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Herbs A to Z: Aloe vera

Aloe vera is an easy to grow and look after houseplant. It is a good all round “cure-all” for the skin with its “main attraction” being burn healing. The cut leaves can be kept in the fridge and are especially good for sunburns.

Aloe vera hydrates skin and hair and has been a household remedy worldwide and extensively used in modern medicine. Many health products use aloe vera as the base ingredients. One that comes to my mind is by Lilly of the Desert company and is called “Stomach Formula 80.” This product totally soothes the intestines and stomach and when taken like a vitamin (daily) it can deter colon cancer.

Aloe vera used on minor cuts and burns totally speeds up the healing time. It is a handy first aid plant to grow in our homes. The height can be from 10-30 cm and is considered a tender plant that requires sun; the soil needs to be alkaline. It can produce an orange flower with the blooming period being from June to August. If you overwater this plant, you will lose it. It likes to be inside the house and, ideally, on a window sill. If it has been dry for too long, the leaves will begin to lose their plump feel. Leave it in the same pot until the pot has many baby chutes and crammed full before re-potting. You can split up the baby ones and put in smaller pots.

Aloe gel has cooling and healing properties for the skin and the mucous membranes, being a traditionally topical application to treat inflamed and hot skin conditions; used extensively for burns and wounds. This can be used “fresh” from the plant by cutting and scoring down the leaf where the gel can be scooped out and used. Any remaining leaf can be stored in the fridge where the cut stem will heal and keep the gel safe inside; the gel is also useful as a carrier for essential oils and other herbs.

I actually make my own perfume and use a 3 to 1 ratio of saline water to aloe vera gel; all you have to do then is to add your favorite designer perfume oil as desired.

Aloe gel (Lilly of the Desert brand is my favorite) is also a great substance to use in place of toothpaste. Its pH balance is healthy and it soothes any kind of gum inflammation. It has a very clean taste and kills bacteria growth which eliminates bad breath.

Another good application for aloe vera gel is as a hair conditioner and/or styling gel. It is very good for your hair and penetrates it, making hair shinier and stronger. You can also add aloe vera gel to your favorite shampoo as well as your favorite night cream for an extra “boost!”

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