Aloe Vera is the main ingredient in most cosmetic and medicinal products around the world. Egyptian princess Cleopatra believed the aloe vera gel for her exceptional beauty. Aloe Vera also known as ‘plant of immortality’ has many medicinal and nutritional benefits.
Native Americans called them ‘wand of heaven’ because of its medicinal values. The gel from the inside of the thick leaf is a remedy to cure many infectious diseases and skin ailments.
Where Is Aloe Vera From?
Most people are often confused thinking ‘are aloe vera cactus? well, they are succulents in fact.
Aloe Vera is a native to Arabian Peninsula and then spread to many parts of India. It needs a hot tropical and a humid climate. It is botanically called as Aloe Vera and belongs to the family of succulents.
The plant can survive with low amount of water and is drought resistant. This plant is also favoured as an indoor plant for its versatility to withstand limited sunlight and water. It can grow to a height of 25-40 inches and will bloom long-stemmed flowers of 30 inches in height. There are hundreds of species of Aloe and Aloe Vera is one of them.
What are the health benefits of Aloe Vera?
The thick, fleshy, pointed leaves of Aloe Vera contain gelatinous liquid filled in between the leaf tissues and is called as aloe vera gel. when we see aloe as an ingredient in any medicinal or cosmetic product – it directly means the usage of the gel.
The Aloe Vera gel is rich in bioactive compounds including minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. When these plants are grown at home, they are first aid for sunburns and other body ailments. The latex from the inner side of the leaf and Aloe Vera juice is also used in hydrating body and in treating some diseases. They are also used in traditional medicine like Ayurveda to treat skin ailments and infections.
The constituents of Aloe vera gel or AVG gel can be classified into five groups, namely, phenolics, saccharides, vitamins, enzymes, and low molecular weight substances. (2)
Aloe vera gel has an assortment of pharmacological properties which encompasses antiviral, antibacterial, laxative, protection against radiation, antioxidant, anti-inflammation, anticancer, antidiabetic, antiallergic, and immunostimulation properties amongst others
- How To Use Aloe Vera For Skin
The antioxidants rich aloe vera gel prevents ageing and appearance of wrinkles on the face. Vitamins and minerals make sure that when applied topically it gives best results for defying age without any side effects.
Can Aloe vera be applied for acne?
The gel is rich in antibacterial properties, which makes it best to cure acne pimple and eczema treatment. They help to tackle skin bacterial infections and in whitening skin by reducing skin discolourations caused by acne and burns. Application of Aloe Vera gel in morning and night before bedtime will keep skin moisturized and fresh looking.
How to treat sunburn on skin?
To treat sunburns, fire burns and skin sores, apply aloe vera gel twice a day keeping in mind to keep the area covered with enough gel. The topical application will help in faster healing of wounds.
In fact, research proof is available for the efficacy of aloe vera get to heal skin burn wounds. Since it has an antiseptic effect also the secondary infections also do not arise when applying the gel on burns.
How Aloe Vera benefits Skin?
Barbaloin is C-glucoside of aloe-emodin anthrone which is found in Aloe vera. Barbaloin has a variety of pharmacological activity such as strong inhibitory effect on histamine release, anti-inflammatory, cathartic, antiviral, antimicrobial, anticancer, antioxidant activity and alternative for pharmaceutical or cosmetic applications. (1)
Concentration of barbaloin in Aloe vera leaves was shown to depend on the leaf part, age, and position of the leaf. Young leaves contain more barbaloin compared to the old ones.
2.Healthy digestive system and relieves constipation
Aloe Vera juice (purified and decolorized) aids in the healthy digestive system. It also prevents and treats GERD (Gastrointestinal reflux disease) or heartburn.
It is important to let the latex present below the top layer of the leaf of aloe to seep out before making aloe vera juice.
What is latex in aloe?
Aloe Vera latex is used to relieve constipation and better bowel movement. The latex is from the inner side of leaves and not the gel. It contains a compound called aloin which has a laxative property. The latex is bitter in taste and contains chloride. Chloride increases the amount water in stools making bowel movement easier. Aloe latex remedy may cause side effects like cramping and diarrhoea.
So if you are not looking for laxative you should make sure to remove the latex.
How to remove latex from Aloe Vera Leaf?
To remove latex, place the cut aloe vera leaf in a slanting position in a bowl of water, with the cut end immersed in water.
