Aloe is extremely well known and widely used in the Caribbean. The cut leaves are steeped in water to extract the slimy pulp and make a drink, as a digestive cleanser and for bilious attacks. It can be very potent, and must be taken with care.

For colds, the leaf is peeled, cut up and steeped in proof rum. The split leaf is applied to wounds, and to the head for headaches.

Aloe is also an additive to hand lotions and skin care products and is used to soothe sunburn, minor burns, wrinkles, insect bites, skin irritations, cuts and scratches. However, it can cause dermatitis in some people.

The plant thrives in warm, dry, sunny habitats. It is thought to have come originally from Africa, but is now found all over the world. It makes a good houseplant if given plenty of sunlight and not over-watered.

Aloe Vera Juice

The benefits Aloe seem endless. Sebastian Pole, co-founder of Pukka Herbs and an expert in herbalism, says: Aloe Vera is renowned as a "heal-all" that is good for many conditions, both internal and external. It is a great rejuvenator and can help in some of life's big transitions, from cleansing teenage skin to cooling menopausal hot flushes and soothing dryness.'

Mix it in fruit juice or smoothies, or drink on its own.

1. Detoxifying
Aloe vera juice is full of amino acids, vitamins and minerals making it one of nature's most effective cleansers. It can help strengthen digestion and rid the body of any nasty waste, thus detoxifying the body naturally. Its main property is to be soothing, cooling and moistening which helps to clear inflammatory and irritating heat, such as in menopause, plus inflammatory skin and digestive problems, such as acne, rosacea and IBS.

2. Supports the immune system
Aloe vera has immune-boosting polysaccharides which help the immune system to behave properly. Too much inflammation in the body can cause problems within the immune system and can cause conditions like asthma, eczema and Crohn's disease. Soothing herbs like aloe vera juice can slow the inflammatory cascade and help reorder the immune response to prevent these conditions.

3. Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar
There is some evidence to suggest aloe vera lowers cholesterol and has a positive effect on blood sugar levels, meaning it can be useful for treating diabetes and obesity.

4. Excellent for digestion
It's worth trying for anyone who suffers with digestion problems like IBS. Its healing and soothing properties can help with the painful symptoms.

5. An easy way to boost your vitamin and mineral intake
Aloe vera juice is packed with vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 and folic acid. It's also rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium and potassium.

6. Hair growth
Full of natural vitamins and enzymes that can directly promote healthy hair.

7. Good for burns, acne and hydrating skin
When used topically aloe vera can soothe inflamed skin and enhance collagen and hyaluronic acid to help rejuvenate skin.

Are there any side effects you should know about?
There are no negative side effects if you use a pure aloe vera inner leaf juice (the clear slimy gel). If you use an aloe vera leaf product it may have high aloin levels and aloin is a laxative which can cause diarrhoea if too much is used. Of course, you should always consult your doctor before undergoing any complementary or alternative treatments for health problems.

How much aloe vera juice should should we take?
It depends on the potency of the aloe vera.

How to make Aloe Juice

  • 1. wash aloe vera leaf. pat dry with a cloth
  • 2. slit one of the edges with a scissor and open up the outer layer.
  • 3. Scoop off the gel, discard any greenish gel.
  • 4. Store it in a dry jar and refregerate for further use.
  • 5. Add 2 tsp gel to any fruit juice and blend.

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