As we head into the height of the summer heat (especially here in Arizona!), I started to think of cooling oils and products that are aromatherapy-related. One of these products that came to mind was aloe vera gel. If you don’t know a lot about aloe vera, here’s a little bit of information about the plant – and a couple of my own suggestions on how to use it in aromatherapy
Botanical Profile of Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a succulent plant species that belongs to the Xanthorrhoeaceae plant family. It has thick, green fleshy leaves that are serrated. It also produces yellow, tubular flowers in the summer which grow on a tall spike, shooting out of the plant. Aloe vera grows in many places around the world but typically likes a hot climate such as that found in North Africa, the Canary Islands, the Mediterranean region, tropical Australia, Belize and temperate climes in the United States.
Medicinal Use of Aloe Vera
Records indicate that aloe vera has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. The ancient Egyptian Ebers Papyrus mentions the use of aloe vera, as does De Materia Medica written by Dioscorides. In ancient Egypt, aloe vera was known as the “plant of immortality.
Traditionally, aloe vera has been used as a topical application for skin conditions, to heal wounds and to treat sunburn (source: NCCAM). However, although there is some scientific evidence to suggest that aloe vera gel may help heal wounds and skin conditions, there is no definitive scientific reports the use of aloe vera for other ailments.
Use of Aloe Vera in Aromatherapy
Aloe vera is commonly used as a gel in aromatherapy practice, as a base for essential oils. I personally use aloe vera gel (with appropriate essential oils) in the following way:
- as a cooling gel for inflamed or irritated areas instead of a lotion or carrier oil base. I have used aloe vera around the eye area (although take professional advice before doing this)
- in a hair spritzer! Aloe vera gel is water based so is a great addition to water-based spritzers such as for the hair. If you would like to make your own hair spritzer, check out the mini-make-your-own aromatherapy hair kit in the Sedona Aromatherapie webstore!
- you could also use aloe vera as a cooling gel for feet.
- National Center for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, Aloe Vera, accessed June 25, 2011
- Wikipedia, Aloe Vera, accessed June 25, 2011
- author is a certified clinical aromatherapist