Photo by Giordano Ciampini
Aloe Vera is one of the most useful and easy to grow plants. It has been called “a physician in a pot” since it can be used to treat a very broad range of illnesses. The gelatin inside the leaf can be used to treat most skin problems: burns, sunburn, insect bites, cuts, bruises, sprains, eczema, psoriasis, fungal infections and acne. In addition, it is a terrific hair conditioner.
But aloe is not just for external use. The gel, which has a slightly sour flavor and slimy texture, can be used internally as a medicinal supplement to treat digestive problems such as heart burn, ulcers, constipation, liver and gallbladder problems, and kidney and bladder malfunction. When the digestive system is balanced, the immune system is strong and vice versa. Likewise, when the skin, which is the largest body organ, is balanced, we are balanced.
According to the Journal of the American Pediatric Medical Association, there are reports of aloe as a successful treatment for arthritis, both as a preventative measure and in the reduction of inflammation in joints affected by arthritis. Another study written on cancer immunology and immunotherapy found that a compound from aloe called lectin, when injected directly into tumors, attacks the cancer. This was confirmed in a study of 673 lung cancer patients in Okinawa, Japan. This is important in our understanding of how to deal with environmental toxins we experience from vehicles and other carcinogens.
According to Ayurveda, aloe is cooling and is good for people who have a tendency towards anger, irritation or impatience. It is excellent for balancing out the tendency to overdo either in work or in relationships.
Preparations: Cut a section of the leaf, remove the spines and divide it in half. These aloe “patches” can be used to treat skin problems, for shaving, hair treatment or massage. It is important to separate the gelatin from the veins in the skin, which is bitter. This bitter flavor is called aloin and can cause a strong laxative effect. For a refreshing and healthy beverage, add one liter of water to the aloe gelatin and blend; also try adding watermelon, papaya, or honey.