aloe, aloe vera, aloe plant, aloe for burns, aloe for healing, healing aloe vera, using aloe vera

5 Ways to Use Aloe for Health and Wellbeing

Just about everyone I know has an aloe plant in their house. Most keep it in the kitchen, as it’s incredibly handy to have close in case of burns or scrapes, but mine is three feet tall and weighs about 60 pounds, so I have it in a massive pot in my living room. Truth be told, this wonderful plant ally is perfect to have in any room in the house, as it helps to purify the air and won’t poison pets or small children who might gnaw on its stalks.

Aloe has been used medicinally for thousands of years, and with good cause! It has many benefits when used both internally and externally, and it’s rare for anyone to be allergic to it. It’s also incredibly easy to cultivate, as it almost thrives on neglect, and will grow and reproduce merrily on its own as long as it gets a fair amount of light and water.

AloeGel

Burns 

I can’t count the number of times I’ve burned myself in the kitchen, whether it was by brushing up against a wire rack while taking something out of the oven, being spattered by cooking oil, or just  being careless and touching a pan without realising it was still hot. Aloe has been a massive plant ally each and every time, and I make sure to thank it whenever I turn to it for help.

Cut aloe stalks into half-inch slices, freeze them on a wax paper-lined baking sheet, and then pop the hardened slices into a bag or plastic container to keep in the freezer. If you burn yourself, just take out one of the slices and rub it on the affected area. The cold will help to alleviate any pain, while aloe’s properties will soothe the burn and speed healing. (The combination of cold + aloe gel can also prevent blisters from forming, depending on the burn’s severity.)

Note: These slices also work well for sunburns, windburns, and chapped lips.

AloeSlice

Overall Oral Health

From reducing gum inflammation and swelling to treating gingivitis, aloe has countless benefits when used as a toothpaste and/or mouthwash. Since aloe has natural antibacterial properties, it can help fend off tooth decay and various types of gum disease, and its soothing properties can alleviate pain and sensitivity from cold sores, cankers, and soreness from denture use.

IBS and Other Intestinal Upset

For many people, a bit of fresh aloe vera juice may calm the gut inflammation caused by IBS, Crohn’s, and Celiac Disease. I have the latter, and I can speak from firsthand experience that when accidentally “glutened”, small amounts of aloe juice have helped with the cramping and overall discomfort that ensued.

Just be careful taking this, as it has laxative effects. When in doubt, talk to your healthcare provider about contraindications and such.

Aloe

Sore, Tired Eyes

If you find that your eyes are tired and achy after long days spent staring at a computer screen, keep a snipped-off aloe branch in the fridge. You can squeeze out a little of the gel and dab it on your eyelids before bed.

You can also use the gel as a very safe, gentle eye makeup remover. It won’t work very well on waterproof mascara, but for regular eyeshadow and eyeliner, it helps to wipe everything away and leaves your skin moisturised and refreshed.

Vaginal Yeast Infections

Gel fresh from the aloe plant soothes the burning, awful itchiness associated with yeast infections. Apparently its antifungal properties also work wonders for inhibiting the growth of Candida, so it might be able to eliminate a yeast infection without needing to resort to store-bought creams or tablets.

The fresh gel can be spread around externally to alleviate inflammation, and suppositories can be created to treat the infection internally. You can mix 1 oz of fresh aloe vera gel with about 8 oz of organic coconut oil. Blend well to make sure it’s a homogenous mixture, then spoon that mixture into an ice cube tray. (Aim for a tray that has small ice cubes, as those are a lot easier/more comfortable to insert.) Once frozen, pop one suppository inside just before bed, and wear a pad. Symptoms should improve significantly within a couple of days.

 

Herbal Chest Salve for Flu Season

By Catherine Winter

I can’t believe it’s the end of November already. So much has happened over the last few weeks that I was shocked to wake up this morning and discover that there’s only a week left before December rolls on in. Winter will arrive in full swing shortly thereafter, and with it will undoubtedly come the colds and flus that inevitably show up as soon as temperatures plummet.

Since I tend to eschew store-bought medicines in favour of those I make myself, I put together a few pots of this chest salve every year. Normally half a dozen people I care about will come down with bronchitis or a nasty head cold, and this rub does wonders to help people breathe. It also does wonders for asthma attacks, and I’ve even been known to massage it into my temples and forehead to ease migraines.

When it comes to making homemade salves, it’s important to use the highest quality ingredients you can afford. Much like how food nourishes your body, medicines that are meant to heal you on a cellular level should be as nurturing as possible.

eucalyptusoil

Chest Salve for Coughs, Colds, and Flus

I base my salve on a recipe in one of Rosemary Gladstar’s books, but have tweaked it as I’ve determined what works best for me. You may wish to make a few versions of it with different essential oil (EO) proportions, and see which you like best. These oils in particular have wonderful decongestant and antiviral properties, and also help you smell pretty fabulous when you’re feeling sickly and gross.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 heaping tablespoon beeswax pellets (you can use carnauba wax if you’d like to make yours vegan)
  • 12-15 drops eucalyptus EO
  • 10-12 drops pine EO
  • 8-10 drops camphor EO (use fewer drops if making this for children)
  • 5-7 drops peppermint EO
  • 5 drops rosemary EO
  • 2 drops wintergreen EO*(if this is for kids, eliminate wintergreenand increase peppermint – see the note at the end of this article)
  • A small, clean jar to pour it into (I use the 50ml amber glass jars from Mountain Rose Herbs for my salves, but mini jam jars can also be used in a pinch

salves

Preparation:

Heat your olive oil on very low heat in a small glass, ceramic, or enameled saucepan. You can also use a double-boiler method for this, as long as you’re careful not to let any water get into the oil mixture.

Once the oil has warmed, add in the beeswax pellets and use a small whisk or spoon to stir them around thoroughly. When they’re just about melted completely, remove the saucepan from the heat and keep stirring to ensure a homogeneous mixture.

Let this cool for just a minute or two before adding in the essential oils. Stir constantly as you mix them so they’re distributed evenly, then pour the mixture into your jar. You may need a spatula to scrape down the inside of the pot if it has cooled enough that the salve has started to congeal around the edges.

Close the jar’s lid and either set aside in a cool place to set, or place it right in the fridge. It’ll firm up a fair bit once cooled, but still be fluid enough that it will spread easily if you dip a finger into it. Take note of the texture: if you find it too squidgy, add more wax to your next batch, or add less wax if you find it a bit too firm.

Keeping it refrigerated doesn’t just extend its shelf life: it’s incredibly soothing to slather on a cool balm when you have a sore throat or if you’re sore and feverish. This salve works wonders to ease coughs and breathing difficulties when rubbed into one’s chest and upper back, and it’s great on the outer nostrils and across the forehead for sinus colds.

making_salve

*Note:  wintergreen oil is very powerful, and can be toxic in even moderate doses: if you choose to use this oil in your salve, be very sparing with it, and use it with care. Don’t add this oil to the salve if you’re planning to use it on childreneither omit it entirely, or use a couple of extra drops of peppermint or even a bit of lavender instead.

 

Photos by the author, and Flickr creative commons.