Amazing Herbs to Get Started With – Tips on How to Grow Them, Their Medicinal Properties, and Recipes You’ll Love
Native Americans called it the Wand of Heaven. Ancient Egyptians called it the Plant of Immortality.
Today, aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) is probably most recognized for its role in hair and skin care products. Fair enough, but there really is so much more to this incredible plant.
The healing and soothing properties of aloe vera have made it a popular herbal and alternative medicine, as well as a highly sought ingredient in the cosmetic and food industries. Aloe vera is thought to have come from somewhere in northern Africa, but it is now cultivated all over the world for its diverse uses. The aloe vera plant is a beautiful succulent with thick leaves bordered by tiny white “teeth”.
Products made from aloe vera include aloe vera gel (for eating and as a component of creams and lotions), aloe vera juice, and aloe vera capsules.
Cultivation of Aloe Vera
The aloe vera plant is perfect for those without much gardening experience. It can grow both indoors and outdoors, and it doesn’t require a lot of TLC.
There are more than 500 known aloe species. The varieties that grow well indoors include lace aloe (Aloe aristata), the common aloe (Aloe barbadensis), and the partridge breast aloe (Aloe variegata).
Aloe vera thrives in full sun and warm temperatures. If you are keeping them indoors, make sure you give them bright artificial light or place them near a window. If you are keeping them outside, place them where they can get sunlight all day long. However, if you live in the tropics, keep them in pots so that you can control their exposure to sunlight.
Although they love the sun, too much can burn them.
Aloe vera will grow best in dry, gritty, well-drained soil that has been moderately fertilized. The plant can be a bit sensitive to over- and under-watering. Because the aloe vera plant is 95% water, avoid watering during the cold months.
Always check the soil before watering. If it is completely dry, then you can give it two cups of water. During the summer, you have to soak the soil completely and let it dry before watering again.
While your plant grows, it develops “pups” or baby aloe plants on its sides. Remove these “pups” and replant them in another pot.
Tips on Growing Aloe Vera
- If you don’t have soil suited for the needs of the plant, you can purchase a packaged cacti and succulent soil mix.
- If you wish to fertilize, use the bloom type (10-40-10) and do so only during spring.
- If the leaves of your aloe vera plant aren’t growing upwards (as they should), it isn’t getting enough light.
- If the leaves are turning brown, the plant is getting too much light.
- If the leaves aren’t fleshy and plump, the plant isn’t getting enough water.
Medicinal Uses of Aloe Vera
The aloe vera plant offers a wide variety of medicinal and cosmetic uses. For thousands of years, we have been using aloe vera for a plethora of therapeutic uses, from soothing sunburn to improving cardiovascular health. Even Cleopatra knew about the miraculous benefits of the plant!
Legend has it that applying aloe vera gel was part of her daily beauty regimen, and that it was the reason for her youthful appearance. Below are just some of the many uses of aloe vera.
Great shower buddy – Use aloe leaves as an impromptu moisturizing body scrub. Just cut off a leaf from the plant, slice it lengthwise, and scrub your body with the inner sides. You can also scoop the gel out with a spoon and use it as a liquid soap or body wash, or use it as a shampoo. Aloe vera helps hasten hair growth and reduce dandruff. Use it as a leave-on conditioner for smoother, more manageable hair.
A quick fix for skin issues – Aloe vera is your skin’s best friend. Use it to treat sunburn, psoriasis, eczema, rashes, itching, insect bites, blisters, acne, skin irritations, allergic skin reactions, and burns. Use it as an all-natural moisturizer for dry skin. Use it the way Cleopatra did and get rid of wrinkles and blemishes. Use it to exfoliate, reduce the appearance of scars, and brighten your complexion.
Relief from asthma – Use inhalation therapy to relieve the symptoms of asthma. Boil some aloe vera leaves in a pot of water and breathe in the vapors. The anti-inflammatory properties of the plant will help you breathe easier.
Loose Bowel Movement? No problem – Aloe vera juice has a laxative effect. It is also an adaptogen, which means that it is effective in relieving diarrhea and constipation. Aloe vera also aids in improving digestion, and in treating acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome.
And many more – Aloe vera helps lower cholesterol, prevents the development of kidney stones, enhances the body’s cardiovascular performance, cures candida infections, treats Crohn’s disease and ulcers, and provides glyconutrients, vitamins A, C and E, and minerals like magnesium and calcium. It helps stop the growth of tumors, detoxifies and alkalizes the body, and boosts the immune system.
Click here to see some easy to make Aloe Vera Home RemediesShare with friends!