Everybody should have an aloe vera plant in the home. Not only are they pleasantly decorative and low maintenance, but they also double as a miniature all-natural medicine cabinet.
Aloe’s ability to calm red, sore and sunburned skin is certainly well known, and with good reason. All you need to do is break off one of the plump, gel-filled leaves and smear the greenish goo onto the affected area for instant relief.
Aloe not only soothes sunburn, but also almost any skin irritation, from bug bites to acne and rashes to psoriasis will benefit from a little aloe. It has also been found to speed up wound healing, and many use it as a beauty aid to keep skin hydrated and wrinkle-free.
Beyond the burn
But this unassuming desert plant is good for more than combating the effects of over-exposure to the sun and dry, itchy skin.
Aloe vera can also be taken internally. Although aloe vera juice can be purchased in bottles, if you have an aloe plant of your own, it’s just as easy to peel the outer layers off the leaves and pop the gel into a blender with your favorite fruits for a great-tasting smoothie.
The aloe will boost the vitamin and mineral content of your smoothie significantly: it contains vitamins A,C, E, folic acid and various B vitamins, including B12 (it’s one of the few plants that contains this important vitamin). It also contains calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper and manganese.
All these nutrients combine to reduce gastric inflammation and ulcers, alleviate irritable bowel syndrome and acid reflux and decrease bad bacteria in the gut.
It is also a powerful detoxifier, moving through the gut and absorbing toxins along the way, and it is also alkalizing, helping to balance an acidic diet, and may also have the ability to lower blood sugar.
Juicing your own aloe
1. Select an aloe vera plant that is at least 2 to 3 years old. The thicker the stem, the better. What you are after is the gel that is enclosed between the thick outer layers.
2. Lay the aloe vera on a flat surface, and use a sharp knife to slice off the tough outer skin.
3. Remove the thin yellow layer that lies under the skin, leaving you with pure aloe vera gel.
4. Use a spoon to scoop up the gel, and add to either a citrus juice or a fruit smoothie and blend. Use about 2 teaspoons of the gel per serving.