Family: Liliaceae; other members include lily, tulip, garlic and onion

Genus and species: Aloe vera and an estimated 500 other species

Also known as: Cape, Barbados, Curaiao, Socotrine and Zanzibar aloe

Parts used: Leaves (gel and juice, or latex)

Therapeutic Uses

Wounds (including burns, scalds, scrapes and sunburn), infections, psoriasis, general skin care.

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Aloe contains various compounds — bradykinase, salicycli acid and magnesium lactate — that reduce the inflammation, swelling and redness of wounds.  They also help relieve pain and itching.

Aloe works best for superficial wounds. In a study in the Journal of Dermatology and Surgical Oncology, the herb sped the healing of pimples by 3 days compared with standard medical treatment.  Personally as a teen I used pure aloe jell on my face and it cleared up my acne very quickly.  I had the cheerleaders asking what I was using to clear up my skin and make it look so good. (The jocks hated that the cheerleaders were talking to me lol).

As a rule of thumb, feel free to use aloe gel on wounds that don’t require stitches, but do not use it to treat deep wounds ds that require stitches.

Infections — It not only spurs wound healing, it also helps keep injured skin from getting infected.  Several studies have found aloe to be effective against many different bacteria and fungi that can invade a wound, including escherichia coli and strains of staphylococcus, streptococcus, salmonella, shigella, and candida.  It also boosts the immune system which helps the body fight infection.

Psoriasis – this skin condition, which affects some 5 million Americans, causes eruptions of red, raised skin patches that are usually topped with gray, white or silvery scaly tissue.

General skin care — It was rumored that Cleopatra massaged aloe gel into her skin to make it shine and it is a popular ingredient in skin care products.  Fresh gel is the best to use since over the counter products may not provide the same benefits as fresh.

Studies show that it may kill the fungus that causes vaginal yeast infections.  This is not to say that it will if you have a yeast infection.

Rx Recommendations

To help soothe wounds, including burns, scalds, scrapes and sunburn and to help prevent infection, select a lower (older) aloe leaf and cut off several inches.  Then slice it lengthwise, scoop the gel onto the wound and let it dry.  Be sure to clean the would properly with soap and water first.  As for the injured leaf, it quickly closes it’s wound.  You can cut more in the future as needed.

Safety Factor:

It is safe for external use by anyone who does not develop an allergic reaction.  If a wound does not heal within 2 weeks OR it seems to be getting worse, consult with your doctor.

Growing information:

It is the perfect houseplant for people with a brown thong because it requires little water and no care.  It prefers sun but it tolerates shade and doesn’t mind poor soil.  It can not tolerate poor drainage and cold temperatures.  If it is going to be below 40, take the plant in the house.  It will produce offshoots, you can take those and plant them for another plant.  Living here in Costa Rica we keep our Aloe in the shade, we noticed that with too much sun the leaves turn a tan/brown color instead of the dark green color that everyone is use to seeing.