Have you ever spent too much time in the sun, only to find yourself as red as a lobster the next day? The discomfort of a bad sunburn can last days and might be one of the worst setbacks to enjoying a relaxing weekend at the beach.
Luckily for us, there’s a plant that can help! That plant is aloe vera, one of the most widely used medicinal plants out there. Before we dive into how to use it, let’s go over the basics and learn some info about the plant itself.
The aloe vera plant shares its common name with its scientific name. The genus Aloe actually contains over 500 species! We’re going to be talking about the species Aloe vera, which is probably the best known and widely used species in the group. Aloe vera is a succulent, meaning it holds water in its leaves that it uses to stay hydrated. This is important in the dry climates of the sunny Arabian peninsula where it’s native. The spiny plant stores its water in a gooey Jell-O-like substance in the leaves. This gel is the medicine that’s used by humans. The gel is 96% water, with the rest consisting of beneficial vitamins and minerals.
People have been using aloe vera for millennia. It’s one of the most important medicinal plants. It’s used in traditional treatments, modern cosmetics, and even food! Here’s how to use the “wonder plant.”
To get rid of that painful sunburn, aloe vera gel is the go-to treatment. Simply spreading the gel on your skin provides instant relief, and reduces the amount of time it takes to heal. There are loads of over-the-counter aloe vera based lotions you can buy at a store, but nothing beats using the gel straight from the plant.
If you have a plant handy and don’t mind removing an entire leaf (don’t kill the plant!), you can use the gel directly from the plant.
- Cut the leaf open and you’ll have more aloe vera gel than you can handle.
- Once opened, let the yellow latex ooze out of the plant. This latex isn’t normally used.
- Remove the gel from the outside of the leaf with a knife or your hands, being careful of the spines on the leaves.
- Cut the gel into cubes that are easier to work with.
- Afterward, rub the gel on your burnt skin and feel the soothing sensation of the plant.
- Save the rest in a container for later, preferably in the fridge. Cold aloe vera gel soothes burnt skin even better.
There are plenty of recipes that can teach you how to make different types of lotions and cosmetics with aloe vera gel. When used in different ways, aloe vera not only helps with burns but can help clear acne, heal rashes, and improve general skin health!
Some juices and smoothies use aloe vera gel as an ingredient. The taste of the plant is incredibly bitter, so make sure you use enough sugar to balance out the taste! Many stores carry pure, pre-sweetened aloe vera juice that can be incredibly refreshing on a hot day.
Warning! If you have an allergy to onions or garlic, it’s probably not a good idea to consume aloe vera. You should ask a doctor before eating it.
Aloe vera plants are incredibly hardy, heat and drought resistance plants! They make great ornamentals for homes and gardens, largely thanks to their tall flowering structures. Plus, they come in a variety of shapes and colors. Although not all of them are the species Aloe vera, most make great potted plants.
When grown in the right conditions, aloe vera will thrive and constantly put out new leaves which can eventually be harvested. Good care combined with managing the harvesting means a potted aloe vera plant can provide you with gel-filled leaves for multiple years.
Do you use the aloe vera plant? Let us know how below!