Easy to grow and maintain both indoors and out, aloe vera is one of the most common natural healers known to man.
Many who are otherwise ambivalent towards the claims of healing plants have a small aloe plant in their kitchen, or a lotion that features it as an ingredient, to deal with the burns and skin infections that seem to multiply during dinner preparation.
Countless others look for it when they buy tissues, so the moisturizing effects can help ease the pain of a cold. In short, it has become a very valuable ingredient in the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
The plant itself has been known for centuries. It has no stems, or very small stems, with thick and fleshy green leaves that are serrated with small, white teeth. It grows from 24 inches to close to 40 inches tall, with flowers that bloom in the summer.
Put a small one in a terra cotta pot, and it doesn’t take a green thumb to make sure it survives, though you’ll want to keep it indoors in the winter if you live somewhere that gets snow and ice.
Aloe vera is popular as both an ornamental and medicinal plant. Because it’s a succulent plant that requires little water, it is a natural choice to include for gardens in areas with low or uncertain rainfall.
On the other hand, many aloe vera growers are less concerned about how it’ll look in the backyard than how it can help them lead healthier lives.
In that regard, they may be onto something. There are a lot of claims about what the plant can do; not all have been part of a medical study designed to prove or disprove the hypothesis. But suffice it to say that its had a long association with herbal medicine for a reason.
Some studies indicate that aloe vera can aid in the treatment of wounds. Recent studies have indicated that it has a positive effect on the healing rate for burns. Aloe vera juice is used by some for digestive issues, despite the risk of toxic effects (which we’ll get to later).
The succulent also been linked to improving the glucose level of diabetics, and to benefits for patients with hepatitis and ulcerative colitis. And for those who like dreadlocks, aloe vera can be used to re-twist the hair.
The most common way to consume aloe vera is topical, as in a skin cream or moisturizer. It is non-toxic as long as it has been processed to remove the aloin.
Interestingly, unprocessed aloe that contains aloin was a common ingredient in over-the-counter laxatives until its use in those products was banned by the FDA in 2003. Processed aloe vera, however, has healing digestive properties.
Certainly, aloe vera is a must own for anyone, and especially for those at risk of suffering minor skin injuries. It can make a burn’s pain and physical evidence fade quickly and help soothe minor cuts and scrapes. It also keeps the skin moist at the same time. Indeed, it’s hard to find a better plant to have around.
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