloe Vera Gel Juice is reputed to have many therapeutic properties. The following highlights its many benefits and the kinds of activity it is believed to show:

  • COSMETIC: Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant, Smoothing, Protective, Nourishing Clarifying, Soothing, Hydrating
  • MEDICINAL: Anti-Bacterial, Anti-Inflammatory, Antioxidant, Soothing, Protective, Nourishing, Anti-Viral, Wound-Healing

ALOE VERA GEL JUICE USES

Used in cosmetic and topical applications, Aloe Vera Gel Juice is often used to help soothe and facilitate the healing of sunburned skin with its protective, hydrating, and restorative qualities. To make a hydrating ointment that is reputed to have these therapeutic effects on sunburned skin, begin by thoroughly combining 2 Tbsp. Aloe Vera Gel Juice, 2 Tbsp. of Coconut Carrier Oil, and 3 drop Lavender Essential Oil either by blending them together in a food processor or by whipping them together with a fork. To use this blend, apply it gently to affected areas of skin and allow it to remain on the skin for as long as possible. This salve can be reapplied 2-3 times a day until significant improvements are noticeable. The remainder of this blend can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the refrigerator. If the mixture hardens before the next topical application, simply stir the ingredients together again.

For a fast-absorbing moisturizer, that hydrates without leaving a greasy residue on the skin and has a smoothing effect on the look of fine lines, begin by pouring the following ingredients into an amber dropper bottle with the help of a small funnel: 4 Tbsp. Aloe Vera Gel Juice, 1 tsp. Vegetable Glycerin, ½ tsp. Argan Carrier Oil, and ¼ tsp. Watermelon Seed Carrier Oil. Next, add 4 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil and 4 drops Lavender Essential Oil. Cap the bottle, then shake it well to thoroughly combine all the ingredients. To use this facial serum, first, cleanse the face and pat it dry. Place 3 drops of the blend onto the palm and rub the palms together before applying it to the face like a typical moisturizer. This thin, light blend is ideal for those with oily skin and can be used before makeup application as well as after shaving.

For an anti-microbial, balancing, an overnight facial serum that is reputed to soothe and promote the skin’s regeneration and the faster healing of acne, begin by diluting 3 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil in 3 tsp. Aloe Vera Gel Juice. After thoroughly mixing the two ingredients together, simply apply this blend to the affected areas of the face and leave it on like an overnight face mask. In the morning, rinse off the mask. This nightly regimen is believed to have a skin-regenerative effect and can be applied each night until the appearance of pimples and/or scarring is visibly diminished. It is also ideal for addressing irritation, inflammation, and blisters.

For a hydrating face mask that is reputed to promote skin’s elasticity, smoothness, and firmness, begin by combining equal amounts of Aloe Vera Gel Juice, Glycerol, Water, and Ground Oat Flakes in a bowl. Mix the ingredients together until the blend achieves the consistency of a paste. Next, apply this blend to the face in a thin layer to make a mask. After leaving the mask on for 5 minutes, rinse it off with cool water. This application is believed to promote the skin’s rejuvenation for a younger-looking complexion.

To decrease the appearance of stretch marks, begin by whisking together ½ Virgin Coconut Carrier Oil and 1/3 cup Aloe Vera Gel Juice, then transfer the blend to an air-tight container. To use this mixture, massage a small amount into the areas of skin affected by stretch marks and allow it to penetrate into the skin overnight. This moisturizer can be applied to the affected areas nightly before going to bed. Results are reputed to be visible after following this regimen every night for 3-4 weeks.

For a natural makeup remover blend that is gentle enough to apply to the sensitive eye area, begin by pouring ½ cup of Aloe Vera Gel Juice, 1 cup filtered water, and ¼ cup Organic Extra Virgin Olive Carrier Oil into a blender and thoroughly blending all the ingredients together. Strain the resultant blend with a sieve, then transfer the filtered blend to a clean bottle that will make it easy to dispense the cleanser onto a cotton pad. As the mixture settles inside the bottle, it is normal for the oil to float to the top. To use this cleanser, shake it well to incorporate the floating oil, then pour a small amount onto a clean cotton pad and swipe it across the entire face. Areas of skin with more tenacious makeup, such as waterproof mascara, may require extra swipes of the saturated pad.

