Aloe vera is a plant of tremendous benefits and does not need an introduction. It is a plant of amazing therapeutic properties that make it the favorite and commonly used herbal home remedies around the world. It is found in almost all herbal products for hair care and skin care. It is also a medicinal plant that is used to care various diseases such as arthritis pain, minor burns and skin burns.
Aloe vera is known as Ghritkumari in Hindi. Egyptians called this plant as “the Plant of Immortality”. In Ayurveda it is named as “Kathalai”. Botanical name of Aloe vera is Aloe barbadensis miller.
It is a succulent and perennial plant with leathery and thick leaves with pointed tips.Leaves are green to dark green in color. It does not have stem. It is a xerophytic plant found in dry regions of various countries. It has yellow colored flower.
Scientific Classification of Aloe vera (1)
Family: Aloaceae (Asphodelaceae)
Species: Aloe vera (L.)
Part of Aloe Leaf
Aloe vera leaves are fleshy and pulpy from inside. Aloe leaves have pointed tips and have thorns on the edges.
Have you ever cut an Aloe vera leaf? If yes, then you must have seen the gel inside the leaves. When you cut an Aloe vera leaf and peel the skin of the leaf, you will see the transparent gel that is extremely beneficial of human skin.
In general, Aloe vera leaf has two parts, aloe gel and latex. Gel is transparent and clear pulp that can be easily extracted from the leaf. Leaf latex is the juicy liquid that oozes out of the leaf when it is cut open. Latex is yellow in color and bitter in taste. Aloe latex is used to cure many human health problems.
Aloe vera is rich in phyto-chemicals and phyto-nutrients. Some of the potentially active components present in this wonderful plant are vitamins A, C and E, calcium, manganese, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc; phyto-steroids such as chloesterol, lupeol; auxins, giberellins, glucose, fructose, glucomannans, anthraquinones, etc.
How to Grow Aloe vera?
Since Aloe vera is a succulent plant, it is very easy to grow in the house with minimum cost and maintenance. It ca be easily grown in kitchen garden, balcony and on the terrace in an earthen pot. You can also grow it in a plastic pot. It can be gown in sandy soil as it cannot tolerate water accumulation. You can also use regular potting soil or any soil available in your backyard.
The most important thing to be considered here is that it requires proper sunlight for its growth as it is a xerophytic plant. It does not need any kind of fertilizers but make sure that water does not keep standing in the pot for long time.
Once the leaves have matured, you can harvest them and extract the gels and store in the refrigerator for longer use.
Benefits of Aloe vera
Therapeutic benefits of Aloe vera are known for centuries and now it has been scientifically proven. It is also considered as a super food as it is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and phyto-hormones.
Aloe vera boosts the immune system and helps in fighting against various microbial diseases. It is also a potent anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral agent. It is used to treat dandruff and alopecia (2).
The fatty acids present in the Aloe gel has anti-inflammatory, anti-septic and analgesic properties. Aloe vera juice aids the digestive system and cures any problems related to digestive system.
Aloe vera gel has excellent healing capacity. It is a natural skin healer that works on the tissues of the skin and heals the skin internally. Aloe gel also contains polysaccharides that promotes skin growth and heals the skin as well. The mucilaginous part of the leaf helps in treating wouds both internal and external (3,4).
I hope, this blog will be beneficial for you in understanding a very common plant in your locality. More blogs on this amazing plant will be coming in next blogs. Your comments on Aloe vera are welcomed.