Family Name: Liliaceae
Aloe is a member of the lily family, and one that hails from dry parts of the world. The plant stores the limited rain water it gets in its succulent leaves, in the form of a gel. Long ago humans figured out that the jelly like contents of the aloe leaf could be used to heal the skin, and heal it really fast. Whether from abrasion or sun, aloe gel applied regularly acted as a healing balm. This was true in the biblical day and its true today.
Notes from the Eclectic Physicians
Part Used: gel from leaves
Remember This: Skin Healer
Reasonable Uses: sunburn, kitchen burns, minor wounds, slow healing wounds, eczema, psoriasis, acne, acne rosacea, lupus, poor complexion.
History and Traditional Uses
The spiky, spiny aloe plant was used by ancient Egyptian medics to keep the skin of the living healthy and by Egyptian morticians to make the skin of the dead last forever! You can see mummies in museums around the world so you know the Egyptians knew what they were doing. Throughout its native Africa, aloe was the treatment of choice for all sorts of wounds including those from poisoned arrows. Today, aloe is one of the most widely used herbs for skin problems found in a dizzying array of cosmetics and hair-care and first-aid products.
Scientific Back Up
Aloe gel reduces skin inflammation and speeds skin healing. The transparent gel that oozes out of a broken aloe leaf is an effective first-aid treatment for skin irritations, cuts, and minor burns. Studies show that it enhances wound healing and promotes cell growth and wound closer. Other studies point to aloe’s potential as a treatment for psoriasis, eczema, and skin ulcers. Some researchers feel that it can actually undo the damage the sun does to the skin. Researchers in the know say, when the skin needs healing, apply for aloe.
Herbalists use it to…
Conquer Chronic Skin Disease
Chronic skin diseases like eczema, psoriasis, acne, and acne rosacea all involve inflammation. Aloe, with its well established anti-inflammatory activity, can take the red out of an outbreak. When used regularly, herbalists say it can keep outbreaks from occurring.
Soothe Kitchen Burns
Herbalists top recommendation for burns? Plain, raw Aloe vera gel or something as close to that as possible. Its powerful anti-inflammatory activity takes the pain causing inflammation out of a burn and speeds the healing process along nicely. Herbalists say scaring is reduced when aloe is used throughout the entire healing process.
Wind Up Wound Healing
As long as the skin is broken, the body is open to bacterial invasion. In an age when antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria are causing nasty infections, speedy wound closure is important! Herbalists feel that aloe speeds the bodies sealing up process!
Heal Skin Ulcers
Skin ulcers, especially on the lower limbs, can be hard to heal. Aloe has been shown to increase the production of the cells responsible for bridging the gap in an ulcer. Herbalists recommend the application of aloe gel in hard to heal ulcers.
Undo Sun Damage
There is an undeclared epidemic of skin cancer raging at the moment. The sun, formerly a source of health, is now a source of misery. Herbalists feel there is strong evidence that aloe can undo the damage the sun does to the skin. Whenever possible avoid the sun. But, when exposed to the sun, use Aloe to repair sun damage.
If you have a plant growing on the window sill, you can skip the shopping! Cut off a lower leaf and remove any spines, then split the leaf in half and scrape the gel that oozes out directly onto the affected part. If you do not have a plant to hand, the next best thing is pure aloe gel available from the health food shop
Only buy pure aloe gel. Most commercial “aloe” products(creams, moisturizers, shampoos, etc.) do not contain enough aloe to make them medicinally active. Stick to a jar of pure aloe gel. Avoid products that contain other herbs. Avoid products that are bright green; aloe gel is not green!
If the skin being treated becomes red, tender, swollen, and hot, see your health care practitioner.
Do not apply aloe gel to surgical wounds until they are entirely healed, it could delay healing.
Skins ulcers can be cancerous. Any wound that stays open for more than a month should be checked by a dermatologist.
Calendula, Chamomile, Marshmallow
Notes from the Eclectic Physicians
1874: J.M. Scudder
The use of Aloes in medicine should be quite limited, but still it has a place. I believe that in small quantity and in combination with other agents that act upon the upper intestinal canal, it proves a good cathartic, as in the following: R Podophyllin, grs. x.; Leptandrin, grs. xxx.; Aloes, grs. xx.; Extract of Hyoscyamus, 3ss. Make thirty pills. One of them at night will prove an excellent laxative, and those who employ cathartics freely with like the formula.
But it is not for this purpose that I would recommend Aloes, but for one that many seem very singular. In small doses it exerts a direct influence upon the waster and nutrition of the nervous system. In cases of feeble innervation, especially in persons of gross habit, it will be one of our best agents. I have usually prescribed it with Tincture of Nux Vomica or with Tincture of Belladonna. The dose of a strong tincture being from two to ten drops.
In some cases it will provide serviceable when associated with the bitter tonics, as in this: Rx: Extract of Nux Vomica, grs. vj.; Aloes, grs. xv.; Hydrastine, 3ss. Make thirty pills. One may be given three or four times a day.