Aloe Vera: The healing plant

Introduction

Houseplants are the plants that add health and beauty to the inside of our house. When we decorate our houses with these houseplants, we not only improve our indoor aesthetics, but also with their presence subconsciously can makes us feel calm and relaxed. Spending a little time with them makes our body, mind and soul to interact in a way that enhance the quality of life. In our series #SacredIndianHerbs the second most important plant that has earned a permanent place in many households is known with the names Ghrit-kumari, Gwarpatha, gheekwar or Aloe vera.

Scientific name: Aloe barbadensis
Hindi name: Ghrit-kumari, Kumari, Gwarpatha, gheekwar
Common names: Indian Aloe, Kumari

Aloe vera is a member of lily family that grows upto 4-5 feet in height. It does not contain stem and leaves are mainly used. Leaves are thick, fleshy and thorny growing directly from roots. It is a plant that has been used historically in various traditional cultures for its medicinal as well as skin care benefits. Here are some readily usages of Aloe vera plant if you have one in your house.

Instant first aid ointment

For a lady having aloe vera in the garden is an immediate remedy for the routine kitchen mishaps such as small cuts or burns. You can apply the pulp part of aloe vera by peeling the leaves on the site to avoid irritation, ulcer or scar. Aloe vera not only stops the bleeding but also protects the wounded or burned spot from infections.

A plant for skin

Aloe vera being a rich source of antioxidants and vitamins helps to protect the skin. Today, cosmetic companies are also commonly adding aloe vera to their products, such as makeup, soaps, shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, sunscreens, shaving cream, etc.

Brown spots / Melasma under the eyes are ubiquitous blots especially in ladies post pregnancy or the generation under stress. Application of aloe vera pulp or oral intake both are beneficial for reducing these hyperpigmentations. For application you can make a paste with turmeric & rose water, and apply on the affected area. For oral intake you can consume 50g of pulp everyday safely. It will help you to treat dark spots, dryness and other blemishes on skin. Applying pulp directly onto the face also makes the skin look young and glowy.

Wrinkles: Due to presence of astringent properties in aloe vera, it is widely used in making anti wrinkle cream. The pulp of aloe vera when stirred and applied on the skin makes the positive effects on collagen metabolism. If wrinkles are already present then aloe vera helps to reduce them.

Enhances skin complexion: To enhance the beauty of face, you can add turmeric to the aloe vera pulp and mix them. The resultant paste can be applied on the skin. It will make your skin fair.

Herbal moisturizer: Aloe vera moisturizes the skin without giving it a greasy feel and hence it is appropriate for anyone with an oily skin complexion. Stir the aloe vera pulp in a liquid form and add ⅛ turmeric powder + 1/16 manjistha powder. Make it in the paste form and apply on the face. Leave for half an hour and wash the face. It will result in glowy and fair skin, act as anti wrinkle and a good moisturizer.

A complementary medicine

Unlike the conventional drugs, which are made to perform some specific actions, aloe vera can do much more. Aloe Vera boosts the immune system by providing many nutrients for preventing and/or fighting infections.

For better digestion and promoting liver functions: Peel the leaves of aloe vera and extract the pulp part. Heat it on low flame for 20 minutes and pour it in a container. Mix citric acid i.e lemon juice in 1/10 proportion or sodium benzoate (as an alternate) in slight quantity. Consume this preparation empty stomach in the morning and after lunch. It will improve your appetite, promote proper functioning of liver and will purify your blood. For diabetic patients, it will purify the blood by bring down the blood sugar levels and will help in reducing skin irritation which is often present in such patients.

Second recipe: Another exhaustive home remedy could be prepared with aloe vera and mixing some readily available kitchen herbs and spices. Take aloe vera pulp and add the aforementioned ingredients in just half the quantity of the previously added ingredient. For example if you take aloe vera 500g then add 250g roasted ajwain, 125g lemon juice, 62g rock salt and lastly roasted 30g hing (roasted in cow ghee preferably). Stir properly to mix it well and then let it dry in sunlight. Store it in the airtight container. Consuming this decoction will prevent you from flatulence, constipation, improves appetite and liver function and also aids in digestion. If you are suffering from loss of appetite then take half tsp of this mixture half an hour before meals. If suffering from constipation then take 1 and half tsp at night with warm water.

For purifying blood: Cook aloe vera pulp in cow’s clarified butter (cow ghee) and consume it daily. It will help to purify the blood and avoid various skin disorders.

For menstrual pain or irregularity: Extract aloe vera pulp and cook it on low flame till it gets thick. You can make tablets and intake it with lukewarm water after the meals. It will help to maintain menstrual cycle and will reduce the pain too.

For diabetes: As diabetic patients are prone to skin infections and various other infections. By consuming daily a glass of a mixture of aloe vera pulp with bitter gourd juice (karela) and black plum juice (jamun) mix in equal quantities, boosts the immunity of the body and helps diabetic person to fight against all the types of infections.

Ringworm / bacterial skin infection: The essential oils present in the aloe vera are antibacterial and antipathogenic. Aloe vera gel can be applied directly and rubbed properly on the affected area to treat any kind of fungal or bacterial skin infection. If applied for regular 3 months, then majorly all skin related issues can be resolved.

Hair care: Dandruff is caused because of numerous factors including dry skin, oily skin, fungal infections, etc. Aloe Vera being antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory helps with all these conditions. Aloe vera paste when applied on hair scalp helps to reduce dandruff. Also, it deeply hydrates the hair shafts acting as a natural conditioner and resulting in soft and smooth hair.

Aloe vera has endless benefits and that is precisely the reason why it has earned a permanent place in our households. We will be back with next sacred herb and its importance. Stay healthy and don't forget to house plant aloe vera to derive maximum benefits from it.

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Dr. Vinod Pr Upadhyay

B.Sc, BAMS, ND (Naturopathy & Yoga), Phd, FES, FIAES | Ayurvedic Pharmaceutics and Pharmacologist | Ex Principal at Himalaya Ayurvedic Medical College | Former Sr. Lecturer at Govt. Ayu. College, Gurukul Kangri

Haridwar

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