Yellow colour latex will seep out and settle in the bottom of the bowl. Let this be for an hour before you remove the leaf and then scrape the gel for making juice.
How to Consume Aloe For Constipation?
For constipation, aloe juice or gel can be consumed directly by scraping from the young leaf. However, there is one time tested way which will give you the best results.
- Take a young aloe leaf, let it stay in a bowl of water for some time.
- Cut the side of the leaf laterally so that you can open the plant like a book.
- Now add a handful of fenugreek seeds within the two layers of the leaf.
- Using a thread tie the layers together and let the leaf rest in a cool place overnight.
- In the morning you will see the fenugreek seeds sprouted – you can consume these sprouted seeds in empty stomach.
- Fenugreek seeds are the best source of fibre, and when combined with aloe benefits it will give the best relief to constipation.
3.Reduces blood glucose level
Aloe Vera juice (purified and decolorized) help to control blood sugar level by increasing the production of insulin. Research says they are effective in controlling type 2 diabetes.
Aloe juice contains lectins, mannans and anthraquinones compounds which has anti-inflammatory properties in curing leg ulcers and other wounds associated with diabetes. The amount of sugar in Aloe Vera juice is very less or almost none; because of low carb content and 98% of aloe leaves contain water with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Studies show that aloe gel complex has the capacity to induce insulin resistance, reduces body weight and fight pre-diabetes and diabetes mellitus.
How to Take Aloe Vera for weight loss and diabetes?
Depending on your need you can take aloe vera in the form of gel or juice.
- Cut the leaf of a young aloe plant, let it stand in a slanting position in a bowl of water for 15 to 20 minutes, see the yellow latex flow out of the leaf.
- Now scrape off the outer green layer of the leaf with a thin knife, you will see gel within the parenchymatous cells.
- scrape the gel, it will come out as a slimy, glassy layer. cut this into small pieces and consume directly.
- You can also make juice from the AVG and drink it – the gel is very bitter in taste. If you are a person who is not able to stand the bitterness add aloe juice to any other fruit juice and drink.
- adding honey is an option too.
- However, taking gel/juice as such is the best way to consume.
- Take AVG early morning in empty stomach for 2 to 3 days a week and you sure are going to get rid of excess glucose in your blood.
4.Natural mouth wash
Aloe Vera juice is a natural mouth wash. Juice forms a coating on tooth preventing dental plague. They help in good oral health and prevent dental cavities from being formed.
The polysaccharides present in AVG help in fighting cavity-causing and oral ulcer-causing microbes thereby giving your teeth and mouth good protection.
5.Instant Beauty Products
Aloe Vera juice is used as homemade beauty product like makeup remover, for dry irritated skin, allergy-related skin rashes, small scrapes and bruises. Here are some ways by which you can use Aloe vera for beauty
- Aloe vera to moisturize Skin: AVG can be directly extracted from the plant and applied to your skin. Gently massage the gel on your face with an upward motion. you will find the gel slowly entering your skin and drying off, take some more and repeat.
- Heal External Wounds and insect Bites: Rashes, insect bites, cuts and bruises make your skin look very unhealthy and are painful too. use AVG as a topical application to heal them easily and quickly.
- Tips To Treat Dry Skin – Take half Aloe vera leaf, a pinch of turmeric, a teaspoon of honey, a teaspoon of cow’s milk and a couple of drops of rose water, mix this combine until you get a paste. Apply it and leave in for about twenty minutes and wash off.
- AVG Scrub – Take half a cup of fresh AVG, a cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. The sugar will help exfoliate and scrub off dead skin, the aloe makes sure your skin is cleansed at the deepest level and the lemon will help fade away scars and tan. Stir the 3 ingredients together and use it to scrub face and body.
- Aloe Vera for acne – one tablespoon AVG, two to three drops lemon juice, mix them together. Massage the gel on your face.
Aloe Vera Benefits for Hair
AVG and Aloe juice are very beneficial for hair. In fact, applying the gel directly to your scalp makes sure to reduce hair fall and aid in hair growth.
Aloe Vera Gel for Hair Growth
If you have serious hair fall issues, your one-stop solution is aloe vera gel.
AVG and Onion Juice
- Mix aloe juice with similar amounts of onion juice and rosemary essential oil and apply thoroughly on your scalp and areas where hair fall seems to be excessive.
- Wait for half an hour and then wash with homemade shampoo
- Do this once a week for four weeks to see your hair becoming shiny and thickening up.
