Aloe vera is one of the oldest medicinal plants in history, and according to Hindu legend came directly from the Garden of Paradise. For centuries it has been surrounded by folklore about its wide range of benefits and healing powers and known deservedly as the 'holy herb'.
Probably, the best-known use of aloe vera is in the treatment of burns. Its triple action of pain relief and antiseptic and healing qualities makes this remedy suitable for even serious burns and scalds. Aloe vera contains allantoin, protein, minerals, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E and K, and 18 amino acids, all of which give this herb its unique healing properties. You can grow your own aloe vera plants, or purchase the stabilised liquid extract or gel from your health food store.
Various skin conditions, apart from burns, will also respond well to aloe vera gel treatment. Tinea, 'Athlete's foot', and other fungal infections, and infections of the fingers and toenails, should have applications of the gel two to four times daily. Superficial cuts, scratches, abrasions, minor burns, stings and bites will heal with the same treatment.
You can make your own aloe vera first aid lotion, suitable for burns, including sunburn, broken skin, scratches and wounds, by blending together 10 millilitres of glycerine, 12 millilitres of olive oil, 12 millilitres of wheat germ oil, six drops of calendula essential oil, 20 millilitres of aloe vera juice and 45 millilitres of rose water. Store in an airtight, amber-coloured glass bottle.
As a hair preparation, it is unequalled. Use it for greasy scalp conditions, dandruff and as a general hair conditioner, and there will soon be a noticeable improvement. Include a tablespoon or two of the liquid extract in your shampoo or massage it directly into the scalp. The liquid extract can also be used as a mouth rinse, or the gel can be rubbed into the gums, as it is good for bad breath. Alternatively, brush your teeth and gums with the gel once a week.
Aloe vera is easily grown in the home garden and can be purchased, ready to plant out, from most nurseries. However, make sure that the plant you purchase is Aloe barbadenisis, since there are many other varieties that don't have the same healing properties.