We had a listener inquire about aloe, so we went to our favorite Green Diva herbalist and healer, Brigitte Mars, who answered her question and more. Listen to this Green Divas Health & Beauty podcast, then read on for more details about aloe.
Almost All You Need to Know About Aloe
Aloe vera, a. barbadensis, a. ferox
The word aloe is derived from the Arabic word alloeh, which means shiny and bitter and refers to the aloe gel. Vera means true in Latin.
Gelatinous substance in the stalks
Important constituents: aloins, anthraquinones, polysaccharides, salicylic acids, calcium oxalate, glucose
Cool, bitter, moist
Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, biogenis stimulator, cholagogue, demulcent, emmenagogue, emollient, laxative, purgative, rejuvenative, and vulnerary
- References to its use as a healing agent can be found amongst early Egyptian, Chinese, Greek, Indian, and Christian literature. Legend says that it was the desire for aloe plants that caused Alexander the Great to conquer the island, Socotra, where aloe was cultivated in the fourth century B.C. Aloe is also thought to have been one of Cleopatra’s beauty secrets.
- Aloe vera gel cools heat and inflammation in the body. It helps the body slough off dead tissue and stimulates the formation of new cells and can help prevent scarring.
- It is also known to help with arthritis, bursitis, burns, constipation, dysentery, jaundice, sore throat, tuberculosis, and ulcers among other things.
- Applications of aloe as a lotion, poultice, salve, shampoo, or spray are all used to improve: acne, bites, boils, burns, dandruff, dermatitis, fever, hemorrhoids, herpes, insect bites, poison ivy, psoriasis, rashes, ringworm, scars, sunburn, and wounds.
- As a flower essence aloe vera restores inner balance in cases of exhaustion.
African hunters sometimes rub aloe juice on their bodies to reduce sweating and mask human scent.
Parents have sometimes applied aloe gel to the finger tips of children that bite their nails in order to get them to break the habit.
Around the world, aloe is considered a symbol of good luck.
Some people include aloe juice as a beverage, in a shot glass taken twenty minutes before a meal to heal irritated digestive surfaces. It is often mixed with juices or in smoothies, for health purposes.
- Aloe should not be used internally during pregnancy.
- Using aloe during nursing may have an overly laxative effect on the infant.
- Excessive use may aggravate hemorrhoids.
- High doses may cause vomiting.
- When used as a laxative, combine with other carminative herbs to prevent gripe.
- When used topically, aloe is best combined with other moisturizing ingredients to prevent drying the skin.
range and appearance
Aloe, a perennial plant, grows in full sun, without too much water. It can be stemless or with very short stems. The leaves are lanceolate, thick, and fleshy, green to gray green in color with a serrated margin. The flowers are produced on a spike, each flower pendulous with a yellow tubular corolla. Aloe is one of the easiest house plants to grow. There is a saying that, “if you can’t grow aloe, get plastic plants.”