Aloe Vera: A Self-Regenerating First-Aid Kit

Exploring the Benefits of Aloe Vera

November 19, 2018
Aloe Vera Plant - Thinkstock
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Among the easiest-to-grow houseplants, aloe vera will decorate a kitchen shelf with quiet grace while doing double duty as a self-regenerating first-aid kit.

A native of southern Africa, aloe vera has fleshy leaves containing numerous plant compounds with antimicrobial, pain-reducing, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Used medicinally for at least 6,000 years, the succulent plant spread throughout the world to become important in the traditional medicine of ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece, Persia, and India, and throughout Asia and Africa. The Spanish introduced aloe vera to South America and the Caribbean.

Everyday Health Uses for Aloe Vera

Scientific evidence supports using the jellylike substance inside aloe vera leaves for alleviating pain and helping to heal everyday burns, abrasions, bruises, boils, canker sores, and other mouth sores. It may also alleviate symptoms of minor frostbite, herpes (both cold sores and shingles), hemorrhoids, psoriasis, and acne.

Some folks use aloe vera gel for dental hygiene. Many people use it to treat dandruff and as a general hair conditioner.

Although aloe is under investigation for use in diabetes, lowering LDL cholesterol, many digestive system disorders, and some cancers, health experts warn people not to take any fresh or processed aloe product internally, by mouth or injection, unless under the direct care of a doctor.

Recent research has shown that aloe doesn’t heal deep surgical wounds or radiation burns or prevent sunburn (though it will soothe a summer burn).

Warning: Many sources of information about this plant mention aloe vera’s value as a laxative. Its harsh laxative effect doesn’t come from the aloe gel, but from the “latex” or “juice” derived from the cells just under the outer skin of the leaves. In 2002, the FDA ruled that it could no longer be sold as an over-the-counter laxative.

Using the Fresh Aloe Leaf

Hundreds of aloe-containing products have flooded the market, but using the leaf is the freshest, least expensive way to take advantage of aloe’s everyday healing properties.

Simply remove one of the swordlike leaves from a living plant and slice it open along its length. Then either squeeze out the gelatinous material and apply it to the affected part or lay the entire opened leaf side directly over the affected part and bandage it lightly in place. 

Applied topically, aloe vera gel has no serious side effects, although a few people experience allergic skin reactions to it. Try a small amount on a patch of skin; if you notice a rash, swelling, or itching, discontinue use.

Credit: Kerdkanno Shutterstock

Aloe for Hair and Skin

Among the most common ingredients in commercial hair- and skin-conditioning products, fresh aloe vera gel works well as a homemade beauty aid.

Scrape it out of the leaves and use it as a hair gel or instead of your usual conditioner. Note: Aloe vera gel is thin and watery. It makes a great conditioning agent, but won’t work as a thickener or styling agent. And don’t rely on aloe to prevent hair loss or regrow lost hair.

To use it as a skin moisturizer and toner, just scoop out the gel or rub a freshly cut leaf over your face and let it dry.

Credit: Wavebreak Media/Shutterstock

Don’t Overwater Aloe

thinkstock_aloe_half_width.jpgAloe vera will thrive outdoors only in the frost-free regions of the U.S. But even the most horticulturallychallenged can’t fail with Aloe vera as a houseplant.

Once you have one, pretty much the only way to kill it is by overwatering. The plants reproduce enthusiastically by sending out new shoots from their roots, called “pups,” which you can pull up and replant.

If you know anyone with a thriving Aloe vera plant, he or she will probably be glad to pull one out for you. Plant it in good potting soil (one made for cactus is ideal), set it in a sunny spot and watch it grow.

Aloe’s Use in Agriculture

The gel is such a safe and effective anti-fungal agent that agricultural scientists have begun experimenting with use of aloe vera extracts as natural fungicides to protect growing crops. They’ve also found that spraying Aloe vera extracts onto various kinds of ripe fruit helps protect and extend its shelf life. 

Photo: Thinkstock

About This Blog

"Living Naturally" is all about living a naturally healthy lifestyle. Margaret Boyles covers health tips, ways to avoid illness, natural remedies, food that's good for body and soul, recipes for homemade beauty products, ideas to make your home a healthy and safe haven, and the latest news on health. Our goal is also to encourage self-sufficiency, whether it's relearning some age-old skills or getting informed on modern improvements that help us live better, healthier lives.

