Aloe Vera: The Plant with Miraculous Healing Powers
Aloe Vera is the best known member of the Aloe family, which includes about 250 species. These lush plants are called “succulents” because their thick, juicy flesh holds so much sap. Most aloe species came from Africa. Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis) was probably brought from Egypt to India by Arabs. It now grows wild in India’s coastal lands: for example, in Gujarat and Mumbai.
Egyptians have used Aloe for healing for thousands of years. In India, Ayurvedic medicine prescribes it for internal and external use. Aloe is an ingredient in many Western cosmetics and some skin salves. Aloe Vera provides a simple home remedy for minor burns or other skin irritations. The sap is a watery gel in consistency. Pluck and slice open a leaf nearest the ground, then apply the sap to the cut or burn. It should feel cool and soothing. Indian Ayurvedic medicine has several hundred uses for Aloe Vera. Externally, it may be used for:
Acne and related cosmetic problems
Burns including sunburn or scalds
Insect bites or stings
Moisturizing skin and reducing wrinkles
For internal use, Ayurvedic practitioners may make preparations of Aloe to treat:
Digestive problems such as constipation, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome
Some practitioners and commercial firms take care to use a variety of plants for internal medications. There is a concern that, as a laxative, Aloe Vera alone is too powerful for most treatments. A few practitioners of herbal medicine may hype much grander claims for the healing properties of Aloe Vera. Generally the wisest course is to seek counsel from the most qualified doctors.