news from the island
Aloe Aloe Aloe

Tuesday August 21, 2007

Aloe Aloe Aloe

Sunburn affects many visitors to Lanzarote. As the prevalent cooling winds can lull sunbathers into a false sense of security. But fortunately a fantastic cure is usually very close to hand – just check out your apartment balcony or hotel garden before heading off to the chemists.

Thanks to the mineral rich volcanic soil of Lanzarote, island grown Aloe Vera is amongst the highest quality in the world. Apparently containing a greater concentration of the plants active components, so in turn promoting quicker healing.

And there's a whole range of products made and sold in Lanzarote from this evergreen succulent that can do everything from easing typical tourist ailments such as sunburn and mosquito bites through to providing more long term therapeutic benefits such as stimulating cell renewal and improving circulation.

Plant of Life

There are in fact over two hundred different types of Aloe Vera - but the most potent and efficacious is Aloe Vera Barbadensis Miller, which displays yellow or orange flowering spikes and which can be found planted right across the island, both in gardens and under relatively large-scale cultivation in and around areas such as Famara.

Thanks to the resurgence of herbal remedies and holistic medicines Aloe has enjoyed a real resurgence in popularity over recent years. Coming to be regarded as something of a cure-all. And the curative properties of Aloe are indeed such that over the centuries it has been given many weird and wonderful names, such as Wand of Heaven, Plant of Life, Burn Plant and the catch all Medicine Plant.

Bitter Sweet Healing

Surprisingly, given its almost cacti like appearance, Aloe Vera is a member of the lily family and is also related to garlic, asparagus and onion – another plant that grows especially well on Lanzarote. It derives its name from the Arabic word Alloeh, which translates roughly as shining bitter substance, a description that can be verified by anyone who has ever tasted the plant in its pure form.

Aloe has been used medicinally for thousands of years in many different cultures around the world – and reference to the plant crops up in the literature of ancient China, Egypt and Rome. As well as ancient Greece, where famous physicians such as Pliny The Elder and Galen, the father of modern medicine, describe the positive effect that Aloe can have upon circulation. Aloe even featured as a part of the beauty regime of famous Egyptian Queens such as Nerfertiti and Cleopatra.

UK Introduction

In Britain, the plant was first introduced by merchants in the late 17th century and it quickly assumed the status of a valuable commodity - as it was used as an active ingredient in medicines throughout the 1800´s and became one of the most popular over the counter cures of its time.

Today, Aloe´s main medicinal use is as an anti-inflammatory and anesthetic. And a couple of companies on Lanzarote harvest and process the plants here to create a range of products that are available in shops across the island.

Amongst the biggest are Lanzaloe based in Orzola but with products available on line. Their totally organic product range includes Aloe Vera Juice, which is normally used in diluted form as an additive to health drinks and yoghurts and which is rich in amino acids, vitamins, polysaccharides, minerals and enzymes.  Another company - Yaizaloe - features a broader range of Aloe based products that includes body gels, shampoos and even anti-wrinkle creams.  You can also visit the so called Aloe Museum in Arrieta - but this is far more shop than museum.

Aloe Vera is most potent in its purest form and its most important use for most visitors to the island is as a cure for sunburn. So if you are suffering try (discreetly) cutting a leaf off a plant and then peel back the thick outer layer, revealing the sticky pulp below. Then apply the gel onto your red bits and feel the difference.

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