Aloe vera is a real mother plant that anyone can grow in their home. It does not need a lot of sun, or much watering; and it keeps producing baby plants that you can detach and pot on. You can read about its medicinal properties here – or just use it to keep your skin fresh and cool!
Here is my original aloe on the left and one of its baby plants on the right.
The article linked to above has an interesting anecdote:-
Aloe Vera has been added to many cosmetic products for many years because of its known rejuvenating action.
It achieves this in several different ways. Firstly the polysaccharides act as moisturisers, hydrating the skin. Secondly, aloe is absorbed into the skin and stimulates the fibroblasts to replicate themselves faster(10,11) and it is these cells that produce the collagen and elastin fibres, so the skin becomes more elastic and less wrinkled. Aloe also makes the surface of the skin smoother because of its cohesive effect on the superficial flaking epidermal cells by sticking them together. It also possesses the ability to interfere with the enzyme that produces melanin deposits in the skin, preventing the formation of ‘liver spots’ which tend to form in ageing skin. If Aloe Vera is applied regularly and for long enough it will often cause established spots to disappear.
The best demonstration of this effect that I have ever seen, was shown by Dr. Ivan Danhof, an American physician who has worked with topical aloe products in the cosmetic industry for 30 years. When testing new creams and lotions, being right handed, he always applied the material with the fingers of his right hand to the back of his left hand in order to test its texture, smell and penetrability. He now declares that he has one old hand and one young hand and indeed the comparison when he puts his hands together to show the backs, side by side, is quite remarkable.
One hand is the typical hand of a seventy year old with thinning, wrinkled skin covered in a variety of blemishes, whilst the other, his left hand, is clear and smooth and looks 30 years younger.