Herbal Medicine: Aloe Vera

Summer is here. Outdoor activities are a great part of a healthy lifestyle. Taking care of skin before and after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun is important. Sunburn can lead to not just sore skin, but also skin aging and skin cancer.

Aloe vera gel is widely known to relieve sunburn and help healing wounds. There are commercial made aloe after sun gel. It is very effective to use aloe gel directly from the leave for sunburn treatment. You can buy aloe vera leave at the supermarket. Cut a piece of Aloe vera leaf, squeeze out the clear gel in the inner part, and put the gel on the sunburn place of the skin. Be careful, the edge of the aloe vera leaf can be sharp.

Aloe is easy growing plant in tropical climates worldwide. My friend in Japan has many aloe vera in her yard. There are more than 400 species of Aloe, but the most popular and widely used species is Aloe barbadensis Miller (commonly referred to Aloe vera). We also can’t ignore the safety when using the herbal medicines.

The useful parts of aloe are the gel and latex. Aloe gel is the clear, jelly-like substance in the center of the leaf. Aloe latex is obtained from just under the plant’s skin and has yellow color. The clear aloe gel has traditionally been used to sooth a range of skin conditions including sunburn, acne, psoriasis et al.

The article from Mayo Clinic has given good summary of clinical applications and safety of aloe vera. Aloe gel is generally safe and can be effective in treating skin conditions. However, avoid using aloe latex orally. Aloe latex contains chemicals that appear to have the potential to cause cancer. Taking 1 gram a day of aloe latex for several days can cause kidney damage and might be fatal.


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