There's much more to know about aloe vera, this widely available, inexpensive, animal and earth friendly herb.
Aloe is a succulent plant with clusters of long, bayonet-like leaves that is prickly at the edges and tips. It can produce a woody stem up to 15 meters tall. It has spikes of flowers in various colors, including yellow, orange and red.
The aloe plant has a lengthy history in Africa and the Middle East. Prospero Alpino reported Egyptian women perfumed their genitals with aloe. Aloe was used in remedies to treat fever and plague. The plants grew in Somalia in the times of Alexander’s conquests. In the Bible, aloe is referred to as "ahaloth," and is recorded as a perfumery herb. The Copts used aloe with other ingredients to treat eye disease, swelling and other disorders.
In recent history, people felt they could gain health benefits from orally consuming aloe juice and the gel. Aloe does contain volatile oils and aloins that are very purgative. Because of its purgative quality, it shouldn't be used if you are pregnant or have hemorrhoids. Consumption of aloe in large quantities could prove very painful. As it stands, there is no thorough scientific test to show consuming aloe has health benefits.
The Jamaican people have a great adoration for aloe, which they call "Sinkle Bible." In Jamaica, it is used to cut the sweetness in the blood. It is also used to purify the blood, cleanse the system and calm the nerves.
Aloe Vera Gel Recipe
Today, aloe is mostly used in skin- and hair-care products. Here's an easy way you can make aloe vera gel right at home.
- Purchase a long aloe stalk at the green grocer, botanica or fruitera, or an entire plant from a florist if desired.
- Thank the aloe for sharing her medicine with you.
- Cut off just enough of the leaf as is needed.
- Slit it open using a penknife or sharp kitchen knife.
- Scrape gel into a plastic bag, plate or container.
- Apply to the area to be treated or styled.
Aloe is widely available in health food stores and even in regular drugstores and supermarkets. I recommend purchasing the product pure and organic for your hair, skin and scalp.
Aloe Hair Products
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Stephanie Rose Bird is author of "Four Seasons of Mojo: An Herbal Guide to Natural Living" and group for eclectic practitioners of earth-based spirituality using her books as study guides: