ALOE

Aloe vera 

Common Names: Aloe, Aloe Vera, Barbados Aloe, Lily of the Desert
Family: Asphodelaceae 
Part/s Used: Inner gel + Juice
Energetics: Cooling, moistening  
Taste: Sweet, salty, mildly bitter 
Actions: Cathartic, vulnerary, demulcent, vermifuge, emmenagogue, emollient
Constituents: Aloins, anthraquinones, resin
Element: Water
Planet: Moon
Herblore: Protection, luck

Medicinal Preparations:

Capsules: "00" or "0"   Times a Day: 1x

Take with other carminative herbs to reduce cramping.  Use juice or gel topically as needed 

Habitat and Botanical Description:

Aloe is indigenous to east and south Africa and have been introduced and cultivated excessively in tropical countries. These succulent plants prefer warm, dry regions with lots of sun in sandy well-drained soil and moderate watering.  Aloe is an easy plant to grow in the house or in the garden. You can see in the signature of aloe in which the environment it grows in.   Aloe grows in dry, hot environments but generates this moist, juicy succulent quality.  Oftentimes, the environment in which a plant grows reflects the environment in the body in which it treats.

Medicinal Uses:

Aloe is a timed honored medicinal plant and one of the most commonly used demulcents in western herbalism. Demulcents are essentially plants that will increase the moisture content of the tissues and the mucosal membranes.  This makes it suitable for dry/atrophy tissue states. When there is dryness, think of your demulcents.   

Aloe acts as demulcent and helps coat mucous membranes from the mouth down to the rectum, soothing inflamed tissues. This makes aloe an excellent remedy for treating ulcers and inflamed upper and lower digestive conditions.  Aloe is an ally when there is a need to stimulate the bowels.  Good for impacted, dehydrated feces when a person is constipated for 3-5 days. Use in combination with carminative herbs like ginger or fennel to prevent intestinal cramping. Take the night before to have movement the next day.  Can take 12- 18 hours to take effect.  

External:

Aloe is an excellent herb for the home first aid kit. The gel or the inner fillet contain salicylic acid and magnesium, substances that work synergistically to ease pain, speed up healing and tissue repair. Its cooling, emollient and vulnerary properties make it useful for treating hot skin conditions such as burns of all degrees, acne, ring room, abrasions and aids in scar prevention.    

Harvesting: 

It is best to pick aloe from mature plants, preferably those planted in the ground. When the tips of the leaves attain a rosy tinge, the leaf is ripe and ready to harvest. The plant is slow growing, so be cautious when aloe harvesting not to take too many leaves in a condensed period. Additionally, avoid removing the lower smaller leaves and focus on the larger upper foliage. Choose a thick, smooth large leaf and use a clean, sharp knife to cut it as close to the trunk as possible. A knife is the best way to harvest the leaves, as hand picking aloe vera may cause tissue damage to the leaf and the plant. Unblemished leaves are the best tasting (less bitter) and contain the most aloe gel. Store in the refrigerator for a few weeks and longer is you add 500 IUs of vitamin C for every cup of gel. The dried powder from the outer leaf can be a very strong laxative and purgative and should be used with caution. Follow dosage instructions.  

Contraintradictions: 

The outer leaf is a stimulant/laxative and can be quite irritating. Warming and not safe for internal use during pregnancy, lactation or for children or very elderly.  Avoid with individuals with severe inflammation of the colon. Some people do not feel the strong laxative effect from juice mislabeled often, if mucilaginous it is the gel. Do not use Aloe regularly as it can cause a dependence and disrupt electrolyte balance.  Use short term for 1-2 weeks. For cuts and bruises and open wounds use fresh gel only directly expressed from houseplants. Store bought gel can cause staph infection and burn as it contains more bacteria. Because Aloe increases dampness and hydration in the tissues, it’s critical to remember that this herbal action is completely contraindicated in any situation where there is dampness, stagnation of fluids, or the kapha constitution. Oftentimes if they are given and contraindicated, the person will feel nauseous as it builds up too much dampness in the stomach. They are best given to thin, nervous, dried out vata type constitutions, or overly hot pitta types that have dryness in their constitution.

Sources:
Northwest School for Botanical Studies by Christa Sinadinos
Herbal Academy Monographs by The Herbal Academy 
A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve
The Earthwise Herbal by Matthew Wood
Evolutionary Herbalism by Sajah Popham