AGV and Castor Oil
- Add equal amounts of aloe gel with warm castor oil and mix them well.
- Apply on your scalp and massage thoroughly
- wash after half an hour.
Fenugreek Seeds Sprouted in Aloe Vera Leaf
- As I have said above you need to sprout fenugreek seeds in aloe leaf.
- Grind these seeds into a smooth paste and apply thoroughly on your scalp and your hair till end.
- leave for 15 to 20 minutes and wash, you do not need any shampoo because the fenugreek seeds itself is a good cleanser.
Aloe Gel for Getting Rid Of Dandruff
Dandruff basically is a fungal infection and since aloe gel has antimicrobial properties which act on the fungus and gets rid of dandruff.
AVG and Lemon Juice
- You can apply aloe juice directly on your scalp or mix with lemon juice and apply on your scalp.
- Add aloe juice with half
Aloe gel with Coconut Oil
- Add equal amounts of aloe gel and coconut oil and mix well.
- Apply this on your scalp making sure to give a light pressure in a circular motion while applying
Aloe Vera Gel For Hair Conditioning
Aloe is the best natural hair conditioner, you can use it without thinking of the side effects as the chemical conditioners, which result in hair fall. Here is how you should use aloe gel for conditioning your hair
Aloe Gel and Egg
- Add aloe gel with half its amount with egg, you can use egg white alone if you are not comfortable with the odour of yolk.
- Mix them thoroughly and apply to your hair.
- Wash after 15 minutes.
AVG, Honey and lemon juice
- Add aloe gel, honey and lemon juice n equal proportions and apply to your hair.
- wash after 15 to 20 minutes.
6.Boosts Immune System and Has Anti-Cancerous Properties
Research studies say Aloe Vera has effect in preventing the growth of breast and cervical cancerous cells. Aloe Vera gel can help in soothing burns caused by radiation therapy and chemotherapy. It also increases overall body immunity to infections and many diseases.
6.Anti-inflammatory and pain reliever
Aloe Vera gel has anti-inflammatory properties, they are used in traditional medicine in treating arthritis, joint pain and rheumatoid arthritis. They give relief from the pain associated with injury and help in the healing process. They are anti-microbial heals wounds without infection and a best natural antiseptic ointment.
7.In treating canker sores or mouth ulcers
Aloe Vera gel is used in treating mouth ulcers. They are quick in healing mouth ulcers and reduces pain associated with ulcers. The aloe gel has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. The gel from aloe Vera is applied directly on mouth ulcers.
How to prepare and store Aloe Vera gel and leaves?
Aloe Vera gel from homegrown ones is better than commercial store brought brands. Since the plant requires very less care you can easily grow it indoors.
Choose a mature young leaf and remove it from the plant with a knife. Cut open the leaves and scrape the inner gel – your AVG is ready.
The gel must be applied or consumed immediately or on the same day. When stored outside for a long time they tend to oxidize and lose their healing properties.
In case of leftovers, they can be refrigerated and stored in airtight glass containers for several days. It can also be frozen and stored for many months.
They remain to be effective in treating diseases and skin ailments. Aloe leaves can be removed from plants, washed and frozen in Ziploc bags for many months. The leaves can be thawed by leaving out in room temperature.
There are various other methods to store aloe vera gel by mixing crushed aloe vera gel with honey or vitamin C tablets in equal parts. This mixture can be refrigerated or frozen for several months and can be used as a skin moisturizer, face pack or hair shampoo.
What are the side effects of consuming Aloe Vera juice and latex?
Aloe plant has many health benefits, but they do have some negative side effects on humans. Aloe latex has side effects like cramping and diarrhoea.
They are not recommended for patients with colitis, haemorrhoids and ulcers. Consumption of Aloe latex may be toxic for some people.
Aloe Vera juice also may cause diarrhoea and abdominal cramping.
Juice contains an organic plant compound called anthraquinone. This is a laxative compound and may cause stomach sickness on consumption. It is safer to drink purified, organic and decolorized aloe juice.
How to Take Care of Aloe Plant?
Aloe Vera is a low maintenance plant and with excellent medicinal benefits. These are excellent when grown as an outdoor plant but can be grown as houseplant too.
- How to water Aloe plant?
Aloe Vera is a drought-resistant plant and thrives with less water. The succulent waxy leaves stores water and prevent moisture loss by vaporization. These evergreen perennials have long green to light green leaves with serrated edges placed in rosette around the stem base.
