Sourcing an aloe vera plant for your balcony, garden or survival homestead is step one in getting started with this beneficial plant, used since ancient times in Africa and Asia. Its multiple uses have now spread worldwide. The benefits vary from a source of Vitamin B12 to healing wounds, sunburn relief, moisturizing the skin, and a whole lot more.
The next step is to allow it to propagate, as you find you will use more and more aloe vera gel as you discover all its uses. Instead of rushing off to the store for various creams and ointments, simply step outside and cut off a leaf.
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The gel can be extracted by taking a leaf from the plant, washing it, and then slicing off the spines along each side, or you can find it online.
Using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife remove the skin of the leaf to reveal with clear gel inside with all its multiple healing properties. Use it fresh, or keep it sealed in the fridge for up to a week.
#1. Drinking aloe vera juice
Adding some aloe vera juice to smoothies, although it is not the best tasting liquid, is a source of vitamin B12 – one of the only plant-based sources of this essential vitamin, plus it can help with maintaining regular bowel movements, and assist with skin conditions like acne, dermatitis and psoriasis.
Cover the flavour with stronger fruit in the smoothie like mango or strawberry, and add honey as a sweetener. It is important to check with your medical practitioner before adding something like this to your diet in case there are contra-indications.
#2. Heartburn relief
A 2016 scientific study2 conducted on people aged between 18 and 65 who suffer from GERD (gastro oesophageal reflux disease), the symptoms of which include heartburn, acid reflux, belching, and more, revealed that although aloe vera syrup didn’t work as fast as other commercial medications it was found to be effective and safe, as well as being well tolerated by those in the study.
The problem with commercial PPIs (proton pump inhibitors), that work by reducing the amount of acid formed in the stomach, was found in various scientific studies to have been linked to various other long-term health issues such as hip fracture, kidney diseases, dementia, and overall cardiovascular mortality.
Mix your aloe vera gel with honey in a 1:1 ratio, and take a spoonful.
#3. Heal wounds
It’s long been known – in fact since ancient Egyptian times – that aloe vera gel soothes burns and lacerations. It can be applied directly to the site of minor burns as a fresh juice or as a frozen block from the freezer.
Aloe ferox extract can also be used on minor burns, lacerations and contusions. It is the minerals and vitamins within the plant that promote healing.
#4. Sunburn relief
Applying the gel to sunburnt skin helps sooth the pain of sunburn and promotes healing. Scientists know that the gel contains polysaccharides with a proven ability to increase movement within cells promoting efficient and faster regrowth of tissues.
The glycoproteins within the gel control the inflammatory response – taking the sting out of sunburn and acting as a pain reliever.
#5. In cosmetics
The use of aloe gel can sooth irritated skin due to the glycoproteins, plus it can stimulate the production of collagen while also revitalizing tissue repair for a smoother looking skin. It’s hydrating properties are well known for those suffering from dry skin and accompanying irritation.
Make a mask using aloe vera gel and honey in the following proportions – 1tablespoon honey, 2 teaspoons aloe vera gel, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon. Mix and apply to the face.
This recipe is good for those with skin breakouts, acne, or an irritated skin due to sunburn or chapping from the cold, as the ingredients are soothing and have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
#6. Coating fruit with to stop bacterial growth
In a 2014 study3 with tomatoes it was found that a coating of pure aloe vera extract, or the extract mixed with distilled water on tomatoes stored at 71 F (22 Celsius) over a period of 17 days resulted in inhibition of microbial growth, maintained the quality of the tomatoes, and delayed ripening.
Apparently, the coating has also been tried on apples. Why not do some of your own experiments with different fruit and see how long it keeps compared to untreated fruit? Blend some aloe vera gel with a little distilled water and paint onto your fruit.
Scientists have found that ulcers respond well to treatment with aloe vera pointing to the plant’s anthraquinones as having anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.
In fact this study4 showed that bacterial growth was reduced by 90% after using the gel for just 11 days on patients whose infected leg ulcers had shown resistance to other treatments.
#8. Possibly slows breast cancer growth
In a study5 on mice it was reported that the polysaccharides in aloe gel including mannose-6-phosphate and acemannan were able to enhance the anti-tumor activity of chemotherapy drugs.
In this report from Cancer Research UK it is mentioned that people are using aloe vera gel to treat radiotherapy burns, however they do say there is no proof of its efficacy in treating cancer, and in the customary cautionary manner of scientists, warn about ingesting the juice without consulting a doctor.
#9. Promotes hair growth
The amino acids and proteolytic enzymes within the gel can promote one’s hair to grow faster and thicker. Prepare half a cup of aloe vera gel and mix with a tablespoon of virgin olive oil.
After washing with shampoo and squeezing out the excess water, the gel and oil can be worked into the scalp and down the hair shaft. Leave on for about an hour – you can put on a shower cap and get on with some other activities while you wait. Rinse and condition.
Your hair should be soft and if you do this regularly should see hair growing longer and more prolifically.