For an exfoliating facial scrub that is reputed to promote smoother skin as well as enhance skin’s natural radiance, thoroughly combine 1 Tbsp. Aloe Vera Gel Juice, ¼ cup Brown Sugar, and 1 Tbsp. Extra-Virgin Olive Carrier Oil. Apply this blend to the face and the body, gently rubbing it in small circles to promote the skin’s exfoliation. Rinse the scrub off with warm water followed by cool water and pat the skin dry.

For a soothing, cleansing face mask that also hydrates and balances the skin’s oil production, begin by pouring 1 Tbsp. Sugar into ½ Tbsp. Milk until the Sugar liquifies. To this, add 2 Tbsp. Aloe Vera Gel Juice and thoroughly combine all ingredients with a spoon. Scoop this blend onto the fingertips and apply it to the face in a thin layer to create a mask. Leave the mask on for 20 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. This regimen can be repeated daily.

For a strengthening hairspray that is reputed to contribute shine to the strands while working to eliminate frizz, begin by combining 1 cup warm water, 1 Tbsp. Aloe Vera Gel Juice and 5 drops Lavender Essential Oil in a small mixing bowl. Transfer this blend to a clean spray bottle. To use this mist, simply shake it well and spray it onto the scalp and strands. If hair is damp, the spray can be spritzed on generously. If the hair is dry, a light spritz is recommended. This conditioning spray is believed to soothe and prevent dandruff, itchiness, and inflammation as well as balance the scalp’s pH level, repair damage, and encourage the growth of longer and stronger hair.

For a hair treatment mask that can be applied before shampooing, begin by thoroughly combining the following ingredients in a small mixing bowl: ½ cup Aloe Vera Gel Juice and 2 Tbsp. a Carrier Oil of personal preference. To apply this mask, section the hair and smooth the blend onto each section. Allow the mask to penetrate the hair and scalp for 20 minutes, then shampoo and condition the hair as usual.

For a softening leave-in conditioner that eliminates knots and tangles and promotes stronger hair growth, combine the following ingredients in a clean, empty shampoo bottle: 2 Tbsp. the leave-in conditioner of personal preference, 2 Tbsp. Aloe Vera Gel Juice, 2 tsp. Castor Carrier Oil, and 2 Tsp. Jojoba Carrier Oil. Cap the bottle and shake it well to thoroughly combine all the ingredients. To use this blend, apply it like a regular leave-in conditioner, then store the remainder in the refrigerator.

Aloe Vera Gel Juice is believed to make an ideal shaving gel and can be applied to all the usual places that require hair removal, although it is recommended to avoid sensitive areas. Used after a shave, it is known to offer soothing relief.

To hydrate dry and cracked heels, create a moisturizing overnight foot mask by combining ½ cup Oatmeal, ¼ cup Aloe Vera Gel Juice, and ½ cup a preferred body lotion. Apply this blend to the feet. To enhance the hydrating property of this mixture, keep the feet covered with socks.

For a nourishing treatment that is reputed to diminish the signs of aging on the hands, simply combine 1 Tbsp. Aloe Vera Gel Juice and 1 tsp. Coconut Carrier Oil in a clean bottle. To use this conditioning moisturizer, pour the required amount of the oil blend onto the palms to gently warm it up before massaging it into the hands like a regular moisturizer. Next, rinse the oil off with warm water and pat the hands dry.

Used in medicinal applications, Aloe Vera Gel Juice soothes and cools the skin, helps boost immunity, and protects the body against harmful bacteria that could potentially lead to infections. For a simple application that soothes insect stings and bites and that calms minor burns and inflammation, begin by pouring Aloe Vera Gel Juice into an ice cube tray. After the frozen cubes have formed, simply rub one cube in small circles on the area affected by swelling.

To make a natural, non-drying, Aloe-based hand sanitizer, begin by combining the following ingredients in a clean spray bottle: ½ cup Aloe Vera Gel Juice and ¼ cup Alcohol. To add a pleasant scent, simply add 3 drops of an essential oil of personal preference. Cap the bottle and shake it well to thoroughly combine all the components. To use this cleansing and disinfecting blend, spray it onto the palms and massage the cleanser into the hands like a regular sterilizing gel.

