From food, clothing, and a variety of other helpful materials, nature has always provided for people.
One interesting plant that continues to be the gift that keeps on giving is the aloe plant. Many people are familiar with the aloe’s ability to help out with sunburns. However, the succulent leaves offer way more than people know.
Let’s take a look at the hidden uses of aloe vera.
What is Aloe Vera?
The plant is a short-stemmed succulent that can grow up to three feet tall. It is often referred to as the “true aloe” or the “Medicinal aloe” and is a member of the Lily family. The aloe leaves are thick and fleshy with jagged edges.
The plant grows in hot, dry climates and is native to North Africa, Southern Europe, and the Canary Islands.
For centuries, people have used aloe for its medicinal properties, but it has also been found to work for people’s complexion.
What Does the Plant Contain?
This plant is made up of 96% water, some essential minerals, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins A, B, C and E. It also contains zinc.
The plant’s gel has a clear consistency with a slightly sticky texture. It is the main ingredient in aloe-based products and what people use to soothe sunburns and other skin irritations.
The yellow liquid that seeps out of the leaves is called aloin or aloe latex. This part of the plant is used as a laxative.
Common Uses of Aloe
Aloe for Sunburn Treatment
Aloe lotion or gel is commonly used to treat sunburns. As mentioned, the plant contains aloin, a natural pain reliever, and aloesin, which helps to heal the skin.
Upon applying aloe to the affected area, studies have shown that it can reduce inflammation and redness overnight. While it may lessen these symptoms, it is worthwhile to note that they are not outright cures.
To use aloe for sunburn relief, apply the gel directly to the sunburned area. For frequency, it should be placed several times a day upon receiving the sunburn. You can also find aloe products like lotions, gels, and sprays in stores.
Don’ts of Aloe Treatment for Sunburns
- It is important to note that you should not put gel on an open wound. It may cause further irritation or damage to the area.
- If you have blisters from sunburn, leave them alone until they pop on their own and then apply aloe.
- If your skin begins to have an allergic reaction to aloe, stop using it immediately. This often comes about via rashes on the body.
- Finally, if the burn is very severe, it may be best to forgo the aloe care and head to a hospital immediately.
With don’ts out of the way, let’s now learn a little bit more about how to fully utilise this plant for sunburns.
When Should You Apply for Aloe Vera?
You can apply the aloe as soon as you feel the pain from a sunburn. For best results, apply it every few hours. Again, it may be worthwhile to check for open wounds or blisters first before applying it.
How to Use Aloe For Facial Sunburns?
Many people get sunburns on their faces. To use aloe for a sunburned face, apply the gel directly to the skin. While it does work immediately, it works best if applied through several steps that we’ll use in a later segment.
How to Apply Aloe Gel for Facial Sunburns?
- Start by cleaning your face with a gentle cleanser and lukewarm water. Avoid using harsh products or hot water, as this can further irritate your skin.
- Next, take an aloe leaf and cut off a small piece of the gel. You can also use the gel that you have bought from the store.
- Dot the gel onto your sunburned areas.
- Gently massage the gel into your skin in a circular motion until it is fully absorbed.
- Repeat this process as often as needed for pain relief.
How Much Aloe Should You Use?
There is no correct answer to this question. Some people prefer to use a lot of aloe gel, while others only use a small amount. It really depends on what works best for you.
This is really one of the amazing things about this beneficial plant. It can never be over-applied. Using a lot of aloe is not likely to bring around any negative side effects.
Aloe for Skin Care
In addition to being a great sunburn treatment, aloe can also be used for other skin conditions. For example, aloe gel can be used to help treat acne.
The plant’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it an ideal treatment for acne.
To use aloe for acne, apply the gel directly to the affected area. For best results, apply it with a clean cotton bud. This is so potential dirt from the hands does not get into the aloe.
At the same time, it can also be placed overnight.
Aloe for Moisturising
Aloe can also be used as a natural moisturiser. The plant’s gel is filled with nutrients that are good for the skin, such as vitamins A, C, and E just to name a few.
Aloe is very effective as a moisturiser due to the fact that it allows for moisture to stay and stick to the skin. Using aloe will help activate both the collagen and elastin fibres on a person’s skin. This allows for the skin to remain elastic which translates to lesser wrinkles.
Aloe for Hair Care
Finally, aloe can also be used to help treat scalp conditions, such as dandruff and dry scalp.
Again, the plant’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties come in clutch and bestow numerous benefits.
To use aloe for hair care, massage the gel into your scalp after showering. For best results, add some castor oil in order to keep the moisture in.
Leave the mixture for half an hour and rinse it off afterwards.
