Aloe, It's Benefits and Other Interesting Stuff You Always Wanted To Know
Originally published in September, 1995.
Aloe vera as it is commonly known, is a succulent plant with amazing healing properties. In botanical Latin aloe vera is known as Aloe barbadensis. Aloe being the genus and barbadensis being the species. Aloe barbadensis is named after the place where the plant was first documented, Barbados.
Aloes are grown very easily at home, but most home gardeners do not know what is required to take care of this succulent.
When growing aloes, we must realize they have two basic seasons, wet or dry. The wet season goes from about April to October. During this time, your aloe should be given water especially during hot weather. From October to March, aloes require little watering. In fact, aloes can go from October to March without a drop of moisture and be no worse for wear, although watering once at about Christmas time is okay.
People become concerned about not watering from October to March; however, as a home gardener we must try and mimic Mother Nature's own watering schedule. Aloes are 97% moisture and from October to March, the plant relies on the water reservoir in its leaves for moisture. Expect some leaves to dry and shrivel during this time. Come April when the plant receives its first good watering, the succulent aloe will rejuvenate and begin growing quite happily again.
One of the most interesting aspects of aloe vera is its ability to heal sunburns when the leaves are opened and the gel exposed to the skin. However, it's ironic that aloes themselves do not survive well in direct sunlight. Aloes will get sun burnt. Aloes are naturally found behind rocks and other items that provide partial shade. When growing your aloe, keep it in a sunny, but partially shaded area.
For those that grow aloe for its beneficial healing properties which include problems like eczema, burns, cuts, sores, liver spots, along with much more, you must remember that only mature aloes have healing properties. It usually takes an aloe vera plant anywhere from 3 to 5 years to fully mature. Mature aloes are easily identified from immature aloes by looking at the leaves. If the leaves are painted with white spots, the aloe is still immature.
When an aloe plant is fully mature the leaves are a solid dark green. To ensure your aloe matures as soon as possible, be sure to water them as they would naturally be watered in the wild. Furthermore, remove any suckers that begin to sprout next to the main aloe.
Removing suckers allows the main aloe to put all of its energy into growing for itself. You can either compost the suckers, replant them in another pot, or give them to a friend.
For those who wish to use the gel of a mature aloe for topical use, be sure to remove the thin yellow layer next to the gel. This yellow layer can cause a red stain that is extremely hard to remove.
Many people use prepared aloe vera juice in their companion's diet (and for themselves too), but why use prepared aloe juice over homemade?
To begin with, there are a few advantages of using an aloe juice over the use of an actual aloe plant. The biggest reason is that once an aloe plant is opened and the gel exposed to oxygen, rapid oxidation begins. Within hours the gel goes rancid (even if refrigerated).
Aloe juice needs to be stabilized with preservatives. One of the preservatives used is vitamin C (citric acid). In many cases potassium sorbate is also used and so is benzoic acid (otherwise know as sodium benzoate).
However, it is important to note that benzoic acid is a known toxin to cats and should be avoided. So buy an aloe juice or gel without this ingredient.
Obviously another benefit of using a prepared aloe juice is we don't have to do any work. Furthermore, if you have ever used an aloe leaf on your skin, you've probably noticed that your skin is sticky after applying the leaf. This is because the juice or the medicinal properties were not able to break free of the fibers of the plant, thus keeping the medicinal properties on the skin's surface.
To separate fibers from the juice, high heat is needed for a few seconds. This does kill some of the natural enzymes in the juice; nonetheless, most of the enzymes remain, but more importantly the body can now use the medicinal properties quite easily both internally and externally.
A simple way to determine the quality of an aloe vera juice is to take a few drops and put it on the back of your hand. If you notice that within minutes it is completely absorbed and the area is now soft and smooth with no residue, then that means the quality is good and the aloe will be more likely absorbed by the body both internally and/or externally. The faster the absorption by your hand, the higher the grade.
When buying aloe juice, remember to avoid cold processed aloe juice and aloe juice preserved with benzoic acid (sodium benzoate).
But what exactly does aloe do for the body and why should it be used?
Well, as most people are aware, the processing of food removes many vital parts of the food and the delicate enzymes which are so important to good health are destroyed.
Enzymes essentially help the body break down the food and help with the chemical processes of food in the body's system. An enzyme starved diet can be a chief cause of poor health and premature aging.
Cells and tissues require constant nourishment and aloe vera juice aids by assisting in the assimilation of foods, vitamins, and nutrients, thus giving you more health for your money.
Aloe vera juice is naturally rich in:
- Vitamin C which helps maintain tone of blood vessels and promotes good circulation.
- Vitamin C is essential to the health of the adrenal gland which supports our body in times of stress
- Amino acids which are chains of atoms constructing protein in our body.
- Enzymes which are the life-principle in every live, organic atom and molecule of natural raw food and in constitution of any living animal. Enzymes rejuvenate aged tissues and promote healthy skin.
- Germanium which is a mineral whose function is controversial; however, some health authorities claim therapeutic benefits for: immunodeficiency, pain, cardiac disorders, circulatory disturbances and eye problems.
Aloe vera juice is one of the finest body cleansers and brings most gratifying results. It cleans the morbid matter from the stomach, liver, kidneys, spleen, bladder, and it's the finest colon cleanser known. In turn, this process purifies the blood.
It is healing and soothing in the relief of indigestion, stomach distress and ulcers. Others claim relief from arthritis, bladder and kidney infections; leg cramps, constipation, hemorrhoids, insomnia, and for vaginitis, it is an excellent vaginal douche.
An excellent internal tonic for energy and well being, you'll find it convenient and beneficial to use aloe juice in your companion's daily diet.
Aloe juice will add greatly to the strength of the food fed, digestive tract, skin, and overall good health and happiness of your companion. Aloe juice is a basic supplement that should always be used.
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