A GUIDE TO ALOE VERA GEL JUICE VARIETIES & THEIR BENEFITS

ALOE VERA GEL JUICE (DECOLORIZED) RAW MATERIAL

INCI: Aloe Vera Gel Juice (and) Citric Acid (and) Sodium Benzoate (and) Potassium Sorbate

Country of Origin: Canada

Believed to:

  • Be a thin liquid designed for application in manufacturing processes
  • Be ideal for use in formulations for soaps, creams, lotions, and other cosmetics
  • Be safe for direct application to the skin but should not be confused with a gel
  • Spoil and become contaminated with microorganisms, if not properly stored and used in combination with a preservative system
  • Contain Vitamin B complex, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, and Carotene
  • Be a well-respected moisturizing agent

CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR ALOE VERA GEL JUICE

Aloe Vera Gel Juice is for external use only. It is imperative to consult a medical practitioner before using this raw material for therapeutic purposes. Pregnant and nursing women are especially advised not to use Aloe Vera Gel Juice without the medical advice of a physician, as it may have an effect on certain hormone secretions and it is unclear whether these effects are transferable to babies at these stages of development. It should always be stored in an area that is inaccessible to children, especially those under the age of 7.

Those with the following health conditions are recommended to be advised by a physician: diabetes, intestinal conditions (e.g. Crohn’s Disease), hemorrhoids, kidney problems, cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders, or hormone-related ailments. Individuals that are taking prescription drugs, undergoing major surgery, or who are at a greater risk of experiencing strokes, heart attacks, or atherosclerosis are also advised to seek medical consultation prior to use. Those with allergies to Garlic, Onions, or Tulips should avoid the use of Aloe Vera Gel Juice.

Prior to using Aloe Vera Gel Juice, a skin test is recommended. This can be done by diluting 1 drop in 4 drops of a Carrier Oil and applying a dime-size amount of this blend to a small area of skin that is not sensitive. Aloe Vera Gel Juice must never be used near the inner nose, ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin.

Potential side effects of Aloe Vera Gel Juice include hives, irritation, inflammation, burning, redness (possible redness of the eyelids), the drying, hardening, and splitting of skin, purple spots, rashes, and swelling. Aloe Vera Gel Juice may also slow down the healing of surgical wounds.

Those seeking medical care to manage moods, behaviors, or disorders should treat this product as a complementary remedy rather than a replacement for any medicinal treatments or prescriptions. In the event of an allergic reaction, discontinue use of the product and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.

Because Aloe Vera Gel Juice is a water-based product, if it is not used in conjunction with a preservative system, it could naturally become contaminated with bacteria, resulting in a toxic and thus unusable product. For this reason, it is important to ensure its proper storage away from heat, direct sunlight, and other factors that could cause it to become rancid faster.

IN ESSENCE…

    • Aloe Vera Gel and Aloe Vera Juice are extracted from the leaves of the Aloe Vera plant.
    • An Aloe Vera leaf consists of two parts: the gel and the juice. Although the gel and the liquid share similar benefits and can both be used directly and safely on the skin, they are not identical substances and have distinct properties.
    • Used cosmetically, Aloe Vera Gel Juice can hydrate, exfoliate, nourish, clarify, and revitalize the skin and hair. It helps protect the skin and hair before and after the harmful effects of UV radiation, and it works to repair the damage. It also helps to prevent and diminish the appearance of wrinkles, acne, psoriasis, and dermatitis. It moisturizes without leaving skin and hair with a greasy residue and it helps fade tans and stretch marks.
    • Used in massage applications, Aloe Vera Gel Juice is reputed to soothe muscular aches, joint pain, inflammation, wounds, burns, frostbite, and infections. It is also believed to stimulate skin regeneration, enhance energy, and promote the development of muscles.
  • Used medicinally, Aloe Vera Gel Juice works to eliminate bodily toxins, increase the body’s antioxidant activity, balance digestive fluid, and enhance the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, thus supporting the health and function of the immune system. It helps the body repair damage to the skin and tissues and eases other physical discomforts, such as the symptoms of arthritis.

Healing With Aloe Vera

After some quick research, I learned that Aloe has “male” and “female” plants, so to speak. The female acts like a mother plant and sprouts new babies on a pretty regular basis, and the leaves tend to be smaller and thinner; the male plants will grow larger, their leaves becoming longer and thicker. I’ve propagated a few of the male plants out of the main pot so they have more room to grow, but I still have a wonderful surplus of aloe.

