This succulent perennial of the lily family is indigenous to East and southern Africa, but grows happily in other tropical places. In temperate climates it grows as a houseplant. There are two distinct parts of Aloe vera used in healing: the juice, extracted from the base of the leaf (which can be dried to a powder) and the juicy gel from inside the leaves.
Aloe was known to the Ancient Greeks, and has been used medicinally since the 4th century BC as described by Dioscorides and Pliny. It grew on the island of Socotra. The aloe plant has been revered in Islam as a religious symbol. Pilgrims would carry it to the Prophet’s shrine and then hang it over their own doorway at home for protection. One kind of aloe was traditionally planteel at the foot of a grave-to lend patience to the dead while they waited for resurrection.
In Sanskrit aloe’s name kiimari means a young girl or virgin, because the plant apparently imparts the energy of youth and brings about the renewal of female energy. Aloe vera is a remarkably resilient plant. It is protected against drought by its succulent leaves. Even if left with no water until shrivelled, a leaf once immersed in water for a few hours will become plump and fresh again. It also heals itself remarkably quickly if a leaf is damaged.
Aloe juice is a powerful laxative or purgative, and should be taken with a carminative such as ginger or turmeric otherwise it may cause severe griping. It helps control micro-organisms in the gut.
Aloe gel has a wide variety of therapeutic uses. It acts as a bitter tonic to the liver and the whole of the digestive tract. It enhances the secretion of digestive enzymes, balances acid in the stomach, aids digestion and regulates sugar and fat metabolism. Aloe gel has wonderful demulcent properties, soothing and protecting the lining of the gut. It can be used to treat colitis, peptic ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. It has a generally cooling and moistening effect and can be used for problems associated with excess heat and inflammation. It is particularly useful for hot fiery people, who are prone to inflammatory problems and to feelings of anger, irritability and self-criticism.
Externally, aloe gel has remarkable healing powers. It is used for treating burns including sunburn, and after radiation therapy. It also relieves pain, soothes inflammation and has a mildly antibiotic effect. It is used in lotions to rejuvenate the skin and reduce wrinkles. Legend has it that Cleopatra used it to maintain her beauty. It is excellent for sensitive and allergic skin conditions. In shampoos it improves the condition of dry, brittle hair. Aloe gel is applied to haemorrhoids to soothe pain and irritation and speed healing. It makes a useful application to relieve irritating skin conditions.
Homeopathic remedy: Aloe Socotrina
Aloe also has an affinity with the digestive tract, the liver and reproductive system. An aloe person tends to feel angry at themselves, and feel dissatisfied and ill humoured particularly on cloudy days. They feel exhausted, disinclined to work, anxious or restless, and are worse in hear and feel better when cool. Their physical symptoms are characterized by heat and congestion, and internal complaints are often expressed through inflammatory skin problems. They are generally worse in hot conditions, worse if constipated, and feel better in cool conditions or with cool applications, and they long for juicy things. There can be a feeling of fullness in the liver area, burning and irritating haemorrhoids, which may be so bad as to resemble a bunch of grapes. It can relieve painful periods, labour-like pains in the loins and groin which are worse on standing.
The flower essence
The theme of renewal of energy and rejuvenation continues through aloe’s use as a flower essence. As in herbal medicine and homeopathy, aloe particularly suits those who have a fiery, creative constitution, who are suffering from lethargy or exhaustion having burnt themselves out. It is an excellent remedy for ‘workaholics’ who tend to drive themselves so hard that they neglect their physical and emotional needs in order to accomplish their goals. They may be driven by self-criticism and have strong willpower, but eventually deplete their inner energy. Aloe vera pours ‘water’ on excess ‘fire’.
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About the Author: Greenery always attracts Arthur Kunkle. He has a big garden where he plants many fruits and vegetables. His passion for gardening motivates him to write and share different tips on gardening.