Aloe Vera

Aloe-VeraHQ-Blog-1024x682WHEN I was about 10 years old I discovered that cute spiky succulent looking plants called Lidah Buaya (Aloe Vera) by locals and love to scoop the jelly out and spread them all over my head.

I did it often as and when I felt like it because I found plenty of them around my mom’s garden. I was told that the gel would help thicken our hair. Possibly, but I was doing it for fun, being so young then.

And a few months ago I have a close encounter with this unique plants reputed to have healing properties.  Adam suffered horrible sunburn after taking part in a convoy of bikers for a day trip to Johor Baru. Being stubborn, he refused to wear outer jacket or any long sleeves to cover his skin. The result: burnt skin and in pain.

For some reason I totally forgot to cut some fresh Aloe Vera plants in mom’s garden. Instead, I grabbed my Banana Boat Aloe Vera Gel to sooth his burning skin. Applying it morning and evening, the pain subsided after two days. But the dark skin stay for a week or so and I remember how my boy was freaking out worrying that he would have two skin tones on his arms…Lol

And about two months ago I was having horrible spell of hair fall. I was horrified every time I comb my hair to see how much hair I was losing daily.

aloeThen I remember my childhood habit. Aloe Vera to the rescue! I decided to cut about four big leaves and skin the jelly out and slathered them onto my head while massaging it thoroughly. Decided to leave it there for 15 minutes even though I didn’t really fancy the smell. Yes the smell is one thing that turn me off slightly.

And a week ago, a dear friend told me that he has been taking Aloe Vera juice for a week or so to replace his cranberry (juice) which won’t be available for the next couple of weeks. And guess what? He notices that his skin is visibly smoother and glowing. For someone who really takes care and watches his diets, he also feels less toxic in his body since taking the juice less than two weeks ago.

According to Wikipedia, Aloe Vera is one of about 250 species of Aloes. The Aloes are members of the Lily family (Liliaceae) and, therefore, are relatives of such common plants as tulips, Easter lilies, and asparagus. Aloe vera is believed to be native to the Mediterranean, but its exact native habitat is unknown. In the Old World the aloes have had a long history of economic use, and this species in particular has been carried around by people for so long that its original habitat has been lost in history. In fact, some taxonomists believe that Aloe vera is not even a naturally developed species, but instead some ancient hybrid. This may, in part, account for the use of two scientific names for the species.

Interest in the sap of this species extends back over 2000 years. It is bitter, slimy, and can be collected as an exudate from cut leaves or squeezed from the pulp of leaves. Leaves from all aloes have long been credited with healing properties, but the especially succulent Aloe vera is valued most.

Aloe Drink

Aloe Drink

In the past, leaves were sliced and laid on the skin to relieve itching and to heal burns. Today it is claimed to work effectively on sunburns, minor burns, wrinkles, insect bites, skin irritations, cuts and scratches.

A “tea” made from the dried sap of this species is said to make a good wash for wounds and the eyes. Interest in Aloe vera’s healing properties has revived in recent decades in respect to its use as a treatment for radioactive burns. Today’s consumer may be familiar with Aloe vera because extracts of its sap are found in many hand lotions and other skin care products.

The “aloe” of medicine is actually the compound aloin that is extracted from the sap of Aloe vera. The major source of the raw sap today is the Netherlands Antilles, the true aloe having been introduced there several hundred years ago. Aloin is still used as a cathartic (strong laxative) in various preparations. The cathartic properties of even the raw sap have been documented for centuries. Historically, physicians commonly prescribed aloe sap for “cleansing the body” of a variety of “toxins”. Applied to an infant’s thumb, it was a sure way to stop thumb-sucking.

Aloe vera makes a sturdy, long-lived houseplant as long as it is given plenty of sunlight and is not over-watered. Many home gardeners grow it on a windowsill so the sap is readily available. Just like my mom’s garden…Aloe Vera is readily available. A