Aloe Vera - the Wonder Plant ?
'Aloe Vera' is also known
Aloe' or 'Curacao Aloe'
Extracts from the Aloe Vera plant are popular as ingredients for
health and skin products. They are also used in haircare products
and other toiletries.
Aloe Vera in the Wild
The Aloe Vera plant grows wild in some of
the desert areas of Mexico, some of the sunny and dry areas of south
desert areas of India, and is naturalized in North Africa, Spain,
and the Caribbean Islands. It is also grown as a house
plant in many locations around the world.
Aloe Vera as a Houseplant
As a house plant it grows well in a gritty/sandy
compost, able to store available water in its fleshy leaves and favouring
position, though not at its best in hot direct sunshine. It needs
moderate watering during May to September but very sparingly during
the remaining months of the year. The use of tap water (fluorinated)
can cause brown areas to appear on the leaves and even bruising.
Spring water or rain water is recommended for watering aloes. The
plant can be grown outdoors during warm sunny months but needs
to be returned indoors later to a stable heat or heated greenhouse.
Growth is slow.
Propagation of Aloe Vera Plants
The parent plant produces 'off shoots' when it is getting
too big for its pot. If the 'off shoots' are removed
with a sharp knife in July – August and allowed to dry for
about a week, they can then be planted in a moist gritty compost
and well watered. The young plant should then be left without further
watering to encourage healthy root formation. The parent plant should
also be re-potted to ensure its continued vitality.
The Aloe Vera is a succulent cactus-like plant belonging to the
lily family. It is recognizable by its long, mid-green to yellowish
fleshy leaf blades which are pointed at the tips and sometimes
prickly down the sides. The smooth shiny and swollen outward
sides of the leaves protect layers of enlarged cells beneath.
The cells contain a yellow gel-like substance containing the
drug 'aloe' valued medicinally.
Although young plants of 3 to 4 years growth can be used to 'harvest' the
aloes, older, thicker leaves are preferred in the commercial process
for medical usage. The leaves nearest to the base of the plant
cut first so as to cause least disfigurement to the plant. The
cut leaves are either so positioned as to enable the aloe containing
sap to drain from the leaf into a bowl or the leaf is cut horizontally
and placed onto damaged skin to enable the sap to heal the abraised
In West Indian aloe plantations the plants are grown in orderly
rows. The juice is collected there in March or April. However, in Africa
the juice is collected from wild plants. A hole is prepared in the
ground and lined with an animal skin. The inside of the skin, positioned
uppermost, receives the juices drained from cut leaves which are placed and
pointed into the hole. Collected juices are purchased by companies
which mix varying amounts of aloe and various oils to produce skin
care products and medicine for internal healing.
Use of Aloe Vera Plants
The Socotrine aloes are less widely used commercially than the
Aloe Vera plants are sometimes used to, or used to manufacture
remedies are to, treat:
- Cuts, scratches & bruising (applied fresh juice to reduce
swelling and promote healing.
- Acne (daily application, initially(only)
skin might become dry.
- Psoriasis (mixture of almond oil and
- Burns(apply horizontal/cut leaf to scalds to ease
pain and speed repair to skin. Gel seals skin
to avoid infection.
- Damaged hair (& dandruff) Gel counteracts
effects of detergents
used previously and seals hair shaft resulting in fewer oils
- Skin (aloe
is a component of moisturizers / fresh juice for face packs)
However, remedies to be taken internally (usually swallowed) must
be produced and prescribed by herbalists to ensure that damage
done from using too strong a dose of aloe. Basic advice about use
of Aloe Vera includes the following, though these are not exhaustive:
(must be combined with caraway, fennel or ginger- calming
elements to avert abdominal discomfort and aid digestion).
- Must be avoided by – nursing mothers. Purgative effect
milk to child.
- Avoid during pregnancy- would stimulate the
- There are some contra-indications that apply to use of aloe
vera. For example, there have been some reports that excessive use can cause hemorrhoids.
* This article is for general interest only.
It is not medical advice. *
* In case of medical concerns, consult an appropriately qualified professional.
This article was written by IvyRose using multiple
reference sources. Click here for
books about Aloe Vera.
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but not to endorse any particular view or activity.