Aloe vera is a miraculous healing plant with thick, fleshy green leaves. Aloe vera gel and aloe vera juice are widely used as remedies for various diseases and conditions since ancient times. Having this plant at home is a health bonus for the family on account of a long list of health benefits for digestion, diabetes, high cholesterol, rheumatism, skin and hair health.
Growing an Aloe vera plant
Belonging to the succulent plant family, aloe vera plants are sturdy in nature, not requiring much watering and are seldom attacked by pests. You can use seeds, stem or leaf cutting from another plant to grow a new one in a terra-cotta pot. The plant needs to be watered in moderation, once every 4-5 days and must get proper sunlight but too much sunlight can be harmful.
Aloe vera plant needs to be brought indoors in winters as it cannot withstand frost. Also, it does not require much watering in the winter season.
Medicinal value of Aloe vera plant
Aloe vera plant has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, soothing, moisturizing and healing properties, which make it a useful ingredient in skin creams, moisturizers, herbal medicines and cosmetics. Aloe vera gel is an immunity booster and is considered beneficial for digestive health.
Aloe vera is a rich source of several minerals and vitamins like sodium, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese, vitamin A, B, C, E, niacin and folic acid. It also provides essential amino acids as well as numerous digestive enzymes.
The aloe leaf has a mucilaginous (sticky) fluid inside, called aloe vera gel, which is mainly used as a topical ointment. Aloe vera juice is derived from the outer part of the leaf and is consumed as a health tonic. You can simply extract juice and gel from the leaves by breaking them open.
Uses of Aloe vera
Aloe vera is known as the “miracle healer” and finds place in a number of home remedies:
#1 Wounds and burns: Topical application of aloe vera gel is used as a home remedy for wounds, minor burns and skin irritation. For major burns, aloe gel mixed with vitamin E oil is an excellent remedy. A mixture of 1 teaspoon of turmeric and 1 teaspoon of aloe gel can also be used for burns and wounds.
#2 Skin rejuvenation: Aloe vera gel is considered to be a home remedy for skin troubles like itching, eczema and psoriasis. Mixed with lemon juice, it can be used to treat acne, open pores and skin ageing. The inner side of aloe leaf is a natural scrub, which helps in exfoliation of dead skin. Aloe gel can also help in lightening stretch marks and acts as a general skin moisturizer.
#3 Laxative: Aloe juice is a natural remedy for constipation. 2 tablespoons of aloe gel mixed with a glass of apple juice can provide relief from chronic constipation.
#4 Asthma: A home remedy for asthma is inhalation of vapors of aloe leaves boiled in water. Taking aloe juice internally also helps. It can also provide relief from chest congestion and sinus problems.
#5 Digestive health: Aloe vera juice is known to provide relief from various digestive problems like bloating, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn and peptic ulcers. Aloe vera gel or juice taken first thing in the morning or at bedtime is helpful for this purpose. 3-4 teaspoons of aloe vera gel mixed with a pinch of black pepper powder, black salt and some lemon juice consumed daily strengthens the digestive system.
#6 Blood sugar: Aloe vera juice has been known to lower blood sugar level in type2 diabetics. It is to be consumed regularly for at least 3 months to attain maximum benefit. A consultation with your physician is recommended before trying any home remedy for the first time.
#7 Cholesterol: Oral consumption of aloe vera juice has been shown to cause a noticeable reduction in total cholesterol as well as triglyceride levels. It is also associated with reduction of blood clots and fat deposits in the arteries of the heart.
#8 Rheumatism / Arthritis: Aloe vera juice consumed daily is helpful for patients of rheumatim and arthritis on account of anti-inflammatory properties. Massage with aloe vera gel provides relief from joint pains.
#9 Regulates weight and energy levels: Aloe vera juice facilitates natural cleansing and detoxification of the digestive system, resulting in increase of enegy levels as well as maintenance of healthy weight.
#10 Oral health: Sprinkle some aloe vera powder on your toothbrush and use it for brushing your teeth to get rid of teeth and gum diseases. It can also be used as a gargle to treat mouth ulcers and bleeding gums.
#11 Hair problems: Aloe vera juice mixed with coconut milk and wheat germ oil massaged on the scalp is an effective remedy for dandruff. Application of aloe vera gel on the scalp promotes hair growth and acts as a hair conditioner.
In some cases, aloe vera juice can cause adverse reactions like diarrhea accompanied by pain, stomach cramps and dehydration. It might cause interactions with certain medications. It is advisable to consult a doctor before consumption of aloe vera juice. Children, pregnant women and lactating mothers need to avoid consuming aloe vera juice.