Aloe Vera

Aloe vera (Liliaceae). The part used is the fresh or dehydrated juice from the leaves.

This plant has hundreds of uses, the most popular being its ability to alleviate the pain of burns and to speed their healing. It is very easily cultivated as a house plant, and should be in every kitchen.

Functions of aloe vera

Aloe vera

Externally:

  • is used for sunburn, often preventing later peeling. Immediately immerse the burn in cold water or apply ice until the heat subsides, then generously apply the aloe. It is best to trim the prickly sides off the succulent leaf, then split the leaf in half and gently rub the exposed gel onto the affected area.
  • may also be applied to any cut or skin abrasion, and onto skin eruptions, remarkably speeding healing. It is useful with decubitus ulcers.

Internally:

  • it may also be used when a powerful cathartic (a substance that promotes defecation) is required.
  • used in a small dose it may increase menstrual flow.
  • is used to relieve the pain and itching of hemorrhoids, carve out a suppository sized chunk of the inner leaf gel and insert into the rectum.
  • it can be used with stomal ulcers (intestinal ulcers between the stomach and the jejunum).

It has been reported that success has been achieved using aloe to treat facial edema, immediate denture placement, lock jaw and mouth ulcers.

Notes on aloe

  • Aloe stimulates uterine contractions. It should be avoided during pregnancy. As aloe is excreted in the breast milk is best avoided during breast feeding as it may act as a purgative on the baby.
  • Avoid if you have kidney disease or hemorrhoids.
  • Do not apply the gel to any surgical incision as it may delay the healing.
  • Do not ingest the dried leaf gel as it is s habit forming laxative. Taken in large amounts or for long periods, they may be harmful to the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract.
  • Avoid taking aloe products with cardiac medications, such as antiarrhythmics. A possible interaction may occur, due to potential potassium loss induced by aloe preparations.
  • Do not confuse aloe vera with bitter aloes or other aloe species as some are poisonous.

Dosage

For internal use take 0.1 to 0.3 grams of the juice.

For external use put some of the fresh juice onto the afflicted area.

Aloe Vera ointment: collect several leaves and split them to collect the juice. Place the leaves into a saucepan and gently simmer them until they become a thick paste. Leave this to cool and then place the paste into a clean jar and store in a cool place. Keep the jar in the refrigerator once it is opened. Use this as you would for fresh sap. It is a good way to preserve the juice and you can take it away with you. It will keep for several months.

For the gardener

Aloes need hot dry conditions and very good drainage. They will grow well in a pot but if they are allowed to stay wet the whole plant will rot at the base. They are also easily killed by heavy frosts. The plants can be grown by removing and planting the small suckers that grow from the base of a mother plant. This can be done at any time of the year but it is most successful in spring.

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References

Duke, J.A. 2000, Anti-aging Prescriptions. Rodale.

Hoffmann, D. 2000, The New Holistic Herbal. Element Pub.

Hoffmann, F. and Manning M. 2002, Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads. The Haworth Press.

McIntyre, A. 1995, The Complete Women's Herbal. Henry Holt Reference Books.

Woodward, P. 2003, Grow Your Own Herbal Remedies. Hyland House.

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