HERBS: ALOE VERA

Action: Vulnerary, demulcent, emollient, laxative.

Systems Affected: Skin, stomach, intestines.

Preparation and Dosage: Fresh gel expressed from leaves applied locally. (Internal use of plant not recommended.)

Native to the dry, sunny parts of southern and eastern Africa, Aloe Vera is now cultivated commercially as a medicinal plant and also grown as a house plant or garden ornamental.

The fresh gel of the leaves has both soothing and healing properties, and is widely honored for its capacity to heal even the severest burns and irritated skin rashes.

When the soft pulpy leaves are cut or broken open, the clear juice or gel flows freely arid should be applied to the affected area as quickly as possible.

Individual drops of the gel can be used to provide relief from the irritation and itching of mosquito and other insect bites.

For tender rashes and ulcerated sores, the healing gel can be used to saturate a piece of clean gauze or cotton which is then applied to the skin.

The gel is excellent for sunburn, and other uses include windburn, chafing, ‘detergent hands’, acne, eczema, pruritis, athlete’s foot, bruises, blisters, nettle rash and joint aches.

Because of its intensely bitter taste, extract of Aloes has been used to wean children and to discourage them from thumb-sucking and fingernail-biting, a practice which seems more punitive than therapeutic.

The plant also has an important history as a crude drug dating back to the time of the ancient Greeks. Traded throughout Africa, the Middle East and Europe, the dried extract was valued for its laxative or purgative action. It is still included in many commercial laxative preparations, but it is, however, extremely powerful in effect, with the potential for doing more harm than good, and is not recommended for general use internally. Excessive or prolonged use of Aloes extract irritates the digestive tract and may induce haemorrhoids.

Cautionary Notes: Aloe Vera gel needs to be stabilized in order to retain its active properties, and is available in commercial preparations in this form. For burns, however, make sure the preparation does not contain lanolin, as this will intensify the burn.

*10/66/5*

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