Discovering the Magic of Aloe Vera

Aloe vera cactus plants

Aloe vera

We are settling into our new home and discovering the wonders of living close to nature. Something which would be lacking in a city, where urban dwellers aiming to lead a greener lifestyle end up paying much more for a product and are often left with quality that’s not up to the mark.

Maybe there is a chance to escape part of this system with the help of the divine cactus, Aloe Vera. You would have heard of Aloe Vera, often used in shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, medicines, toothpaste and much more.

Recently we tried using the juice of the plant to apply on the skin as a moisturizer. Bhavika being a little skeptical wanted to do a little research before using it, thanks to her we stumbled upon the umpteen reasons to use this divine cactus.

cutting an aloe leaf

Cutting an aloe leaf

The juice acts like a natural moisturizer on the body, when applied on the hair it stops irritation of the scalp, reduces hair fall, and makes the hair soft and shiny. It also has a cooling effect on the body, this were few benefits we discovered after using Aloe Vera.

We now plan on testing if Aloe works as a sun screen as well, Bhavika has really sensitive skin so she is the guinea pig for now. :)

You can get a good quantity of Aloe juice from a big fat leaf, we took a couple of pictures of the steps involved in extracting Aloe juice.

Yellow latex secretion that is an irritant

Yellow latex secretion that is an irritant

Firstly you need to get an Aloe plant, and yes they can grow in pots as well so its easy to have one anywhere. When you cut out a leaf, you notice a yellow latex or sap oozing out of it, this is not suppose to be used as its an irritant.

So you basically hang the leaf or keep it in a tilted position until the oozing stops. Once thats done you can slice off the thorny sides of the leaves.

cutting the thorny aloe side

Cutting the thorny aloe side

Then slice off the flat side of the leaf with a knife, you will see good amount of juice beginning to drip out when you do that. You can then scoop out the inside gel with either a spoon or slice out as much as you can with a knife.

The first time we extracted aloe juice we directly put the gel in a muslin cloth and squeezed it, we collected a good amount of gel and juice. By blending the gel and then using a muslin cloth you get a lot more juice with very little gel remaining.

Thornless Aloe vera leaf

Thornless Aloe vera leaf

We managed to get a little more than 400 ml of the divine cactus juice from 5 medium sized aloe leaves. If you don’t want to extract you can simply cut off a leaf, drain out the yellow sap and apply it directly on your skin.

Extracting aloe vera gel

Extracting aloe vera gel

Aloe has been used for over 500 years

Aloe Vera is known as Ghrit Kumari in Sanskrit and has been used in Ancient Indian Ayurveda. Its use as a healing agent goes back thousands of years, for the Egyptians its the ‘plant of immortality’ and supposedly placed as a burial gift in tombs of the pharaohs. Strange that a plant with so many qualities has not made its way into all our homes a long time ago.

Extracting aloe vera gel

Aloe vera gel

According to Ayurvedic medicine, Aloe Vera has several health benefits –

  • Antibiotic Properties that can be used to treat various skin ailments, sun burns, healing of cuts, wounds and scratches.
  • Analgesic Properties that inhibit pain, thus Aloe Vera gel is used in dental treatments and the treatment of mouth ulcers, sores, blisters etc. Its also used to treat piles, hemorrhoids, indigestion, constipation
  • Growth Stimulating Properties that stimulate the growth and formation of new cells. So it helps in curing burns as aloe penetrates the skin and removes the dead cells caused by infection, and forms new cells.
  • Halts the growth of cancer tumors
  • Heals the intestines and lubricates the digestive tract.
  • Stabilizes blood sugar and reduces triglycerides in diabetics.
  • Alkalizes the body, helping to balance overly acidic dietary habits.
  • Nourishes the body with minerals, vitamins, enzymes and glyconutrients.

You can read more about the benefits of Aloe Vera and its uses in Ayurveda here and here.

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