Saturday, December 5, 2015

First Aid with Aloe Vera

If someone in your home gets a little nick, scrape or burn, dab a coating of fresh aloe vera on the injury. Clinical studies have shown fresh aloe vera gel to promote wound healing by stimulating tissue repair.

Whenever I apply it on an injury, I leave a thick coating on because of the known hydrating, insulating and protective properties of the gel. It dries up pretty quickly and isn't noticeable after a while. In fact, I favor it over the drugstore-bought bandages when it comes to sunburns and those minor but common burn accidents in the kitchen. Research compiled indicates that healing time for burn injuries is about eight days shorter than those in control groups.

The gel I’m talking about, though, is taken fresh from the plant—not the type you can buy in tubes or jars in retail stores. Many of the active ingredients appear to deteriorate with storage or pasteurization at high temperatures. 

Aloe Vera is Easy to Grow
Fear not, you brown thumbs reading this! Aloe vera is a tropical plant that feels right at home in the Philippines, making it incredibly easy to grow. It can be grown outdoors or in the house by a sunny window. It doesn’t need much watering; in fact, it prefers infrequent watering. It’s a succulent, making its care similar to what you would give a cactus. And because it’s also very easy to propagate, you can buy it at a very affordable price from most plant stores.

When cutting a leaf for your use, make a clean cut at the base of the leaf (use a sharp knife or garden shears; don’t just break it off), as close as you can to where the plant meets the soil surface. Since you can extract a lot of gel from just one cut leaf, you can reuse it over several days as your wound heals. Wrap the aloe vera in a plastic sheet or foil and keep it in the refrigerator. Cut off the end and extract from the newly exposed part each time you need to get more gel, then reseal.

Other Uses of Aloe Vera 
Given all the research going on about this low-maintenance plant, there’s no reason for a home not to have at least one pot around.  I’ve heard of people keeping the gel on for half an hour as a facemask to keep skin moisturized and youthful looking. Others mix it with rubbing alcohol to make homemade hand sanitizers. They add a few drops of essential oil to give it a nice scent. 

What about you? Do you have a handy use for aloe vera that you’d like to share?

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