#10. Reputedly helps with arthritis
To treat arthritis a number of people mix aloe vera juice with ginger and apple cider vinegar for a tonic that relieves the pain of osteoarthritis due to the anti-inflammatory properties of the tonic, but there does not seems to be conclusive scientific proof as yet.
#11. Controlling certain diseases in chickens
A drop or two of fresh squeezed aloe vera juice in chickens’ water controls disease
African subsistence farmers have done this for centuries as it helps for coccidiosis, Newcastle disease and Marek’s disease in chickens.
Be aware though that chickens may not recover if the disease has progressed too far before doctoring their water with aloe vera, so their water should be dosed as a preventative measure.
There have been claims that chickens grow faster and put on more weight, but that may just be because they are healthier with the addition of the aloe vera juice.
However don’t feed it to your dogs, cats or horses. Its toxicity for them is mild to moderate. You don’t want a dog or cat with diarrhoea or vomiting because you thought aloe vera would do them good.
Don’t give it horses either. It is also not advisable to feed to birds generally, apart from chickens, but it can be used externally to help with wound healing as long as the animals doesn’t lick the area.
#12. Relieve congestion
Cut up two whole aloe vera leaves into half inch chunks and place in a pan with 3 pints of boiling water, boil for a minute or two then remove from the heat and place on a secure surface, allowing to cool just a little before placing a towel over your head and leaning in to inhale.
It helps relieve congested airways. It is said to help prevent asthma attacks.
#13. Body rub
Remove two to three leaves form your plant, slice off the spines on each side, then slice the leaf in half lengthwise to expose the gel – use these open leaves to rub all over your body when you first get in the shower as an anti-bacterial and skin soothing body rub.
#14. Helpful for scalds
You know what it’s like when you remove the lid off a pot and the steam scalds you – painful. For this purpose you should always have some aloe vera gel stored in the fridge and gently apply the cold gel to the scald.
#15. Insect bites
For minor but irritating insect bites like mosquito and ant bites use some fresh gel on the area to help relieve the discomfort of the swelling and itching.
#16. After shaving gel
Ladies can apply some gel after shaving legs to soothe any nicks or irritated skin, and men can pat some on after shaving to avoid a rash. Although it is sticky when it comes out of the plant it is quickly absorbed and does not stay sticky, drying to a soft and smooth finish.
If the frostbite is either frostnip or superficial frostbite, once the affected area has been warmed using the correct method, then some aloe vera gel can be applied to soothe the skin, and for its anti-bacterial qualities. Severe frostbite however, needs proper medical attention.
#18. Control dry scalp
Make a mix of ¼ cup of aloe vera gel and ¼ cup castor oil and work it into the scalp. The amino acids and the anti-fungal properties of the gel can aid in controlling dry scalp, while the castor oil will moisturize the skin.
After working it in, place a shower cap over the hair and leave the gel mix to absorb for an hour or so before rinsing the hair.
#19. Keep eyebrows tidy and soothe after plucking
Instead of investing in a cream to keep eyebrow neat, just smooth on a tiny bit of aloe vera gel with a q-tip, or your finger, to keep them neat and in shape, while also soothing the skin if you have plucked them recently.
Once the gel dries it will keep brow hairs under control without being greasy.
#20. Encourage brow and lash growth
Mix equal parts of aloe vera gel and cold pressed virgin olive oil. Apply to your lashes and brows, but do not get under the eye – too much cream or oil of any sort in the eye area can absorb and cause puffy eyes.
#21. Soothe plant rashes
Various plants can cause rashes and stings should you touch them – if it’s not too serious apply aloe vera gel to the rash to soothe and relieve the itch/stinging.
#22. Foot Mask
We apply face masks regularly but feet can get forgotten.
First soak your feet for 10 minutes in warm water, then exfoliate the skin and moisturize feet with this mask: ¼ cup rolled oats, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel, 1tablespoon virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
Mix to a paste in a blender, place into a basin that will fit both your feet comfortably, and massage in for ten minutes. Rinse and dry your baby soft feet.
#23. Use for herpes outbreaks – cold sores
The effect of aloe vera gel on herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) was shown in this study6 to have an inhibitory effect on the growth of HSV 1 in a Vero cell findings showed significant inhibitory effect of 0.2-5% Aloe vera gel on HSV-1 growth in laboratory cell culture.
The conclusion drawn was that the gel could be used as a topical treatment for cold sores caused by HSV-1 infections.
#24. Genital herpes
The gel can also be used for genital herpes to soothe the discomfort and aid in the healing.
#25. Pimples and acne
When a pimple starts to appear rub on aloe vera gel to let it get to work on the infection causing the eruption. It is also soothing and healing for acne breakouts as it moisturises without clogging the skin while the amino acids in the plant go to work on the infection.
Apply twice a day, and continue treatment in the case of acne for a month – it does take time to see results with acne.
#26. Athlete’s foot
This nasty little infection caused by the tinea fungus often has a way of showing up when you are travelling – picked up in showers or other damp places where it likes to proliferate.
