Aloe vera Plant – Uses, Benefits and Proper Plant Care
- Sunburns and Regular Burns
- Makeup Remover
- Face Wash and Exfoliator
- Hand Sanitizer
- Shaving Gel
- Herpes and skin conditions
- Bad Breath
- Pearly Whites
- First Aid
- Aloe As Food
- In a Salad
- Getting Juiced
- Cooking with Aloe
In North America, aloe is perhaps best known as an ingredient in various products you can purchase at the grocery store. It is found in lotions and other skincare products and is used often in drive away the burning sensation one feels after a bad sunburn. Few things are as great as aloe vera for a bad sunburn. There are many aloe vera plant types, with tons of benefits, and you can create a whole bunch of beauty products all on your own.
If you’ve found yourself having spent a bit too much time in the sun, reach for the aloe vera. While there are a great many products out there which include aloe as part of the healing and soothing formula, you don’t necessarily need to buy a bottle to find some relief.
Some of the other items found in these products are more chemical by nature and aren’t needed to reap the full healing benefits. Menthol, for instance, can sometimes be found in these products to provide a cooling sensation, but it does nothing to aid the actual healing.
The gel contained within the leaves serve as something of a pain reliever and helps to stimulate the regrowth of skin cells. This, combined with its moisturizing properties, make the plant one of the best ways to get your skin feeling better after spending too long in the sun.
In fact, aloe vera can help with most burns through the same method. Various studies showed a definite reduction in healing time for burns treated with aloe vera as opposed to those treated without.
A trick you can do is to fill an ice tray, the kind you put in your freezer to make ice, with aloe gel, then pop it into the freezer. When you get a burn, the cold from the ice works with the healing ingredients of aloe to reduce the pain even faster.
It should be noted, however, that aloe vera isn’t a cure for all. Anything more than a minor burn or sunburn should be shown to a medical professional.
One thing many makeup removers contain is an astringent, or something similar, which only serves to dry your skin. Those who wear makeup need to take their makeup off at the end of the day. But why go with chemicals when there is a natural alternative?
A glob of aloe gel placed onto a cotton pad or ball can serve as an excellent tool to remove that pesky makeup at the end of a long day. Not only will it get the job done, you’ll find your skin moisturized and feeling great.
Sticking with the skin care theme, using aloe vera after removing makeup is also a great idea. There are a couple of great recipes out there to mix together an excellent face wash that’s perfect for your bedtime beauty routine.
Stir together one tablespoon of aloe vera gel, a teaspoon of lemon and a teaspoon of almond milk. Lather up your face and leave it on the skin for a minute before rinsing it all off and admiring the effects. Doing the same with a blend of a tablespoon of aloe gel and a teaspoon of organic coconut oil works to help reduce aging, some suggest.
You can further better your beauty routine by using aloe vera gel as a base for an exfoliator by mixing half a cup of the gel with brown sugar or baking soda, just enough so you can feel the gritty texture. Take the stuff and start rubbing it all over your rough parts and bask in the delightful softness you feel after rinsing off. Thanks to the ingredients in aloe, you won’t have to worry about irritation.
Yet another fun homemade concoction is this recipe for a hand sanitizer. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have a tendency to leave your skin feeling dry, which is more than a little unpleasant. Many lotions and hand soaps combat this in their own way, but you can give this a go: half a cup of aloe gel, a quarter cup of rubbing alcohol and 20 drops of an essential oil you like. It’ll smell good, sanitize your hands and, thanks to the aloe, keep them moisturized.
There is some evidence to support the idea that aloe vera can be used to combat the symptoms of genital herpes and some skin conditions such as psoriasis and acne. In early testing done by the University of Maryland, it was found that aloe vera gel outperformed some medications when it came to reducing inflammation. Testing also discovered aloe, when mixed with tretinoin, is great for treating acne, better than when using tretinoin on its own.
That quarter cup of aloe vera mentioned in the bad breath drink is about as much as you should ingest at once unless you need to get things moving in your digestive system. Aloe vera can also be used as a laxative when taken in larger quantities. This is especially true for the juice of the aloe which can be taken from the skin of the plant, rather than the gel. This, however, is not a recommended use, as it can cause some extreme cramping.
