Surely you have heard of Aloe Vera and its healing properties. Christopher Columbus took the plant on board his ships to treat the wounds of his mercenaries. So what does this plant look like and what can it be used for?
The origin of Aloe Vera (translate: true Aloe) is not known. The plant was distributed throughout the whole world through sailors and explorers. That is why nowadays you can find it in many places like the South Mediterranean, Asia, India, South America and of couse Africa. The Aloe Vera plant hast 320 Aloe sisters but only “Aloe barbadensis“ is particually well suited for healing purpose. Aloe Vera is also named the “burn plant” because it can defy an extremely hot climate without rain for months.
Looks & ingredients
Although the plant looks like a kind of cactus, it belongs to the group of Affodill plants (Asphodelaceae) and is not related to cactuses.
Aloe Vera plants build a tight group of foothills. The green leaves – which can grow up to 50 centimetres in length – are rosette-like and arranged around the tribe. The leaves have a smooth surface and a toothed leaf margin. In its blossom time the plant sprouts a 60 to 90 centimetres blossom with yellow to red racemes.
In the leaves approximately 220 active inter alia were found, like vitamins, enzymes, minerals, amino acids and polysaccharides. Polysaccharides include among others Acemannan which helps to strengthen the immune system. This substance is also produced by the human body until puberty starts.
Aloe Vera at home
You can get Aloe Vera plants in garden centres and DIY markets – so you can cultivate them in a pot at home. This way, you always have a natural cure. Everything an Aloe Vera needs is sandy, water-permeable soil. The desert plant does not get along well with waterlogging. Besides it prefers a sunny to half-shaded place.
If the plant has at least 12 leaves and if they are big enough, you can cut off one of the lower leaves. Let the remaining leaves grow. After a new leave has grown, you can again use another lower leaf. So in three months you get about four leaves. This way, an Aloe Vera plant can become up to 10 years old.
Clinical studies showed an efficacy of the gel in inflammatory skin diseases, wounds, burns, sun burns, frostbites as well as acne, psoriasis, eczema and insect bites. The intake of the plant for strengthening the immune system and other betterments is not proven yet. Before using the plants gel you should speak to a doctor as not everyone tolerates it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the fresh gel of an Aloe Vera plant is better than processed products such as cosmetic creams and the like. Ingredients of the creams may affect the active agents of the Aloe Vera plant. But if you still prefer to buy products with Aloe Vera, you should always make sure that it shows a BIO seal or IASC (International Aloe Science Council). These guarantee controlled commodities and processing.
How to proceed?
When you have cut off a leaf, wait till the yellow juice has completely run out. This liquid is resin which includes the strongly irritating active agent ‘Aloin’ which acts purgative and is slightly toxic!
After the yellow juice leaked out completely, you can cut off an adequate piece of the leaf. Put the remaining leaf in a plastic bag and stow it in your fridge. There, it can be kept for a few days.
For external use
Slice up your piece of leaf. The then visible gel can be applied on the affected place of your skin. It feels cooling and mitigating.
For internal use
As said above – it is indispensable to talk to your doctor before using Aloe Vera as ingestion. If you got his OK, loosen the gel carefully with the help of a knife point. You can either eat it directly or mix it with some food. Do not heat it up because the healing ingredients will be destroyed.