The Benefits of Aloe Vera

Most people know that aloe is wonderfully applied topically. It has many benefits for the skin, tightening and soothing, calming the sting of a burn, or because of it’s anti-bacterial qualities even disinfecting minor cuts or scratches. But I had seen aloe leaves available at select grocery stores and have friends that I know blend them into smoothies, which got me curious. Very serendipitously, Jonathan handed me an article he had come across on the health benefits of aloe and my research then began in earnest. As it turns out, the benefits of ingesting aloe have been known for thousands of years—I’ve read that the ancient Egyptians called it the “plant of immortality” and Native Americans “the wand of heaven”—but this knowledge doesn’t seem to be all that common. In more recent years, the actual composition of aloe has been studied and it now could be called a superfood. The gel in the leaves contains at least 75 nutrients, 20 minerals, 12 vitamins, 18 amino acids, and 200 active enzymes.

Some of the benefits found after ingesting aloe on a regular basis include (and these are only a few benefits found after relatively quick research):

  • Anti-Carcinogenic
  • Hydrating
  • Lowers high cholesterol and high blood pressure
  • Blood Tonic
  • Eases inflammation and soothes arthritis pain
  • Protects the body from oxidative stress
  • Protects the kidneys, prevents kidney stones and protects the body from oxalates in coffee and tea
  • Alkalizes the body
  • Alleviates ulcers, IBS, Crohn’s disease, and other digestive disorders
  • Nourishes the body
  • Alleviates constipation
  • Prevents and treats candida infections
  • Balancing electrolytes making it great for post-workout hydration
  • Boosts cardiovascular performance and physical endurance
  • Speeds recovery from injury or physical exertion
  • Hydrates the skin, accelerates skin repair
  • Good for oral health when mixed with water and used as a mouthwash

After the long, cold winter months, my skin, eyes, and body feel tight and dry, and my energy is low—there’s just a general sense of depletion after spending so long indoors with the heat on and the stark contrast of crisp, dry, and cold winter air. I was particularly attracted to the hydrating and detoxifying qualities of aloe and proceeded to experiment with cultivating and preparing it. Some choose to blend it, although there is some debate if this action destroys some of the more complex nutrients of the plant, so I opted to muddle the gel into a pretty yummy, hydrating drink (which I think I will freeze and turn into hydrating, energy boosting popsicles for the summer and during my upcoming child-labour!).

Harvesting and Filleting Aloe

You can buy aloe leaves at some select grocery or health stores, and you can also purchase aloe juice or gel, but like many things if possible, harvest fresh leaves for maximum benefit. Grow a plant (tips below) and harvest as much as you can without destroying the plant and then supplement with a store-bought product in between. To harvest your aloe, using a sharp knife, cut the leaf at the base of the stem. Place on a cutting board and remove the serrated edges of the leaf. Then, place your palm flat on the broad side of the leaf and carefully use your (very sharp) knife to cut the leaf in half, lengthwise. This is hard to do perfectly, don’t worry about that—the main goal is simply to open the leaf so the maximum amount of gel can be harvested. Once cut, turn the leaves over and remove the gel from the skin, cutting as close to the skin as possible to harvest as much as you can! Only harvest what you need and use immediately, reserving any unused portions of the leaf by wrapping and storing in the fridge.

Hydrating Aloe Drink

  • Aloe Gel (I used a leaf that was about 8 inches long and only about 2 inches wide)
  • Coconut Water
  • 2-3 Stems Fresh Cilantro
  • Honey
  • Fresh Lime Juice

Very roughly chop the aloe gel, leaving fairly big chunks. Place in a glass along with a few ice cubes and several leaves of cilantro. Using a muddler or spoon, crush the leaves and break up the aloe gel a little more (again some chunks are fine!). Fill the glass with coconut water, a swirl of honey if desired, and a generous squeeze of lime (I used 1/4 of a lime). Drink and enjoy immediately!

NOTE: due to the laxative qualities of aloe vera, it’s recommended that you start with a small amount and build gradually. Also, on rare occasion, some may be allergic to aloe. If you’ve never used it, apply a small amount behind the ear or under the arm—if stinging or rash appear do not use.

Growing & Propagating Aloe

Aloe vera is honestly very, very easy to take care of. You need dry, loose soil in a nice and bright, sunny spot. Overwatering will cause root rot, so err on the side of caution here. I water mine only about once per month, giving it a good soak and then leaving it the remainder of the time. If the tips of the leaves appear to shrink and shrivel slightly, you need to increase the amount you are watering. If you are lucky enough to have a mother plant, eventually you’ll need to propagate the babies. To do so, gently dig around the base and loosen the plant from the soil. Place in a fresh pot and it will simply take root and flourish on its own. Super easy!!

