There are thousands of species of plants with medicinal benefits, yet very few have been as widely cultivated as the succulent Aloe vera. Native to Africa, it is a short, often stemless plant with thick leaves, which upon puncture reveal a clear, watery gel. This gel has a long history of medicinal use, being widely recommended by herbalists for treatment of minor skin infections, wounds, certain types of cysts, and various burns. Although not officially recognized by the medical community, Aloe vera is gaining recent credibility as an herbal treatment for various ailments due to ongoing scientific research.
Among these common uses, it has been found that Aloe vera gel has soothing and moisturizing qualities on the skin, and is widely used as an added ingredient in lotions and sunscreen. You may already know about this, having seen it listed as an addition in many store-bought brands, but what you may not know about is its usefulness as a natural solution for protecting the skin against sunburn. Containing various vitamins, enzymes, minerals, sugars, and fatty acids, Aloe vera gel can quite effectively protect the skin from damage and dryness associated with sunburn, as well as relieve irritation and pain if sunburn does occur.
As Aloe vera is such a common and widespread plant, it isn’t hard at all to acquire the pure gel for a reasonably cheap price, be it from an online shop or your local supermarket. However, those of you who have a particularly green thumb may want to make an attempt to cultivate it for yourself, which, due to the plant’s hardy nature, is quite easy to do. It can be grown indoors or outdoors, and is very drought-resistant as well as frost-tolerant, making it a difficult plant to kill. You can also easily harvest the gel off the plant by breaking one of its many leaves, placing two fingers near the tip of the leaf, and gently squeezing out the gel through the hole at the base. You will want to use the gel as soon as possible, as the quality of its active ingredients degrades over time.
To use Aloe vera gel, simply squeeze it onto your fingers and apply it to all areas you wish to protect, gently rubbing it in and leaving a thin layer covering your skin evenly. It should dry in roughly ten to fifteen minutes, and you may apply a second layer for extra protection if you wish to do so. For the treatment and relief of burns, use as described above, reapplying as needed.
New research is constantly being done on this wonderful plant, leading to discoveries of even more possible medical uses. The potential of Aloe vera is near limitless, and as more experiments are conducted, we may find that its uses exceed even the highest expectations set for it in recent past.