Aloe vera – not just for sunburns anymore.
I associate aloe vera with soothing qualities that are great for burns of all kinds. I stock up before every summer for sunburns and as the summer fades I’m wondering if the leftover will go to waste. When I discovered the many uses for aloe vera I realized that there would be no aloe vera left over!
The aloe vera plant’s botanical name is Aloe barbadensis miller and it is part of the Lilianeae family. Aloe vera is considered to be the most ‘biologically active’ of the Aloe species. It contains vitamins, minerals and amino acids among other components. An article on the website of Dr. Josh Axe says that aloe vera “provides 20 of the 22 human-required amino acids and eight of the eight essential amino acids.”
The medical community uses two substances produced by the aloe vera plant – gel that comes from cells at the center of the leaf, and latex that comes from the cells under the leaf’s ‘skin’.
For topical skin uses, aloe vera gel is effectively used as a home remedy for:
- wound healing
- cold sores
- dry skin
- eye make up remover
For dry hair and scalp:
- Aloe vera makes a wonderful conditioner and leaves hair smooth and soft.
- The vitamins and minerals in the gel nourish the hair and scalp.
- The gel’s antibacterial and antifungal properties help with dandruff.
- The gel’s enzymes act as exfoliants to rid the scalp of dead cells and regenerate the skin tissue around hair follicles.
For dental plaque and gum disease:
- Aloe vera can be taken orally or used with toothpaste to strengthen gums and teeth.
- It contains healthy ingredients including vitamin C, which help block plaque.
- A study published in General Dentistry reported that aloe vera in tooth gels was as effective as toothpaste in fighting cavities.
- It can also be used as a mouthwash.
For intestinal issues:
- Aloe vera latex is used as a natural laxative because it increases the intestinal water content.
- Its anti-inflammatory and laxative components also aid digestion by decreasing yeast formation, increasing good bacteria in the gut and regularizing bowel functions.
- It has been used to soothe and heal stomach ulcers.
- It can reduce heartburn.
Aloe vera gel keeps produce fresh:
Cambridge University Press reported on a 2014 study of tomato plants coated with aloe vera gel. The results showed that the coating blocked the growth of harmful bacteria on the vegetables. A separate study done with apples had the same results. This could mean the end of using harmful chemicals to extend the shelf life of produce.
As a mixer to add to your cocktails:
Chareau is a new aloe-based liquor that has been gaining in popularity. It is made from Northern California grapes, then infused with cucumber, spearmint, lemon peel, muskmelon. Aloe vera juice is added as the last step. The liquor has a clean, fresh taste. It mixes well with gin, tequila, Scotch and bourbon.
How do you know what you’re getting? Commercial production of aloe vera can often result in very little or no active ingredients. The international Aloe Science Council has developed a certification program to stop common misrepresentations in aloe vera products. The certification program validates the quality and quantity of aloe vera in approved commercial products. When you buy an aloe vera product, read the labels and look for the certification.
Forms of aloe vera:
- Aloe vera comes in gel, latex, juice, capsule and extract forms. As a juice, aloe vera is too bitter to drink and needs to be mixed with another fruit or vegetable juice.
- You can also grow your own aloe vera plant at home. It loves lots of sunshine and to be watered several times a month.
- Aloe vera is truly a wonder plant. It is not surprising that the Egyptians called it “the plant of immortality” over 6,000 years ago. Please do not use it for any medicinal purposes without checking with your doctor.
This product, aloe powder, has been recommended. It is in individual packets and you mix it with water and take it once a day. It is sold over the counter, but you might want to check with your doctor before using it. Ultimate Aloe Powder is $28.50 for 16 servings.
This book, The Everything Guide to Aloe Vera for Health by Britt Brandon, gets good reviews and is helpful if you are interested in learning more about aloe vera. $10.19.