Super Saccharides & Aloe Vera For The Immune System

In order to understand the role that super saccharides (complex sugars) play in our body and how they benefit the immune system, it is necessary to touch on a little biochemistry. Don’t worry; I’ll stick to the basics.

Carbohydrates

All biological processes in the human body are effected through four main groups of biologically active molecules. These four groups are fats, proteins, nucleic acids (RNA & DNA), and carbohydrates. In this report, our focus is on the carbohydrates.

Essentially, carbohydrates are compounds containing carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in the proportions 6:12:6. They are burned during metabolism to produce energy, liberating carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O). The carbohydrates in the human diet can be divided into three groups:

  1. Monosaccharides, e.g. glucose, fructose, galactose;
  2. Disaccharides, e.g. sucrose (table sugar), lactose, maltose;
  3. Polysaccharides, which are linear or branched polymers of monosaccharide units linked by glycosidic bonds and include starch, glycogen (animal starch), and fiber/cellulose.

At one time, carbohydrates were thought to serve mainly as an energy source for the body, but it is now recognized that many carbohydrates play key roles in enhancing immune function and in facilitating cellular communication.

Carbohydrates and the Immune System

Most cells in the body have carbohydrate molecules on their surface. These carbohydrates are often attached to proteins or to fats and act as receptors for bacteria, viruses, or antibodies. The invaders actually use these sugars as fuel to grow, multiply, and attack the cell itself.

carbohydrates called mucopolysaccharides

A small group of very special carbohydrates called mucopolysaccharides, however, actually work to prevent bacteria and viruses from finding binding sites. In fact, they literally trap and destroy them. In addition, they also work to trap and destroy antibodies; thus halting infection caused disease and autoimmune diseases in their tracks.

autoimmune disease

Mucopolysaccharides to Enhance the Immune System

Mucopolysaccharides, now more commonly called glycosaminoglycans, are a special form of polysaccharide. They are made in the human body and perform many key functions in our health, including promoting growth and enhancing the immune system. Unfortunately, after puberty, we cease manufacturing these polysaccharides and must obtain them from outside sources.

Mucopolysaccharides are found in many of the foods that we call “miracle foods” including aloe vera, medicinal mushrooms, and nutritional yeast. Since we have already discussed the benefits of the mucopolysaccharides found in the medicinal mushrooms (reishi, maitake, and cordyceps).

The Power of Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is an amazing mixture of more than 200 constituents, including polysaccharides, enzymes, glycoproteins, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. Although aloe is almost legendary for its healing and regenerative powers, it’s true potential was merely waiting to be tapped. The problem has always been that aloe’s key active ingredients were so diluted in liquids and gels and so destroyed in processing (especially in dried aloe concentrates) that only tiny amounts were ever available for use by the human body. It is almost miraculous that even with these limitations, aloe was as effective as it was. It is only within the last decade, however, that scientists have learned how to concentrate the active ingredients in aloe to levels far, far, far beyond what was possible before – while at the same time preserving the integrity of the key ingredients. And then, within just the last year, that process has been significantly enhanced to almost unimaginable levels; and that’s why we’re talking about aloe today.

The active polysaccharide fractions in aloe are called galactomannans or beta-glucomannans. These polysaccharides have been shown in laboratory studies to act as a bridge between foreign proteins (such as virus particles) and macrophage cells in the human body, facilitating the destruction of the invading the protein by the macrophage. Activating the receptor sites of the macrophages is also a key to the overall boosting of cell-mediated immunity, which, significantly, is deficient in HIV infection and other immune disorders. In addition, aloe polysaccharides also protect the bone marrow from damage by toxic chemicals and drugs.

These various effects, while seemingly widespread and unrelated, are in fact due to one simple process that occurs at the cell membrane. Acemannan (the name often used for aloe beta-glucomannans, acetylated polymannans and mucopolysaccharides) is a long chain sugar that interjects itself into all cell membranes. This results in an increase in the fluidity and permeability of the membranes allowing toxins to flow out of the cell more easily and nutrients to enter the cell more easily. This results in improved cellular metabolism throughout the body and an overall boost in energy production.

