Liliaceae, the lily family
Aloe is a perennial that is native to the Mediterranean region of southern Europe and North Africa. It is a shallow rooted plant which forms a dense rosette of thick succulent leaves. The leaves can grow to 60cm tall. They are narrow and tapering, flat on the upperside and round underneath. Along the edges are ridges of triangular shaped teeth. Young leaves are marked with white dots and streaks, with the more mature leaves becoming a green-grey colour. Inside the fleshy leaves there is a mucilaginous green flesh. Aloe flowers with a pendulous, tubular flower carried on a metre long stalk.
Aloe Vera has many traditional medicinal uses including treatment of skin diseases, ulcers, burns, wounds, sore throats and eye inflammations. It has also been used to treat intestinal worms. Modern usage includes application of the gel from the cut leaves to treat dry skin, eczema and minor burns. The gel is soothing and healing and offers relief from discomfort. The leaf is cut to expose the jelly like centre which is then spread over the affected area.
Aloe Vera is grown from offshoots that develop around the base of the parent plant when it is about a year old. They can be removed and transplanted whilst still small. Aloe requires sandy soil with good drainage and dislikes wet conditions. It is sensitive to temperature changes and requires regular watering to maintain the gel in the leaves. It is suitable to grow in a pot and should be repotted every three to four years to maintain good growth.
- A cut Aloe Vera leaf showing the clear gel
- Aloe Gel for Acne
- The gel can be dabbed directly onto the affected area or mixed with a little almond meal and vegetable oil to make a mask. Massage the mask on very gently, leave approximately 10 minutes and then wash off with cool water. Follow with a toning liquid if desired.
- Aloe Ointment (for Eczema)
- 115g cold pressed soy oil
- 42g cocoa butter
- 28g comfrey root water
- 28g aloe gel
- Make comfrey root water by simmering scrubbed chopped comfrey roots until they are soft. Strain off the liquid. Melt the cocoa butter and soy oil together at low temperature. Put the comfrey root water and aloe gel in a blender and add the oils in a thin stream. Store in a screw top jar and use as necessary.
- The above recipes have been taken from “The Make-Your-Own Cosmetic & Fragrance Book for Australians by Elizabeth Francke”. A professional medical opinion should be sought for all serious conditions.