I like to cook and I use lots of herbs in my family’s meals. Culinary herbs offer so much flavour and are a valuable source of micronutrients. Yet although I grow plenty of herbs outside in the garden, there is only one herb growing in my kitchen. In fact the most important herb in my kitchen is not a culinary herb. It is Aloe vera.
Aloe vera is a cactus-like, succulent plant. It is likely that it was originally from North Africa, growing along the upper Nile. Though it now grows in many countries with hot, dry climates.
The leaves of Aloe vera are thick and fleshy. Though the plant itself is mostly water, about 98.5%. When a leaf is cut open it reveals a thick, colourless and odourless gel inside.
This viscous gel is used in commercial preparations for the cosmetics industry. It also has proven medicinal properties. With studies describing it as especially useful for treating minor wounds, inflammation and burns. I also find the fresh Aloe vera gel moisturising and soothing. I always keep an Aloe vera plant in my kitchen for this reason. Not that I am especially accident prone. But just in case!
It is simple to harvest the gel from Aloe vera. Cut off a small piece of a leaf. Remove the outer green layer and there you have an amazing gel for skin. It is considered safe for topical use unless you have a known allergy to plants in the lily family.
I use it on cuts, scratches and wounds to quickly heal them. Smoothing the gel onto dry skin, burns and sunburn to help soothe and heal. Or on spots, rashes and insect bites. It may even help to repel insects. In fact I would try using Aloe vera on any minor skin irritation. Any gel that is not immediately used I store for a day or two in the fridge.
Research studies support the effective use of Aloe vera in trials. For skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, first and second degree burns, herpes simplex virus and lichen planus.
If you try Aloe vera gel for yourself, please leave me a comment.