Watering Aloe sometimes can be tricky because overwatering can kill the plant. Check the moisture in the soil, when soil is dry then water aloe plants on the edges. Watering the center will harm plant growth causing root to rot.
In the case of indoor-grown plant, water aloe plant as needed but the soil should always be well-drained and dry. Remove water from plant saucer and leave it dry. Excess watering of aloe plant both indoors or outdoors will cause the plant root to rot and die.
During winter and rainy season – no watering or minimal watering is required.
2.How much sunlight is needed?
Aloe Vera is best known to thrive well in dry conditions. Sunlight of 7-8 hours per day is best for the plant, but they do well as indoor plant too.
Place them in the south or south-west regions of the house, so that plant is not deprived of sunlight. Aloe plants indoors generally grow very tall and lanky when deprived of sunlight.
In case when rooms don’t have access to enough sunlight, these plants need artificial lights. These are tropical plants; Aloe Vera loves temperature between 150c to 250c. They do not tolerate snow and frost conditions. When Aloe is growing outdoors, it is good idea to move them indoors in winter months.
3. What type of soil does Aloe Plant need?
Well-drained cacti or succulent soil is best for Aloe Vera. But they grow well in potting soil/garden soil mixed with some sand. This is less expensive and easiest way to grow Aloe Vera.
The soil should be ultimately well drained and aerated. Poor soil drainage will cause water to stagnate and cause root rotting and prevent absorption of nutrients by the plant. Take care to mix some sand or perlite or gravel in the potting soil for proper drainage.
4.What type of container or pots can Aloe grow?
Aloe Vera has a root system which is very shallow and not deep. Their roots spread out horizontally and few inches below ground. Best choice for a pot will be a wider one not very deep about a size of 2’’ to 12’’ in size.
As the plant grows larger it can be repotted to a much bigger pot as needed. It is best when Aloe are planted in terracotta pots or clay pots which has good aeration and drainage. They are best outdoors plant when grown directly on the ground. Care should be taken to prevent water logging and provide plenty of sunlight.
5.How to fertilize Aloe plants?
Aloe Vera don’t require any fertilizers, they have well-developed roots to absorb nutrients from the soil even in unfavourable conditions. These plants can be still be fertilized with organic fertilizer or compost prepared in backyard or from kitchen wastes.
It is better to use organic fertilizer as the gel from the leaves are used in face mask and has medicinal values. When grown as indoor plants using organic compost or fertilizer is a good option as other chemical fertilizer can pollute indoor air or leaves may be ingested by pets. Fertilizing aloe plants can be done twice in a year.
6. How to repot Aloe Vera Plant?
Repotting needs a bigger, porous pots or containers with drainage holes. Terracotta pots are preferred over plastic ones as they are porous and biodegradable. Repotting is usually done when plants outgrow, and roots cannot spread out. The plant struggles to grow further, then plant is transferred to bigger pot with potting soil mixed with sand and gravel.
Repotted plants are not watered immediately but can be kept in sunlight. Watering repotted plants can be done in a week or when new roots begin to grow. Care should be taken not to overwater the plants and water from plant saucer removed.
What diseases and pests affect Aloe?
Diseased Aloe Vera leaves turn brown and wilt away. There are 5 reasons which causes browning in these immortal plants
- Excess Light
When Aloe plants receives less sunlight or too much of sun, they turn brown. Aloe Vera needs plenty of sunlight when outdoors, but when grown indoors they are to be placed in south west directions.
They always need a warm partial light. When indoor grown plants are moved outdoors for sunlight they must left in partial sunlight for a week before moving into full or direct sunlight.
Sudden exposure to sun can cause sunburn or shock in plants. This will turn leaves of aloe plant leaves to turn brown.
Watering Aloe Vera is a very critical step in growing Aloe Vera. When aloe plant leaves develop brown spot, it is due to excess watering. Excess watering causes roots to rot, fungal stem rot and leaves to rot.
In case of excessive watering, do not water plants till the soil dries up. In winter watering is done less frequently, maybe once in four weeks. If the plant looks very dry, wilted and leaves curl up because of water deprivation, then water aloe plants as needed.
Optimal time of watering – For outdoor Aloe Vera watering is done once in two weeks and indoor grown watering is done once in three weeks.
Ideal temperature for Aloe Vera would be 180c to 280c. It cannot withstand temperature dips, frost and snow. In winter months it would be better to move Aloe plants indoors.