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Aloe vera for burns

Some years ago, just after learning that Aloe was good for burns (and was referred to as the miracle plant by the ancient Greeks) I got what my mother who was an RN called a small third degree burn on the inside of my wrist from my metal watch band shorting a car battery to ground. The watch band got orange hot. The pain was considerable, but when I experimentally applied the juise from a freshly cut aloe leaf directly to the raw surface of the burn, the pain stopped instantly and completely. A skin formed over the liquid on the surface of the burn in a couple of minutes and lasted for about two hours at which point the pain started returning. I applied more aloe juice and the process repeated—no pain. I repeated this at two hour intervals for the next 3 or 4 days by which time not only had the burn mostly healed, but had done so without leaving a scab of any kind— the area looked almost as though the burn had not happened.
My mother, a competent and experienced nurse, said she had never seen a third degree burn heal anywhere near as fast or well as this. Since then I have always kept aloe vera in the house for burns, cuts and skin afflictions of any kind.

saving aloe vera plant

My aloe plant is large and grew sideways and is top heavy. The roots are being pulled out of the ground and I'm afraid the whole plant is going to eventually die but it is very healthy right now. Should I try to replant in a larger pot and use some sort of support for the part that is hanging sideways? Any suggestion would be appreciated. Thank you.

Aloe plant

I just looked at my plant ant unfortunately all of the stems came out separately. Not sure what I did, the dirt was dry, but I was careful to not over water, the main stem has a baby, but I have two larger stems. Can I just root to?


I suggest rooting either one of the larger stems, or pulling and rooting the “baby.”

Aloe Also Cuts Out Painful Leg Spams

I had painful leg spams at night and during long periods of sitting years for over 20 years.The only thing that has ever actually stopped them is aloe. One reason it may help is that it aloe is an-anti inflammatory. Ironically; though, aloe is not normally discussed as a natural treatment for leg cramps or spams even though many commercial muscle ointments do have aloe in them.

Can the aloe gel inside the

Can the aloe gel inside the leaf be combined with oils such as argan, jojoba, grapeseed, coconut, and rosemary oils? I like to moisturize my skin with these oils, and was wondering if these can be combined without chemically interfering with each others composition. (I think it would be totally fine, but I'm not sure)

I’ve never tried mixing aloe

I’ve never tried mixing aloe vera gel with oils for any purpose, David, and I can’t find any scientific studies discussing the combination, but I’ve seen personal-care products with labels that say they contain  both.

If you do try a mixture, I’d suggest dabbing a bit on a very small patch of skin and waiting a day to make sure you don’t have any skin reaction, e.g. irritation, rash, itchiness, sun sensitivity.


My Aloe Plant: Help!

My aloe plant is growing nicely however it's starting to lean over sideways and need support. My question is; what do I do about this do I cut the stem, And repot both? Help please. Thank you

I’ve used wooden chopsticks

I’ve used wooden chopsticks or small twigs to prop mine up, Chanel. Make sure your pot and soil are deep enough to accommodate the size of the plant you want. Also, make sure it’s getting enough light to prevent the stems from growing “leggy” and scrawny as they stretch to find enough light.

Splitting aloe

I have an aloe houseplant that is tall & skinny,can I pull off leaves & put them in starter mix to start another plant? I seem to remember my aunt doing this.


Yes, but it's tricky!

Aloe leaves are so full of gel, that they typically rot before they take root, Deb. You could try slicing one off with a clean, sharp knife, letting it sit in a warm, dark spot until a film forms over the cut end, then planting the cut edge a couple if inches deep in moist potting soil and see it if roots.

A better option is planting one of the tiny “pups,” or root offshoots that usually form in abundance around the base of an established aloe vera. Choose an offshoot three of four inches high with four or five leaves, slice around it with a sharp paring knife and pull it out gently. You’ll see it has its own roots.

Fill a new pot with potting soil (making sure to add gravel or small stones at the bottom of the pot for drainage. Make a well a couple of inches deep in the center of the pot, set the little plant into it, and firm the soil up around it.

Aloe Vera plant tall and skinny.

Your plant seems sick to me. Aloe Vera need sun and hot weather and watering once every 3 - 4weeks. make sure your soil drains very rapidly

Shaving gel

I use aloe vera gel for shaving. It lubricates, helps heal nicks quickly, and just feels really great! Since I also shave my head (mostly bald these days), it really does the job. No shaving cream or similar product comes close.

Awesome houseplant, thriving

Awesome houseplant, thriving beautifully unless you have a curious cat. To which it will destroy the plant and the plant very toxic to it.

WOW I guess I must have over

WOW I guess I must have over watered mine, but I did manage to save a leaf or two. I put them in a zipper bag and in the fridge for future use. Thank you, now I know what I did wrong.

Aloe Vera is a very good

Aloe Vera is a very good plant to use for burns. But here at my house I use honey. I use it for burns, cuts, scrapes,and blisters. I use honey on sunburns as well I have found it works really well. Thank you


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