Aloe Vera (aloe barbadensis) has been used since ancient times as a medicinal plant and they are quite prolific in our garden’s at the moment.
I’ve been using it lately as a digestive tonic, a small amount (about a pea size) of clean, clear gel (from a piece of fresh aloe leaf) scooped into a glass of filtered water and blended, add a squeeze of lemon if you wish. Taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach aloe vera promotes the absorption and assimilation of nutrients through the digestive tract, stabilises blood sugars and is a rejeuvenative tonic for the liver, spleen and intestines. The taste takes some getting used to (and I make sure it’s ‘quick down the hatch,’) but as I drink it I think of all the fabulous health-giving benefits my body reaps.
As a gentle laxative it works by softening the stool whilst minimising dehydration of the large intestine (as opposed to senna and cascara segrada, commonly used in herbal laxative formulas.)
Aloe Vera is however best known for external use on burns, cuts and wounds as it activates macrophages, the immune cells that fight bacterial infection. It’s also extremely effective for herpes, dermatitis and psoriasis. Clinical studies have confirmed that burns and cuts treated with pure aloe vera gel heal up to three days faster than with unmedicated dressings. It is a fantastic cooling treatment for excess sun exposure.
If you’re keen to try Aloe Vera, be sure it is that from a fresh clean Aloe barbadensis plant. Try a skin patch test first. Long term internal use is not recommended, (ie beyond two weeks,) and should not be combined with diuretic medication, please check with your primary healthcare provider. Aloe Vera should not be taken internally during pregnancy.
Refs; Herbs and Natural Supplements L Braun and M Cohen. Prescription for Herbal Healing PA Balch.
Jan van der Lee is a Clinical Nutritionist based at Waipu Natural Health; www.waipunaturalhealth.co.nz call 094321325