Aloe Vera

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Uses : It is useful for X ray burns, Dermatitis, Cutaneous and disorders of skin. Drug from juice is tonic and is used in jaundice, ameneorrhoea, atonic and piles. Aloe Vera Gel has the remarkable ability to heal wounds, ulcer and burns.

There are over 250 species of Aloes in the world, mostly native to Africa. They range in size from little one inch miniatures to massive plant colonies consisting of hundreds of 2 foot diameter plants. Although most Aloes have some medicinal or commercial value, the most commonly known is the Aloe barbadensis… better known as Aloe vera.

All Aloes are semitropical succulent plants, and may only be grown outdoors in areas where there is no chance of freezing (USDA zones 10-11). However, they make excellent house plants when they are given sufficient light. Potted Aloes benefit from spending the summer outdoors. Older specimens may even bloom, producing a tall stock covered with bright colored coral flowers. Aloe flower nectar is a favorite of hummingbirds!

History shows that Aloe was used by Cleopatra as a cosmetic aid for her skin, which was said to be of legendary beauty. This places the plant in use at least as early as 1500 BC. Arab traders spread it far and wide around the 6th century, trading it as far as Asia. It is said that Alexander the Great conquered areas where the plant grew so that he could use the medicine for his soldiers, other reports state that he kept one particular island for growing aloe for his soldiers. Mention of this remarkable plant is made in 12th century German medical records as well as in the Compendium of Materia Medica to the Chinese Ming dynasty.

The Greek physician Dioscorides wrote of using it externally for treating wounds of all sorts. Columbus carried it on board his ships during his ocean voyages. To confuse matters even more thoroughly, there is still another product called aloe that is entirely different from the two just described. That is the aloe of the Bible, the so-called lignaloes or aloe wood, a fragrant wood from an entirely different plant that was once used as an incense. It has nothing to do with the aloe we are discussing except that some persons try to glamorize aloe gel by incorrectly ascribing to it a biblical origin. The names may be the same, but the plants referred to are not. Actually, aloe latex has been used as a laxative for about eighteen centuries, but neither it nor aloe gel is referred to in the Bible.

The medicinal properties of Aloe vera have been known, and recorded since biblical times. It has been used for a variety of ailments, and as an ointment for burns, cuts, and rashes, as well as an ingredient in various beauty preparations.

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The sap of the Aloe is a thick, mucilaginous gel. It is this gel which is used medicinally. The outer skin has essentially no value, but because it is commercially easier and less expensive to utilize the entire leaf, ‘whole leaf’ Aloe juice has been hyped as the ‘best’. This is not the case.

Growing Aloe plants

Because Aloe plants consist of 95% water, they are extremely frost tender. If they are grown outdoors in warm climates, they should be planted in full sun, or light shade. The soil should be moderately fertile, and fast draining. Established plants will survive a drought quite well, but for the benefit of the plant, water should be provided.

Because of their popularity, Aloe vera plants are available at almost every garden shop or nursery. Unless you live in area with a very mild climate, it’s best to leave your Aloe plant in the pot and place it near a window that gets a lot of sun. You can move the pot outdoors during the summer months.

Aloe vera is a succulent, and as such, stores a large quantity of water within its leaves and root system. During the winter months, the plant will become somewhat dormant, and utilize very little moisture. During this period watering should be minimal. Allow the soil to become completely dry before giving the plant a cup or two of water. During the summer months, the soil should be completely soaked, but then be allowed to dry again before re-watering.

Aloes have a shallow, spreading root system, so when it is time to repot choose a wide planter, rather than a deep one. Use a planter with a drainage hole, or provide a 1-2 inch layer of gravel in the bottom of the pot to ensure adequate drainage. Use a good commercial potting mix with extra perlite, granite grit, or coarse sand added. You may also use a packaged ‘cacti mix’ soil. Fertilize yearly, in the spring with a dilute (half strength), bloom type fertilizer (10-40-10).

Aloes are propagated by removing the offsets which are produced around the base of mature plants, when they are a couple inches tall (or larger). They may also be grown from seed.

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As to the claims of the medicinal properties of the Aloe plant, However, recent studies have taken the folk uses of aloe and applied them in clinical studies. The results of these studies were impressive enough that aloe is a standard skin treatment for many burn victims. It is also recommended for its antiseptic properties for treating wounds, radiation burns, and many other afflictions of the skin. It is quite likely that you will find an aloe product in your own doctor’s office, as well as your local hospital.

Studies in laboratory rats have shown that another of its uses, that of internal consumption to protect and nourish the digestive system and vital organs, is not only effective, but is showing that it can actually extend the life of lab rats ingesting aloe. Rats with aloe added to their diets show much less damage to the vital organs at old age than do rats without it. Since many cultures around the world ingest aloe regularly, this is of particular note, and thankfully studies are ongoing.

When you need to use it medicinally, just remove a lower leaf from the plant, slice it open, and apply the gel on the affected area.

The magical uses of Aloe are not easily located. It is a feminine plant, and its planet is the moon. Its element is water, and its powers are protection and luck. Aloe can be hung over the home for good luck. Carry it with you to protect yourself against evil, or to protect yourself from clumsiness.

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