Following are a few of the vital functions Acemannan and the other constituents of aloe have been found to perform. They…

  • Make cells more resistant to viruses and pathogenic bacteria, by incorporating themselves into cell walls
  • Improve overall cellular metabolism and functioning
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Provide critical lubrication of joints; helping to prevent arthritis and to heal it once it has developed
  • Aid in the absorption of water, minerals, and nutrients in the GI tract
  • Reduce pain
  • Improve vascular flow
  • Reduce scarring
  • Improve macrophage activity as much as tenfold
  • Enhance macrophage effectiveness in modulating the entire immune system
  • Enhance macrophage effectiveness in stimulating, producing, and releasing antibodies
  • Increase the body’s own production of interferon, interleukins
  • Increase the number of antibody forming T-cells in the spleen
  • Increase the number and activity of killer T-cell and increase monocyte activity
  • Fight fungal infections, such as: Athlete’s foot, Ringworm, Pruritus anivalvae, Balnea, Essential Pruritus, and Vaginal yeast infections
  • Help heal athletic injuries such as: Muscle cramps, Sprains, Strains, Bruises, Swelling, Soreness, Tendonitis, and Bursitis.
  • Soothe and promote the healing of intestinal disorders such as: Indigestion, Heartburn, Hyper-acidity, Peptic and Duodenal Ulcers, Colitis, and Hemorrhoids
  • Promote the healing of kidney disorders
  • Help with diabetes
  • Kill parasites such as: Pinworms and Threadworms
  • Speed wound healing by as much as 35%
  • Reduce allergic reactions
  • Stimulate bone marrow activity
  • Stimulate fibroblasts to release collagen and elastin to make new tissue

The bottom line is that concentrated aloe fractions enhance the functioning of the entire immune system, detoxify the body, promote the repair of a wide range of tissues and organs, improve digestive functions, and help with the destruction and elimination of invading bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

Concentrated Acemannan in Aloe Vera

Traditionally, the problem with aloe vera products is that the key active ingredients, the mannan sugars, are not particularly concentrated in the aloe plant, and are not particularly stable. In addition, they are easily destroyed both in the harvesting process and in the concentration process. It is only in the last few years that these limitations have been overcome and supplements with meaningful amounts of mannan sugars have been produced. And now, a brand new proprietary process has been discovered that allows for the dehydration and concentration of aloe at low temperatures (never exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit). This is significant since it preserves the integrity of the mannan sugars – not to mention the enzyme activity of the aloe constituents. This process produces a product that contains all of the complex carbohydrates contained in whole aloe leaf at powerfully high levels of concentration – as high as 200:1.

Beta Glucans

Aloe vera is not the only source of beneficial mucopolysaccharides, and Acemannan is not the only super immune enhancer. Certain Beta- glucans also qualify as “super saccharides.”

Oriental healers have known for hundreds of years that something inside yeast and mushrooms has the ability to dramatically enhance your immune system. Scientists have now identified that something as a long chain of polysaccharides called Beta glucans. In fact, the real discovery came when scientists discovered which particular kinds of glucans (Beta 1,3 and 1,6) provide most of the benefits.

Since the 1940’s, researchers have investigated the nutritional benefits of Beta glucans. Derived from the broken cell walls of yeast and from mushrooms, barley, and oats. Beta glucans are capable of reducing unhealthy amounts of serum cholesterol and boosting the immune system. (Note: Beta-glucan is the only glucan found effective in preventing coronary heart disease by significantly lowering LDL blood cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels. In fact, the FDA has approved Beta glucan supplementation for preventing coronary heart disease.)

As just mentioned, Beta-glucans are a powerful immune stimulator, activating the macrophages in the immune system. Keep in mind that your macrophages are your immune system’s first line of defense against viral, fungal, bacterial, and parasitic infections. In addition, macrophages play a major role in recognizing and eliminating aberrant (cancerous) cells from the body.

There have been over 1,000 research papers on Beta glucans since the 1960’s. Research backed by prestigious institutions such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Harvard, Tulane, Baylor, McGill, University of California, Duke, Washington, the Armed Forces Radiology Research Institute, and other institutions all demonstrate the high immune activating properties and cholesterol lowering properties of Beta glucans.

