What it does… aloe vera
What is it?
A spiky plant, the leaves of which contain a clear gel that can be applied topically to the skin. The dried yellow sap from the leaf base can be diluted into a juice and used as an internal remedy. Aloe vera contains anti-inflammatory salicylic acid, polysaccharides, which promote skin growth and repair, and glycoproteins to reduce pain.
What does it do?
Soothes skin problems: Helps heal and alleviate symptoms of eczema, psoriasis, cuts, burns, grazes and rashes (including heat rashes) and insect bites. It also makes for an ideal cooling after-sun treatment.
Aids digestion: Eases bloating, pain and constipation. It can also help with symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome – a clinical trial in the International Journal of Clinical Practice suggests it’s because of its anti-inflammatory effect.
Reduces cystitis: Symptoms disappeared completely in over half of patients with interstitial cystitis treated at the Urology Wellness Centre, Florida, USA.
Banishes pain in arthritis: A daily dose of fresh juice alleviates pain and inflammation in arthritic joints.
Eases dental problems: Sore gums or mouth ulcers? Rub the gel directly onto affected areas for the anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
When do I need it?
For skin complaints, mouth ulcers and sore gums, and painful arthritic joints, take whenever the problem arises. Take daily if you’re using it as a digestive aid.
How do I get it?
Take it in the juice form for regulation of digestion or arthritic pain: mix it with a spoon of apple cider vinegar and shredded ginger for a great pain-busting remedy. If you find the taste is too bitter, give capsules or tablets a try instead. Apply the gel topically for skin complaints and dental problems – toothpastes and mouthwashes are also available.
Be careful if…
Don’t use aloe vera if you’re taking digoxin or diuretics, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.