What do we know about these botanicals? While we discuss here the findings of traditional western scientists, we must acknowledge that scientists would not know what to investigate if it weren’t for the knowledge of the indigenous people local to these amazing plants.
Aloe has been used to treat physical maladies for centuries. Ancient Egyptians used it about 3,500 years ago, and evidence of its use in ancient Greece, Mesopotamia, India, and China shows a long history of its use across cultures. It has been ingested and used externally to treat indigestion, stomach ulcers, immune deficiencies, cancer, aging, acne, wounds, burns, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, and countless other conditions. Scientists are working hard to understand its constituent parts and how they interact with our bodies and to what degree these historical uses of the plant have modern scientific merit.
Today, aloe farming, harvesting, and processing is a large industry with its own organizations, practices, and standards. We only accept organic aloe from suppliers who have the International Aloe Science Council’s certification and do extensive testing on their product to ensure bio-activity.
One of the distinctive features of our products is that we use concentrated aloe in our formulations. Why? The aloe vera layer promotes basal keratinocyte regeneration (skin cell healing). The more concentrated the aloe vera, the more vigorous the regeneration, and this is a linear relationship (Danhof & McAnalley, 1983). At a certain point, the aloe can and will irritate the skin, so we test extensively to find the sweet spot where we maximize the support for our skin’s regeneration and minimize irritation. However, even if the aloe initially irritates the skin, it is doing its job. During the formulation of this product, Aloe Baby’s founder had a large first degree burn from cooking, and she placed a dab of 10x (1000%) concentrate in the middle of the burn (it really irritated!), a dab of Tender Defender to one side, and nothing at all on the other side. The burn healed fastest in the middle and slowest where we applied nothing. While this was by no means a scientific study, it illustrates the importance of concentrating aloe for supporting skin healing.
Articles that may be of further interest:
- Unlocking Aloe Vera’s Healing Secrets (ABC News)
- Can Aloe Treat Skin Problems? (Discovery Fit & Health)
- Aloe Vera: A Scientific Primer (International Aloe Science Council)
Not nearly as well-known in the United States or as well advertised worldwide, niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenervia) is a cousin to the Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). There are some wonderful similarities between niaouli and tea tree:
- Both are highly effective antibacterial agents, especially against Gram positive bacteria (Ramanoelina, Terrom, Bianchini & Coulanges, 1987).
- The essential oils of both plants contain the Terpinen-4-ol, which is an effective antimicrobial against Staphylococcus aureus (Carson, Mee & Riley, 2002).
- They share many of the same bio-active properties, acting as effective fungicides against dermatophytes and filamentous fungi (Hammer, Carson & Riley, 2002). And the tea tree has demonstrated antiprotozoal, antiviral, antibiotic, antimicrobial, and anti-infammatory qualities (Carson, Hammer & Riley, 2006), and it is likely that the less well-studied niaouli shares these attributes.
But there are two things that separate the essential oils of tea tree and niaouli:
- Scent! The tea tree has a very medicinal quality to it, but niaouli has a much sweeter, fresher profile. (Who wants to smell like a medicine cabinet?)
- The amount of a notorious skin irritant! 1,8-cineole is a compound that is present in significant amounts in this family of plants. It is a skin irritant that should be minimized in products to be used on sensitive skin. We found a specific chemotype of niaouli essential oil that is unique in its family: it contains far less 1,8-cineole than tea tree oil and even significantly less than the oils of other niaouli chemotypes (Gbenou, Moudachirou, Chalchat & Figueredo, 2007; Ramanoelina, Bianchini & Gaydou, 2008). In other words, the oil we use is well researched and chosen for its efficacy and gentleness. As an added bonus, its collection and processing provides living wages for residents of a village in Madagascar.
Rosehip seed oil is a wonderful source of Vitamins A (retinol), C (ascorbic acid), and E (alpha and gamma tocopherols). But it is the levels of linoleic and linolenic acids, up to 77% of the oil, that is most beneficial for skin. Neither of these fatty acids are made by our bodies. Linoleic acid is an omega-6 fatty acid is critically important to skin, particularly for wound healing. Alpha Linolenic (also written as α-Linolenic) acid is an omega-3 fatty acid that reduces inflammation and promotes healing.
Rosehip seed oil used cosmetically has been demonstrated to reduce the depth of wrinkles, attenuate scarring, and regenerate skin (Pareja & Kehl, 1990). It has been shown to aid in wound healing for post-surgical and skin ulcer patients (Moreno, Bueno, Navas & Camacho, 1990). It is also used to ease the effects of radiotherapy on skin (Maddocks-Jennings,Wilkinson, & Shillington, 2005).
The unrefined cold-pressed rosehip seed oil that we use is sustainably wildcrafted and contains more linoleic acid than oil extracted with solvents or enzymes.
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