The extreme temperature will turn plant leaf brown and begin to wilt. Too much hot and bright sunlight can also kill Aloe Vera by causing sunburns.
Soil for Aloe Vera must be a well-drained soil, with no water stagnation and easy for roots to penetrate and absorb nutrients. These succulents need cacti soil or 3/4th potting soil mixed with 1/4th sand or perlite and gravel. Poor draining soil will cause roots to rot and ultimately leaves turn brown and wilts.
Sometimes Aloe Vera plants turn brown because of over-fertilizing. It can be fertilized once in winter and spring or twice in a year. Excess amount of salt or any nutrients will kill or burn the roots causing leaf browning and wilting.
Aloe Vera when not properly cared will be affected by pests like aphids and mealybugs. They cause leaves to turn sticky because of honey mildew left by the pests on feeding the sap of aloe plants.
The only treatment would be washing the entire plant in warm water or spraying water mixed with organic soap and neem oil. Chemical insecticide cannot be used on indoor-grown ones and ones that are used for medicinal purposes.
How to revive a dying Aloe Vera plant?
The solution to plant rotting will be to repot or replant affected aloe plants in a new container. The affected plant is removed of the old pot with roots intact and mushy rotted roots cut away with scissors.
A new pot of size 1/3rd more than the plant is taken and filled with well-drained soil mix. The plant is now replanted in new pot and left in sunlight. Watering should be done after a week or when new roots are established in the soil.
How long does the plant live?
Aloe Vera has a longevity of 5 to 25 years. A well cared aloe plants can live many decades. A small aloe plant mostly takes 4 years to grow mature leaves of size 10 inches. They have pretty longer longevity when compared to other house plants. There are wild species of Aloe Vera which can live up to 100 years and name ‘immortal aloe’ is the perfect name for these amazing succulents.
How to Grow and Propagate Aloe Vera Plants?
Repotting from Aloe Vera pups or baby Aloe plants is the most common method of propagation. This type of propagation method from aloe pups is also called division. Growing a new plant from just leaf cutting is not a popular method because of too much moisture in leaves.
Because, leaf cuttings do not develop roots and will end up in dried and wilted leaves. A well grown Aloe plant will produce small offsets or plant offshoots or aloe pups growing around the parent plant base.
Take care to remove the pups from parent plant with some roots intact. These Aloe pups share the root system with parent plant, so wait till aloe pups have 3 to 4 leaves of their own, big enough to survive and develop their own roots.
Usually, aloe pups should be 1/5th size of parent plant. Aloe pups are repotted in well-drained soil and wait for one week to water repotted plants.
Quick tips to Care of Aloe Plant
- Aloe Vera needs proper sunlight of 7-8 hours.
- Place in a south-west direction when grown as indoor plants
- Do not water plants excessively, it needs watering three times in a month for outdoor plants and twice in a month for house plants.
- Needs a 200c to 270c temperature.
- Cannot withstand sudden change in temperature or light, need a transition partial lighting before moving into direct sunlight from indoors.
- Cannot withstand frost and snow or cold winter temperature.
- Fertilize only twice a year with organic fertilizer.
- Repot them in terracotta pots for older plants.
- Needs a well-drained and porous soil to plant Aloe Vera.
- When there is symptom of root rot, immediately repot aloe plants and keep the soil well drained.
Nutritional facts about Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is rich in 75 nutrients including vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, anthraquinones, fatty acids. Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin B 12 removes toxins out of the body.
The amino acids are building block for body proteins. They also contain minerals manganese, iron, chlorine, calcium and sodium which are responsible for the functioning of body and enzyme systems. Some vitamins and minerals in aloe are antioxidants in preventing cancer.
Interesting facts about Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera in some culture are believed to bring in more wealth and fortune. In Vaastu shastra aloe plants bring in positive energy inside homes and huge pores on leaves take in more carbon dioxide and release oxygen.
As house plant they stay evergreen throughout the year and make homes more aesthetic and beautiful. They are sure stress busters and improve the quality of air. They are gorgeous and low maintenance house plants.
They grow great in garden, as living room beauty and a plant buddy on kitchen window or office desk.
According to Feng Shui aloe plants are considered lucky and brings in harmony inside homes.
With so many benefits one needs to make sure to plant enough aloe vera plants in the house so that you have a continuous supply of AVG and juice.