Clear skies and blazing sun, drying winds and ocean surf are the perfect combination for damaging your skin. Unless, of course, you have aloe vera plants nearby to protect you from the elements.
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 English 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. After 30 years of growing aloe, here are 10 best ways to use Aloe Vera that has been discovered.
1. Soothes Burns and Heals Wounds
Whether it’s sunburn, burns, cuts and scraps aloe is the best. Applied to wounds, aloe gel is a mild anesthetic, relieving itching, swelling, and pain; it is also antibacterial and antifungal. It increases blood flow to wounded areas and stimulates fibroblasts, the skin cells responsible for healing wounds.
2. Eases Intestinal Problems
Aloe vera juice can be very effective for treating most digestive conditions. The juice helps to detoxify the bowel, neutralize stomach acidity and relieve constipation and gastric ulcers.
3. Reduces Arthritic Swelling
Applications of aloe can reduce pain and swelling of arthritis, and drinking aloe juice also helps to inhibit the autoimmune reaction associated with certain forms of arthritis, in which the body attacks its own tissues.
4. Heals Psoriasis Lesions
Aloe is the best natural treatment for psoriasis and eczema. In most cases, the lesions are even cured using aloe.
5. Gum Infections
Washing one’s mouth with aloe juice several times a day can heal stubborn infections. Blend the fresh gel of a leaf without the skin or any water, and gargle.
6. Eye irritations and injuries
Apply 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 an eye.
7. Strains and sprains
Aloe is an excellent treatment that can be applied immediately to cool, sooth and reduce the swelling of the joint. Blend the gel of a fresh leaf without water to make a poultice for the injury.
8. Lung congestion
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.
9. Rashes and allergic reactions on the skin
In the tropics, these types of skin issues are common. Try aloe gel as a natural first aid treatment.
10. Lowering blood sugar levels in the blood
Aloe can be part of a successful program in treating diabetes. Aloe juice can be taken several times a day between meals to help heal the pancreas and liver.
I can’t imagine living in the tropics without my friends the aloe plants. If you’d like to get started growing aloe it’s easy. You don’ t even need a green thumb to grow aloe at home. 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. 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.
For more on tropical gardening in Costa Rica, visit the New Dawn Educational Website
This article first appeared in the Tico Times in 2013