Aloe Vera - Aloe barbadensis

Aloe Vera

Aloe barbadensis

Aloe vera, which is frequently praised for its calming effects, is most frequently applied topically to treat burns, sunburns, and skin abrasions, but when eaten orally, this ancient plant may have more potent therapeutic properties.

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Aloe, Barbados aloe, Cape aloe, Lily of the Desert
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Fresh leaves, gel extracted from fresh leaves
  • Side Effects:
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About Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a species of succulent plant in the Aloe genus. The plant has thick, fleshy, greenish leaves that fan out from the stem at the center and is stemless or has extremely short stems. The leaf's margin is toothed and serrated.

Aloe vera, which is frequently praised for its calming effects, is most frequently applied topically to treat burns, sunburns, and skin abrasions, but when eaten orally, this ancient plant may have more potent therapeutic properties. Aloe vera is commonly used in skin creams and cosmetics because it hydrates skin and offers anti-aging properties. On the other hand, the plant has long been regarded as a potent superfood by many people who adhere to a natural medicine ideology. 

It's gel contains 99.5% water while the remaining 0.5% is composed of amino acids, polysaccharides, phytosterols, vitamins A, C, D, and E, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Most people are familiar with gel but there is latex/juice too that comes out when the leaf is cut which is quite bitter and induces an allergic reaction.

Growing

Aloe vera thrives in warm regions and should be started in summer to give it optimal conditions for better growth. It can be started with either seed or stem cuttings in a well-drained potting mix. You can also plant it indoors, providing it at least 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit of temperature during winter.

If the plant is started with a stem cutting, make sure it is not watered for a week, or else the chances of rot increase. After this one-week phase, water it only twice a week and keep it in a bright sunny spot.

Aloe vera seeds germinate within 2-4 weeks. During this time, it is made sure the seeds and seedlings receive proper sunlight. Its growth rate is relatively slow compared to many other plants. It tends to develop new leaves within a week or two. 

However, it is rare to achieve flowers with indoor aloe vera but those in the gardens can produce inflorescence which gives numerous red and yellow blossoms. It blooms in early spring and late winter. 

After fertilization, aloe vera flowers turn into pods that contain seeds. The pods can be split open to extract the seeds and use them to grow a new plant.

Harvesting

For ripe aloe vera leaves, harvest them when the tip of the leaf turns rosy. 

Aloe vera leaves are harvested using a sharp knife while wearing thick gloves to avoid getting nicked by the small spikes on the edges of the leaves.

Aloe vera leaves should be used within a day or two after their harvest or they will go bad. You can store it for a year by freezing it in the refrigerator. You can also dry its gel in the dehydrator at 135 degrees by exposing the pulpy side with a knife. It can take around 48 to 56 hours and the process is rarely done because the nutrient profile gets disrupted.

Usage

Aloe vera is a readily marketed plant due to its magnificent benefits.

  • Tincture : Fresh aloe vera leaves are finely chopped or blended in a processor and macerated in alcohol with a dollop of honey and let sit for a week. Strain the plant material away after maceration and pour the extract into a glass bottle for later use.
  • Tea: Let fresh aloe vera leaves sit in hot water for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir a teaspoon of honey and enjoy aloe tea.
  • Salve: Aloe vera gel and melted beeswax are stirred together and left to congeal to form an aloe salve.
  • Syrup: Aloe vera gel is blended in a processor with water and strained. The mixture is then stirred with a freshly prepared sugar solution on low flame to form a syrup.
  • Infused oil: Aloe vera gel is heated in a pan with carrier oil until it turns brown. The oil is then strained and poured into a glass bottle for later use.