Beta-glucans have been clinically proven to enhance macrophage production dramatically and to increase nonspecific host resistance to a variety of bacterial, fungal, and parasitic infections, including:

  • Sinus Infections
  • Allergies
  • The common cold
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Lupus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Candida
  • Diabetes
  • Herpes
  • Mononucleosis
  • Osteoarthritis

In addition, “The broad spectrum of immunopharmacological activities of glucan includes not only the modification of certain bacterial, fungal, viral, and parasitic infections but also inhibition of tumor growth.” Nicholas DiLuzio, Ph.D., Department of Physiology Tulane University School of Medicine. Which leads us to…

Cancer and AIDS

It is important to understand that although there are a number of animal studies and cell studies (and a great deal of anecdotal evidence) available that indicate that “super saccharides” may play a significant role in protecting against cancer and AIDS; there are NO significant, valid human studies that prove this to be so at this time.

For example, if you search on the Internet, you will find references to remarkable studies by Drs. McDaniel and McAnalley concerning the effect of aloe fractions on the status of patients with ARC (AIDS Related Complex). They gave the polysaccharide fraction of aloe orally (250 milligrams four times a day) to 8 patients with ARC, with Walter Reed staging from 3 to 6. Eight of eight patients showed improvement within 90 days of therapy with an average reduction of 2 Walter Reed stages.

The problem is that as exciting as these studies are (and as frequently cited as they are), they were conducted on too small a group of patients and without proper controls, which makes their results merely interesting, not proven.

The bottom line is that you certainly have nothing to lose by supplementing with “super saccharides” if you are concerned about cancer or AIDS, but again, understand, nothing is proven – yet.

Usage

The normal recommended dosage for concentrated aloe fractions ranges between 450-1,000 mg a day. The recommended dosage for Beta glucans runs the gamut from 20 to 500 mg a day. However, when you combine the two, they work together and reinforce each other.

My recommended dosage is 500 mg of concentrated aloe fractions a day, along with 20 mg of Beta-glucans for maintenance purposes. Double it if you wish to use the combination more aggressively.

Warning

There is really only one minor warning. Concentrated aloe fractions can stimulate increased bowel function (a good thing), but it’s recommended that you start slowly and increase your intake of these fractions gradually to avoid intestinal cramping.

Resources:

There are mountains of research on the immune-related benefits of aloe’s key bio-chemicals and beta-glucans, but this should get you started.

Ways To Get Healthier Looking Skin By Boosting Collagen Levels

Collagen is an important protein, which the body needs to keep the skin looking young and healthy.

There are some great natural and non-invasive ways to boost collagen, but there are also several myths surrounding it. People may want to find out about the many options to boost their collagen before adding any sort of collagen treatment to their personal routines.

What is collagen?

[woman smiling in the mirror at herself]
The body produces less collagen as people age, causing wrinkles and stiff joints.

Collagen is the most common and abundant form of protein in the body. It is found in many tissues of the muscles, bones, tendons, blood vessels, and the digestive system. However, when people talk about the importance of collagen, they are generally referring to its benefits for the skin.

What does collagen do for the skin?

As a person ages, their body produces less collagen. This lack of collagen results in the common signs of aging. Wrinkles, sagging skin that has lost its elasticity, and stiff joints are all signs that the body is producing less collagen.

When collagen levels are high, the skin is soft, smooth, and firm. Collagen helps the skin cells renew and repair themselves. Collagen also helps keep the skin moist. This is why collagen has been seen as a very important ingredient for skin care over the years.

Ways to boost collagen

There are many ways to boost collagen levels. A person can simply add a different food to their diet, take a supplement, or add a new practice to their daily routine.

Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is an important compound for collagen in the skin. It is found in foods rich in amino acids, such as beans, root vegetables, and soy. Adding hyaluronic acid to the diet through food can easily help to boost collagen levels. Hyaluronic acid is also available as a supplement.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the best-known vitamins. The human body cannot make vitamin C, so it is very important to get it from the diet.

[citrus fruits]
Vitamin C is an important part of a healthful diet and can be found in foods like citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables.

Research from the Indian Dermatology Online Journal suggests that vitamin C also plays an important role in protecting the skin and creating more collagen in the body.
Many skin care companies add vitamin C to their protective creams for good reason.
Vitamin C can be taken as a supplement or added to the skin and is found in many foods. Citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, papaya, strawberries, and broccoli are all rich in vitamin C.

