‘Allo Aloe Vera!
If you don’t have one of these beauties at home already, get your running shoes on and sprint to the nearest flower shop. GO! Seriously though, it’s worth making friends with Aloe barbabenis, one of nature’s truly wondrous gifts. They offer us so much in terms of health and beauty, and they look pretty funky too. Growing an aloe vera plant at home is very easy as they don’t require that much care. They need sun, not direct sunlight though and infrequent watering. They may be low maintenance but they still need a lot of love, especially when you cut off one of their elixir filled branches (it’s polite to say ‘thank you’). I must admit that I feel immensely grateful and a tad guilty when I cut a piece of my plant off, knowing that it is for purely selfish reasons. But I’m sure my aloe loves to share the gifts nature bestowed it with. Sharing is caring after all. To use: 1. Cut part of a branch off (not too much, it contains a lot of gel and a little really does go a long way). 2. Carefully slice the spiky bits off the sides (think minimal try to keep the rest as intact as possible). 3. Either squeeze some gel out or slice up the middle, width ways, not length ways, so that you can separate the branch into two. If you’ve cut too much, store it in the fridge and it will last until the next day, if not longer. To get more of the gel out simply dig your nails into it and a ton more gel will come out of Aloe storage . Aloe Vera has been used for centuries for its wonderful healing qualities, soothing an array of symptoms from skin irritations to digestive issues. Here are some common household uses of aloe vera – in each case, just apply directly to the affected area – note: allergy or intolerance to aloe vera is very rare but does happen:
- Burns – it’s the perfect skin healing after sun. You will feel the cooling gel soothe as it efficiently repairs your skin.
- Cuts – heal super fast. Just keep re-applying at least twice a day. Don’t be afraid, it’s the best thing for it.
- Grazes – watch these heal without leaving scars if you apply the gel diligently ever day.
- Eczema/psoriasis/insect bites/other skin complaints. Let aloe’s anti-inflammatory properties go to work.
- IBS, constipation, heartburn and other digestive issues – the healing gel regulates our gut orchestra to help keep things running smoothly. Scoop the gel out and pop it in a smoothie, or take it as a jelly shot (minus the alcohol of course).
Our ancestors were well aware of aloe vera’s virtues as a beauty product. Apparently Cleopatra used it on her skin to keep her youthful looks. She was onto something – these days you can find aloe vera in a many beauty products from toothpaste to face cream although the purest way is simply to apply it directly onto your skin from the plant itself. I’ve tried it and it definitely gives your skin a tightening lift (actually, Dom tried it out first as we were using it on a cut and he didn’t know what to do with the rest of it. So, not wanting to waste it, he put it all over his face. He wasn’t going to tell me but I guess he hadn’t reckoned on being all shiny when he walked into the living room). Our friend Aloe barbabenis is also an air purifier. This means that it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases life sustaining oxygen back into our stale air. And it doesn’t stop there, tests have also shown that it is efficient at removing formaldehyde from our internal home environment. Now, you must excuse me, I’m off to whisper sweet nothings to my Aloe barbabenis to help it grow.