After peeling off the skin and washing off the gel, chunks of the inner meat of the aloe vera plant can be placed into a salad, or even used as the main ingredient of a salad, with a little doctoring up with some herbs and such. You can also mix some of the gel in with your salad dressing to reap those benefits.
Consuming the juice of the aloe vera plant can also be a boon to your health. You can actually eat the plant completely raw, getting to the gel inside by crushing up the meat of the plant to help release the juices. To make it easier to consume, you can create a juice of sorts by soaking the plant in water overnight, then drinking the water the next day. Instead of water, you can also mix the stuff in with various kinds of juice.
If you’re looking for something a little different, try cooking aloe vera. You don’t want to do anything harsh such as frying, but if you poach it, you’ll find it gets very soft and the weird, sticky texture of the gel fades away, leaving behind the meat of the plant with its mild flavor. You can cook it with spicy and potent herbs to get the flavors really going.
There is much to keep in mind when it comes to aloe. The fact it cools and helps your skin out is undeniable, and this is likely done by the aforementioned chemicals and the cooling effects of the water within. However, there hasn’t been a significant amount of actual testing over the years. Tests have been small, and more needs to be done to truly grasp what Aloe can do.
One compound in the plant has even been picked up by a pharmaceutical company to be used in medications, and the FDA has approved it, so there is work being done, but for now, use aloe as a supplement, it isn’t a cure-all. It is also noted it shouldn’t be applied directly to open wounds, as this hasn’t been studied especially well, either.
There are hundreds of varieties of aloe out there, but what you’re looking for is aloe vera. It is also known by its fancy name of Aloe Barbadensis, so ask for that if you want to look like you know everything. Aloe plants can be purchased at most plant stores. Just make sure the one you buy is nice and green.
Wondering how to care for an aloe vera plant? There are two ways to keep your aloe vera plants. You can have them in a pot indoors or plant them in a planter or pot outdoors, or even in your yard. The two methods do have different steps you should take to make sure your plant stays healthy and alive, though neither one is anything for which you need a verdant green thumb.
There are lots of aloe vera growing tips. If you live in an apartment, or just want to keep the stuff out of your yard, potting your aloe is a great way to make sure you have the plant at hand when you need it. Growing indoors is also ideal for colder climates, as the aloe plants originate in tropical climates.
Aloe is a succulent, and there is potting soil specifically designed for such plants. You’ll want a wide pot, to make sure it has room to grow, and you’ll want to make sure the pot has good drainage as you don’t want too much water on the roots at all times.
As with most plants, caring for an aloe plant has important things to remember, like how it’s important for the aloe to have sunlight. It should be between eight and six hours a day and should be indirect. From time to time throughout the week you may want to give the pot a spin to make sure all sides are getting their fair share of sunlight.
Watering is an easy thing and only needs to be done every once in awhile. After watering, don’t water again until the water has dried or drained by one to two inches from the top. If you’ve got too much water, you risk having the roots of the plant begin to rot, hence the need for drainage.
When it’s a warmer part of the year, you can keep the plant pretty moist, but it is recommended to reduce the amount you water in the colder parts of the year as the soil will take longer to dry, putting you at an increased risk for rot.
Once the plant starts getting large and heavy, you may find you’ll need to repot it in order to keep the roots from getting tangled up on each other, or growing strangely in a condition called being root-bound. In time, your plant may also begin to grow smaller plants, which will require removal to keep the original from losing out on nutrients and such.
It should be no surprise that growing the aloe plant outdoors is the best option, considering outside is its natural environment. If you’re especially gung-ho, you can grow your plant outside during the warm months, then pot it up and bring it in for during the colder months, giving your aloe its best chance to thrive in colder environments.
In the more tropical parts of the world, you don’t really have any reason not to grow your plant outdoors, assuming you’ve got the space. If you live in USDA zones 8 through 11, you’re good to go. For the most part, you’ll just need to get it into the ground in some loose dirt and let it do its thing. In the ground, the plants are fairly low maintenance, needing only sunlight and a bit of water from time to time.
If you don’t live in one of those zones, you can still have your plant outside, but it will likely need to remain in some sort of pot.