Posted: 15th May 2017
Whether it is grown organically:
The organic label only applies in the UK, but you can still buy products which have been grown organically, even if they don’t have the label ‘organic’. Like any plant, aloe vera draws up into the plant whatever is in the soil or air, so for the purest aloe, it needs to be grown away from all pollution and chemicals.
How old the leaves are before harvesting:
The leaves only develop their full potency when they are 4 years old, so if the whole plant is cut down, then the potency will be diluted by the younger leaves. However, this is much less labour intensive and therefore a cheaper method of production, so you need to balance cost with quality.
How much of the plant is used:
It is the inner gel which carries all the nutrients and goodness, the outer rind is simply a protective coating along with a bitter sap between the rind and the gel. This bitter sap gives it its’ name of ‘bitter aloe’ and is a strong laxative. It is also used for nail biting solutions – remember those from childhood? A very small amount of the laxative is beneficial to help the gut to function properly, but too much and you will know all about it. Therefore avoid any which say ‘ contains whole leaf’ or similar.
How the inner gel is extracted:
If the leaf is hand filleted with a blunt knife, then the gel will come away cleanly with a tiny amount of the bitter juice. Often, to save time and cost, the whole leaf is mashed up, and then crushed to extract the gel, then it is put through a charcoal filter to extract the bitter sap and the rind, the consequence of this is that many of the nutrients will be extracted at the same time. So make sure the leaves have been hand filleted for the best gel.
What preservatives are used:
Like any plant, as soon as it is harvested it starts to deteriorate, (think of the apple going brown); there are many preservation methods available, such as sterilising, freeze drying or pasteurising, but the best is to use plant extracts, because plants don’t like extremes of temperature, and preservatives exist naturally in nature anyway. Natural plant extracts can give it a shelf life of up to 5 years.
Whether any water is added:
Make sure that it is 100% aloe vera. This might sound obvious, but some companies will state that the aloe vera itself is 100% – which it is, but then they add water. If it looks and tastes like water, then it probably is water. It should be a pale yellow liquid with a uneven texture.
The percentage of aloe in the product:
Knowing that aloe is so good for you, means that the best product will have the maximum aloe content. Therefore it should be the first ingredient, the only exception being items like makeup, where too much liquid would be a bad thing…….so depending on the product, will depend on the percentage of aloe in it, and this can be difficult to find out, but as a guide, a drink should be around 90 – 97% and then down to about 30% depending on the item. Ask the person who has sold it to you, what the content is.
…and finally, for those of you who want to dig deeper:
The best way to check the purity and quality is to check for the seal of the International Aloe Science Council (IASC), this guarantees the purity and the quality of the aloe vera in the product. Check out their website http://www.iasc.org/ for more information and a list of all the accredited products.
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