Aloe vera gel

People often use aloe vera gel to treat the skin after sunburn or to ease a rash. But new research posted to Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology suggests that aloe vera may have more benefits. Rather than waiting for skin damage to appear and treating it with topical aloe vera, researchers gave people an extract of aloe called Aloe sterols to take orally.

The results showed that the production of hyaluronic acid and collagen almost doubled in the participants. There was also a significant reduction in facial wrinkles. It appears that aloe actually stimulates the correct cells to grow.

People may find it very beneficial to use skin care products that contain aloe. It can be used as a topical cream or taken as an oral supplement.

Ginseng

Ginseng has been used for centuries in traditional medicine. A study posted in the Journal of Ginseng Research in 2012 found that ginseng increases the amount of collagen in the bloodstream.
Ginseng also has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties. Researchers also noted that ginseng might have the potential to stop skin cells from aging. Ginseng is often found in the form of tea, tinctures, and supplements.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances that help to protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can damage the body. Not all antioxidants will boost collagen production, but they will help the collagen that is present to do the best job it can.

There are many different types of antioxidants that can protect and rejuvenate the skin in various ways. Antioxidants can be found abundantly in nature and in food. According to research posted to Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, foods and drinks that contain antioxidants include:

[cup and teapot of green tea]
Green tea contains antioxidants that may help collagen renew and rejuvenate the skin.
  • blueberries
  • green tea (or EGCG, its active component)
  • yerba mate
  • licorice extract
  • mulberry extract
  • pomegranate extract
  • coffee extract
  • astragalus
  • cinnamon
  • basil, oregano, and thyme essential oils

Retinol

Retinol is another type of antioxidant that is commonly used to boost collagen levels in the skin. It helps to increase the lifespan of collagen, as well as block certain enzymes that destroy collagen, making it a perfect addition to many skin care kits.

Red light therapy

Some skin treatments, such as microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser resurfacing can lead to complications. After these treatments, the skin needs a lot of time to recover.
According to a study in Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery, red light therapy is a quick and safe way to increase collagen in the skin.
Red light therapy, or low-level laser light therapy (LLLT), has been shown to increase collagen growth and improve wrinkles and skin elasticity. Red light therapy is a non-invasive method of boosting collagen that has no side effects. Red light therapy kits are available over the counter, and people can do the treatment at home.

Protect the skin from the environment

[man putting sun screen on his nose]
Wearing sunscreen will help protect the skin from damaging sun exposure and UV rays.

Skin cells are always in a cycle of being created and destroyed. However, there are some factors, such as the environment, that make matters worse. Harsh weather, pollution, sun exposure, and even dust particles can damage the skin.

The damaged cells have to be replaced, which reduces collagen levels even more. An easy solution to this is to simply keep the skin clean. Washing and exfoliating daily can help to protect the collagen already in the skin.

On sunny days, people should always wear a good sunscreen. They should also protect their face with a hat whenever possible. On very bright days, sunglasses can help protect the delicate collagen around the eyes as well.

Myths about boosting collagen

One of the biggest myths about boosting collagen levels is that you can apply it directly to the skin. For many years, body creams, lotions, medicated ointments, and moisturizers containing collagen have claimed to boost collagen levels.
However, in truth, collagen molecules are too big to cross into the lower layers of the skin and are of no real use. This means that some of the creams on the market that contain collagen may be a waste of money.
Another myth surrounding collagen is the practice of adding collagen to a morning cup of coffee, so it serves as a supplement. Research posted to Drug Design, Development, and Therapy has found that caffeine actually has a negative effect on the aging process of the skin. This could mean that the collagen added to a cup of coffee may simply minimize the damage caused by the caffeine.

If collagen and skin health is a top concern, it may be best for people to avoid caffeine altogether.

Aloe Aftershave Gel.

This alcohol-free gel is suitable for men and women because it refreshes and is safe for sensitive skin. See if you don’t love it as much as anything you can buy.

Aloe vera gel is available in health food stores or you can scoop it out of the leaves of a plant.

1/2 cup aloe vera gel

1 1/2 tablespoons distilled water

1 tablespoon witch hazel

10 drops essential or fragrance oils of your choice

1. Combine all the ingredients in the container you’ll store the gel in. Stir until well mixed. Cover container with a tight-fitting lid.

2. Keep in a cool, dark location. Should keep indefinitely.