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Medicinal Uses of Aloe Vera
The health benefits and medicinal uses of aloe vera have been noted for centuries. It has been used by numerous cultures as a remedy and a beauty product.
The earliest mention of aloe vera seems to be a Sumerian tablet from about 2200 B.C.. By the Middle Ages, aloe vera was in widespread use among the people. During the Crusades the aloe vera was discovered by Europeans and the dried sap of the plant began being imported to all areas of Europe.
From there the plant gained popularity as a remedy for external irritations and skin problems. The explorers brought it with them to the New World, where it flourished in the Caribbean, Central and South Americas. It was planted around the missions as part of the medical herb gardens that helped treat the missionaries, as well as the native people, for illness.
Modern Medicinal Uses of Aloe Vera
Modern society is rediscovering the value of the aloe vera plant. It can be used internally as well as externally for a variety of illnesses.
- Rub gel on burns
- Surgical wounds
- Chicken pox
- Insect bites
- Poison ivy
- Dry skin
- Kidney infections
- Acid reflux
- Crohn's Disease
- Irritable bowel
Using Aloe Vera
The most common way to use aloe vera is to snip one of the pulpy leaves off the plant and squeeze the gel on the affected area. For the healing of scars and burns the leaves can be sliced in half vertically and applied to a larger area, held in place with an elastic wrap if necessary.
To prepare aloe vera for internal use, cut the leaves from the plant. Don't cut too many at once or you could kill the aloe vera. Carefully rinse them and then peel. There may be a brown substance that comes from it as you cut. Be sure to rinse this off the gel as it will have a strong laxative effect.
Place the gel in your blender with enough purified water to make a juice. It is very important that you check with your doctor before you ingest aloe vera. There are certain people who should not take aloe vera internally. Some of the reasons are listed below.
Aloe Vera Side Effects and Cautions
Some people do experience side effects when using aloe vera. Some of these are:
- Dehydration due to frequent stools
- Stomach cramping
- Irregular heartbeat
- Lowered potassium levels
In addition you should not take Aloe Vera internally if you have:
- Kidney problems
- Heart disease
- Allergies to onions, garlic, or tulips
If you are are medication there can be a reaction with your medications, so be sure to check with a health care provider.
Growing Aloe Vera
It is easy to grow aloe vera as a house plant. They don't need a lot of care and can be easily propagated.
Just keep the plant in a sunny window during the cool months. The planter should be wide and shallow with plenty of gravel in the bottom for drainage. Soak the soil with water and then do not water again until it is completely dry.Fertilize once a year, usually just before you move them outside, with a 10-40-10 fertilizer diluted to half strength.
In the summer the plant can be moved outside. Keep them in a lightly shaded area for the first few days and allow them to adjust to the change.
The mature plant will grow small aloe veras at the base. These are called offsets and can be removed when they are about three inches tall and replanted.