Typically thought of as the ugly duckling from the lily plant family, this common, yet often overlooked, succulent plant has dozens of uses. The amazing green gem known as the Aloe Vera plant produces beautiful yellow or orange tubular flowers in the summer months yet still remains a silent superstar of the plant world. With more than 250 varieties, it is an ornamental plant, houseplant or garden plant. The aloe vera plant has many uses valuable to the home prepper. Here are a few ways to use this versatile plant.
The aloe vera plant’s gel has naturally occurring antiseptic qualities which help fight germs and bacteria. This gel is regularly used to:
- Help ease the sting of an insect bite.
- Provide cooling relief for sunburns and other burns.
- Take care of rashes.
- Heal the skin after mild frostbite or other open wounds.
- Provide relief to those who suffer from dandruff or psoriasis.
The juice extracted from the plant is believed to help increase blood circulation, detoxify the body and work as a laxative. It also is used widely as a homeopathic solution to help with digestion problems and symptoms of acid reflux.
Alternative medicine holds that the nutrient-rich juice lowers blood sugar levels and cholesterol.
To keep a fresh dose of its goodness ready, grow and maintain your own plant. You can either start with a seed or propagate a leaf. If you choose the leaf method, follow these steps:
- Cut off a piece of leaf from a healthy mature plant at least 3 inches long.
- Let the cut portion heal (a scab will form).
- After the leaf has formed a scab, plant it scab-side down into good potting soil.
- Water accordingly (keep it moist to the touch).
- Place in sunlight and let it grow.
You may plant it outdoors if you cover it and tend it during winter months. The aloe vera is an excellent houseplant that requires minimal attention.
The bigger the plant, the more juice and thicker gel it produces. When you are ready to extract some gel or juice, cut off a healthy leaf and, much like filleting a fish, simply slide a sharp knife under the bright green skin and yellow rind until you are at the fleshy meat of the plant. The gel, which often has an odor, can then be scraped off with a spoon.
To get juice, take the fleshy gel-filled meaty substance from the leaves, without the skin or rind, and pop it into a grinder or blender to liquefy. Adding a couple of tablespoons of your favorite citrus juice to the liquid will help with the taste and make it easier to pour and clean up.
The long flower stalks and dried leaves make excellent firestarters or, if they are still green and pliable, are great as fiber-thatching material. Certain varieties produce flowers that contain sweet nectar, which you can boil and reduce to make tea.
Because the antiseptic gel and nutrient-rich juice make excellent home remedies, it may be something you want to keep on hand, although that can be tough since the gel and juice have little, to no, shelf life. Freezing the gel and juice is the easiest way to store them. Fill ice-cube trays with either pure juice or gel extract and freeze them.
When you need quick cooling relief for skin irritations, a frozen cube of pure gel comes in handy.
Or if you want to add a little nutrient-rich punch to a drink or smoothie but do not want the hassle of extracting from the plant daily, simply pop in an aloe ice cube, sit back and enjoy its goodness.
Do you keep an aloe vera plant in your home? How do you use it for you and your family?