I can’t imagine living in the tropics without my friends the aloe plants. They have helped us so many times with our health issues, and they are so easy to grow you don’ t even need a green thumb.
Local nurseries around the country offer aloe vera plants, and many times you’ll find a neighbor who’s kind enough to share some young plants with you. Potted aloe pots only need sandy soil and watering once or twice a week. Keep the plants in an area of the home where there’s good morning sun with a bit of partial shade. You can water them once a month with an organic soluble fertilizer to boost their growth. I’d suggest a family have a half-dozen or more aloe plants adorning the home so that you can harvest aloe leaves whenever you need them. Young aloe plants arise around the mother plants, and can be transplanted into separate pots to expand your collection.
Known as the “potted physician,” this cactus-like plant with long, green leaves filled with a clear gel was brought from Africa to North America in the sixteenth century. The Brits brought aloe vera to Barbados to provide their sailors protection from long hours of working in the sun. Today, researchers are verifying the exceptional healing properties of aloe, most of which can be viewed online.
Whether it’s sunburn, burns or scrapes, aloe is the best antidote. Applied to wounds, aloe gel is a mild anesthetic, relieving pain and swelling while acting as a powerful antibacterial and antifungal agent. Aloe also increases blood flow to wounded areas, and stimulates fibroblasts, the skin cells responsible for wound healing. Aloe also one of the best natural treatment for psoriasis and eczema. Rashes and allergic reactions on the skin are also common in the tropics, and aloe gel does the trick. It’s also an excellent treatment for strains and sprains, providing immediate cool, soothing relief while reducing the swelling of the injury. Blend the gel of a fresh leaf without water to make a poultice for the injury.
Applications of aloe can reduce pain and swelling of arthritis. Drinking aloe juice also helps to inhibit the autoimmune reaction associated with certain forms of arthritis, in which the body attacks its own tissues. Eye irritations and injuries can be treated by applying a freshly cut slice of aloe over the closed eye – then open the eyelid to coat it with aloe. It’s a great treatment when you have a small particle stuck in the eye.
A mouthwash of aloe juice several times a day can heal stubborn gum infections. Blend the fresh gel of a leaf without the skin without water and gargle. Aloe vera juice can be very effective for treating most digestive conditions. It also helps to detoxify the intestines, neutralize stomach acidity, and relieve constipation and gastric ulcers.
Aloe acts as a powerful expectorant when the lungs are congested. Blend the gel of aloe with lemon juice and water and drink freely during the day. Aloe can be part of a successful program in treating diabetes, and can be taken several times a day between meals to helps heal the pancreas and liver. Finally, aloe juice has been shown to be a valuable addition to nutritional healing in many chronic degenerative diseases.
Read more of Ed Bernhardt’s monthly Home Gardening columns here.