Since childhood, the summer months have brought with them a plethora of problems. From heat rash and insect bites, to uncomfortable rubbing and the irritating symptoms of hayfever, the sunshine only just outweighs the problems I (like many of you) have to deal with. Whilst sunning myself on the beautiful island of Antigua (more on that soon,) I found myself suffering once again; not only did those dreaded little hot red bumps make an appearance, but during one exceptionally humid evening I was absolutely ravaged by insects. My legs looked like they’d become diseased as I slept, not helped by the insane amount of inflammation caused by the irritant that led to uncontrollable itching. When you’re practically on a desert island, with little other than an emergency supplies shop at your disposal, what do you turn to in order to ease your symptoms? After a quick google, one of the constantly recommended natural remedies for everything from sunburn and heatrash, to irritated skin and insect bites was the soothing power of Aloe Vera.
This easily identifiable succulent contains over 200 active components
including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, polysaccharides and
fatty acids – so there’s no wonder it’s used for such a wide range of
remedies. The bulk of the leaf is filled with a clear gel-like substance
(which is approximately 99% water) that has been used therapeutically
for over 5000 years; although there’s little scientific evidence as to its effectiveness, there’s no denying that it’s well know for offering a multitude of benefits. Luckily for me, Antigua provides the perfect environment for Aloe Vera plants to flourish, so the resort was awash with plants from which to pick a stem to ease my symptoms. From the moment I applied the gel-like substance to my irritating bite marks, the relief was overwhelming; I’d tried all manner of topical and prescriptive treatments, but nothing compared to the true effectiveness of a touch of Aloe: within a day or so the irritation had stopped, the inflammation had disappeared and the bites were starting to heal. After seeing the results for myself I decided to research a little more into the benefits these green stems could bring and how I could utilise them back in the UK.
Rather uniquely, the gel of the Aloe Vera plant contains a range of fatty acids that help to soothe irritation and reduce the symptoms of inflammation. Aloe is not only known to help heal wounds, but it can help to relieve pain and itching due to it acting as an analgesic and antipruritic substance; it’s also astringent, which causes the contraction of body tissues that’s essential when helping to reduce bleeding. I have honestly never used such an effective remedy for heat rash and insect bites in all my years – and it’s so much cheaper than a (rather useless) prescription.
Aloe Vera is a well-known adaptogen, which boosts the body’s natural
ability to adapt to external changes and resist illness; it’s thought
that the Aloe plant balances the body and stimulates defensive processes which can help protect against illness. Furthermore, the polysaccharides in aloe vera juice stimulate the white
blood cells of your immune system that fight against viruses. It’s natures way of remaining healthy.
PROTECTS AGAINST STRESS
Because the Aloe plant stimulates the defensive mechanisms within the body, it’s thought it can also help to deal with stress – both physical, emotional and even environmental. With sun exposure and city pollution being the biggest cause of ageing, this little plant is an exciting addition to any anti-ageing routine. Because of its high level of anti-oxidants, which help combat free-radicals which contribute to the aging process, Aloe Vera can also help to keep skin looking fresh and youthful.
It’s said that a touch of Aloe Vera can aid digestion, tackle constipation and even prevent diarrhea. It’s known to soothe and cleanse the digestive tract, acting as a great remedy for those suffering with irritable bowel syndrome or acid reflux, as well as helping to decrease the amount of unfriendly bacteria and in our gut; this results in keeping your healthy intestinal flora in balance.
ACTS AS A DISINFECTANT
Including active ingredients such as sulphur, lupeol, salicylic acid, cinnamic acid, urea nitrogen and phenol (which are substances that prevent the growth of disease-causing microorganisms,) Aloe Vera can actively protect against bacteria. Whether you apply it topically to fungal infections or use it to eradicate germs when out or about, it’s a great alternative to the harshness of a hand hygiene gel.
The Aloe succulent makes a great addition to your home, while providing an easy way to harness the natural power of a plant that’s been used for centuries. However, if you don’t fancy yourself a herbologist then there are a plethora of supplements, juices and gels available on the high street that provide a natural boost in a more practical format; from Aloe Vera gels, creams and shampoos, to drinks, supplements and even toothpastes, there’s a way of utilising the powerful benefits of a little green plant that will suit your every need.
Do you have green fingers? Or does the thought of going ‘au naturel’ not appeal?
Please Note: Aloe Vera is a potent natural substance that should also be used with caution. It’s not recommended that it’s ingested on an ongoing basis, nor is it a complete replacement for more mainstream remedies; do your research and understand the power of the plant before you adopt it wholeheartedly.
Photos taken on the St James’s Club resort in Antigua, where Aloe Vera is grown in abundance. If you want to see some more
photos or need a little holiday inspiration, then check out my full
feature on St James’s Club in Antigua here.
I was a guest on behalf of St James Club Antigua and Virgin Atlantic. Find out more about the resort via their website, or book via Virgin Holidays;
seven nights all inclusive (flying from London Gatwick in May 2017)
starts from around £1181 per person, based on two sharing.
Features PR samples unless otherwise stated. To read my full disclaimer, click here.