Hidden Uses of Topical Aloe
The gel from an aloe plant can be used to help heal tattoos. Again, the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties come into play and allow its application to be very beneficial, even for the treatment of fresh tattoos.
When a person gets a fresh tattoo, it is a gaping wound. Tattoo aftercare is very important because the fresh wound is susceptible to infections. The wound will likely also be swollen and irritating.
Furthermore, the care given after a tattoo session will dictate the quality of the tattoo once it is healed up. Some tattoos can come up worse than intended if not cared for well.
There are many types of creams and gels that can be applied, and aloe is one of them.
Thicken and Darken Eyebrows
Another interesting use for aloe is that it can also be used to help thicken and darken eyebrows. This is a fairly new use that has only recently been discovered.
Just like for the scalp, the aloe is mixed with castor oil and applied to the eyebrows.
The aloe gel helps to condition the hair and keeps it healthy. The castor oil, on the other hand, helps to stimulate the growth and thickening of the eyebrow hairs.
This mixture can be applied every day or every other day for the best results. Don’t forget to wash it off after 30 minutes passes.
The result is a set of lush and darker eyebrows.
Another hidden use for this type of plant is as a foot cream. This type of gel can be used as a foot cream. As mentioned above, aloe can best be used for moisturising. This also applies to the feet. The aloe gel can help to soften the rough, dry skin on the feet.
In order to use it as a foot cream, it is best to apply it after a shower. This is because the feet will be more susceptible to absorbing important nutrients and minerals.
Last but not least, aloe can also be used to heal stitches. Stitches are applied to close wounds. Depending on the severity of the wound, some stitches could leave no trace on the body at all. However, they could also leave unsightly scars or marks on the skin.
Just as the aloe plant can be used to great effect for scars, it can similarly be used for the scars these stitches have left.
Hidden Uses of Ingested Aloe
Up to now, we’ve gone over the many benefits of using aloe topically. However, these benefits go much deeper as they can also be ingested for a variety of uses.
As a Mouthwash
The natural antibacterial quality of aloe allows for it to be used as a mouthwash.
Studies have shown that extracts from this plant make a more effective mouthwash than even chemical agents. Furthermore, vitamin C helps to block plaque and can even help out with swollen gums.
In order to use it as a mouthwash, mix 2 tablespoons of aloe gel with 1 cup of water. Gargle this mixture for 30 seconds and spit it out afterwards. Do this every day for the best results.
Controlling Sugar Levels
The aloe plant can also be used to help control sugar levels in the body. Just two tablespoons of aloe juice can decrease sugar levels and help out type 2 diabetes patients.
The plant’s anti-diabetic properties come from a compound found in its leaves called aloin. This substance was found to decrease glucose absorption in the intestines by up to 50%.
With that said though, people with already low blood sugar should take care about drinking this juice.
As a Laxative
Finally, aloe’s final ingested benefit can be seen in the form of a natural laxative. This is due to the fact that it contains anthraquinones which act as stimulant laxatives. These compounds help to stimulate contractions in the intestine and help with bowel movements.
Just be sure not to overdo it as aloin, the same compound that helps with diabetes can also cause cramping and diarrhoea if taken in excess. Start with small doses and increase as needed.
Growing Your Own
Apart from all the benefits, the aloe plant has to offer, another good thing is that it can be grown in a home’s garden. Here is how to make that happen.
How to Grow Aloe?
This type of plant is a type of succulent, so it does not require too much water to grow. In fact, too much water can actually be harmful to the plant.
The best way to water this plant is to wait for the soil to dry out completely before watering it again. Depending on the climate, this could be once a week or even once every two weeks.
When it comes to sunlight, aloe plants need a lot of it. They should be placed in an area where they can get six to eight hours of direct sunlight every day.
If the plant does not get enough sunlight, it will start to stretch out and become leggy.
How to Prepare It for Use?
Once you have grown your own aloe vera plant, you will need to prepare it for use.
The first step is to cut off a leaf from the plant. It is best to use a sharp knife or scissors so that you can get a clean cut.
Next, cut open the leaf length-wise so that you can access the gel inside. Once you have done this, scrape out the gel and store it in a clean container.
The gel can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks, frozen, or left out to reach the desired temperature for use.
A Garden of Benefits – A Conclusion
As you can see, aloe vera is a plant with many benefits. From healing wounds and scars to acting as a natural laxative, this plant can do it all.
Not to mention, it is relatively easy to grow your own aloe vera plant.
Remember that while aloe can be used to treat a variety of things – such as burns – it should be used responsibly with the right first aid practices in mind.
Learn more about it with CPR First Aid’s Liverpool course.