Aloe

posted Sep 1, 2014, 6:43 PM by Ivy Hunter   [ updated Nov 14, 2014, 12:03 PM ]
Aloe vera, a perrennial succulent with large leaves and tubular red or yellow flowers. They make decorative plants as well as offering some healing lore. They often stay healthy and well in a pot for years. They may flower repeatedly. Potting mixture for Aloe includes three parts sandy loam, one part broken brick at the base for high drainage, and some added crushed limestone or dolomite for pH. Compost or decomposed vegetable scraps are best for fertilizer just twice a year.
Pot the plant and press in firmly to be sure the water can evenly penetrate the soil. Gently water for the first watering. Then water very little except when the plant has its growth spurts in the spring.
Aloe will thrive best when the humidity is low and can stand full sun or window light. Either way, this is a very easy plant to grow.

Aloe also gives us some medicinal benefits as well.
Common trade names for aloe products include Aloe Gel, Aloe Latex, Aloe Vera, and Cape Aloe.
Common plant varieties that contain the beneficial effects include Aloe barbadensis, A. capensis, A. vera, Barbados aloes, burn plant, Curacao aloe, elephant's gall, first-aid plant, Hsiang-dan, lily of hte desert, lu-hui, socotrine, Zanzibar.

The forms used include sale as extract capsules of 75mg, 100mg, and 200 mg. Also comes as a topical gel with varying purity strength, or beverage.

The Aloe latex is evaporated and leaves a solid or semi solid residue that contains aloinosides which produce a laxative effect by irritating the large intestine and increasing peristalsis as a result - the movement of fecal matter through the large intestine. While in the large intestine Aloe inhibits water re-absorption as well as electrolyte re-absorption including potassium. This can lead to a reduced level of bio-available potassium from foods or supplements so they should be taken 2 - 6 hours apart. To prepare the latex, crush the outer flesh of the leaf, strain, and dry the yellowish latex to brown granules. This is not to be taken without consulting a doctor or naturopath who is aware of the difference of latex and gel.

Aloe gel can be made by removing the outer flesh of the leaf, rinsing or soaking prior to a good rinse, and crushing up the gel type center. This gel has a polysaccharide that contains wound-healing abilities because it has a moisturizing effect. Keeping a wound moist speeds the healing time. It acts like a second skin preventing the wound from drying out. It also has some compounds that may stimulate healing such as mucopolysaccharides, sulfur, and nitrogen. Aloe gel can also be used on burns since it contains a topical pain reliever called bradykinase (a protease inhibitor). Aloe gel also contains magnesium lactate - which gives an anti-itch effect.

To use Aloe as a laxative take 100 to 200 mg of aloe capsules, or 50 mg of aloe extract mixed in 1 - 8 ounces of purified water or juice at bedtime. You can also eat the aloe gel - 30 milliliters is all thats needed.
For a sunburn, apply the aloe gel liberally over the burn and keep cool out of the sun as possible to prevent further burning. Aloe gel is not a sunscreen.

Consult your doctor before taking aloe if you take heart pills since it may contribute to arrhythmia's and edema. Read the product labels carefully and know your source - it may displace and free lead from cellular storage and lead to a toxic reaction if not detoxified properly, so if you think you may have been exposed to lead at any time in your life go seek a hair mineral analysis test to determine how high you lead levels are before beginning aloe therapy. Aloe may lower blood sugar when used with food due to its absorptive effects, so monitor your sugar levels if you are susceptible to low or high blood sugar levels. This may cause potassium loss and if you are already on a diuretic that causes potassium loss it's important to avoid taking this product without consulting your doctor first (I've said that before, but I just want to be sure you do that first). The potassium loss can also be increased if you are taking licorice - another herb t hat causes potassium loss, so you may need to supplement with foods such as avocados to increase the potassium levels in your food, and take them separately by about 4 hours to ensure the best absorption of the potassium containing foods. If you have been using aloe vera long term, you may want to have your potassium levels checked.

Resources:

Nursing Herbal Medicine. Nursing2004 Herbal Medicine Handbook (Nherbal04) Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Powered by Skyscape.

Organic Gardening and Farming Magazine. 1959. Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. J.I. Rodale. Et. Al. Rodale Booke, Inc., Emmaus, Penna.

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