Travel with a little bottle of tea tree oil, and some aloe vera mixed with honey in a 1:1 ratio to preserve the aloe vera, mix in equal parts and apply to the affected area.
Working in the garden or with tools can result in blisters – apply aloe vera gel for a bit of relief.
#28. Skin allergies
Sometimes people come up with rashes that cannot easily be identified. Often they will go to a dermatologist to try and identify the cause – it could be something in a person’s diet, reaction to a type of pollen, medication or various other reasons.
Until the dermatologist finds the cause applying soothing aloe vera can help, but because a few people are allergic to the aloe vera gel it is important to do a patch test first to determine whether it really will help.
#29. As a hand cream
For a non-sticky hand lotion apply some pure gel straight from the plant – it also helps brighten the skin.
#30. Exfoliating hand scrub for dry chapped hands
Combine ¼ cup manuka honey (it’s a special honey from New Zealand’s manuka plant that has high concentrations of methylglyoxal – more so than standard honey, gives it its healing properties for wound care) with ¼ cup of aloe vera gel in a 1:1 ratio then add in ¼ cup of brown sugar.
Combine and use ½ of the mix as an exfoliating hand scrub taking care to work in around the cuticles for around 5 minutes. Your hands will feel so good and smooth when you have rinsed off the mix. Keep the other half to use at a later stage.
#31. Psoriasis relief
The National Psoriasis Foundation mentions that studies have shown that aloe vera gel is helpful for the scaling and redness associated with psoriasis, with applications up to 3 times a day of aloe vera gel providing some relief.
#32. Rosacea management
That’s the irritating red flush that can flare up after a day in the sun, a walk on a windy day, or a glass of red wine. While rosacea can’t be eliminated you can at least soothe the flareups with applications of aloe vera gel.
#33. Stretch mark prevention
Stretch marks do eventually fade but it’s almost impossible to get rid of them entirely, so, it’s better to start early – prime times for getting stretch marks are during growth spurts as children approach puberty, during periods when a person may gain weight suddenly and pregnancy.
The keep the skin elastic mix aloe vera gel and olive oil in a 1:2 ratio – 1 cup aloe vera to 2 cups virgin olive oil and rub in.
While aloe vera should not be taken internally by pregnant women due to its laxative effects, it is safe to use externally. Chat to your medical practitioner if pregnant and considering using aloe vera externally, just to be safe.
#34. Face mask
The benefits of raw milk and honey have been made famous in stories about Cleopatra who was said to bathe in milk and honey.
Make a mask of ¼ cup yoghurt, 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel. Mix and apply to the face, giving it 15 – 20 minutes to soak in and do its work before rinsing off gently with warm water.
#35, Warts be gone
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the culprit for warts – there are around 150 types of this virus. It’s not picking up toads – although they have a warty appearance hey certainly can’t give you warts.
Aloe vera gel with its concentrations of malic acid, has antibacterial and antiviral properties and will help with warts if applied two to three times daily for three weeks.
#36. Skin brightening
If you used the exfoliating hand scrub mentioned in #30 you will have noticed that your hands may have appeared lighter – using aloe vera mixed with Manuka honey in a 1:1 ration can help brighten the skin by fading the appearance of dark spots.
#37. Body Scrub
For summer-ready skin that glows, combine ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup of aloe vera, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.
Wet your skin in the shower, then turn off the water and rub the mixture vigorously into legs, arms and body for about 8 to 10 minutes before rinsing off. You will step out with smooth, glowing skin.
#38. Dry elbow and heel relief
To get rid of those flaky patches on elbows and heels it’s no use putting on lotion – you need to get rid of that dead skin first with a salt scrub of ¼ cup aloe vera gel, ½ cup sea salt, ¼ cup coconut oil and 2 teaspoons of raw honey.
Massage well into the skin until the dry flaky bits are gone, then rinse off and apply a layer of pure aloe vera gel.
#39. Hair conditioner
Add a tablespoon of aloe vera gel to your usual amount of conditioner when you wash your hair – it will leave hair looking healthier and shinier.
#40. Dog and horse shampoo
Mix an equal amount of aloe vera to the amount of shampoo you would normally use on your dog or horse and see how shiny their coats look after a couple of weeks of this treatment.
#41. Dog ear health
Dogs with floppy ears are prone to getting fungal infections if their ears are damp. Prevent this by applying pure aloe vera gel to the skin on the inside of their ears for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties to get to work before the nasties can take hold.
#42. Bikini line
Shaving or waxing the bikini line area can result in ingrown hairs or minor nicks and irritations. Use aloe vera gel to keep the area soothed, supple and free of bacteria.
Mix a teaspoon of aloe vera gel with 2 drops of lemongrass oil in ½ cup of water and use as a mouthwash to keep the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gingivitis at bay.
#44. Hemorrhoids relief
The anti-inflammatory properties of the aloe vera gel can help ease the discomfort of hemorrhoids when applied to the… anal area.
- Surjushe, A., Vasani, R., & Saple, D. G. (2008). Aloe vera: a short review. Indian journal of dermatology, 53(4), 163–166. https://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5154.44785
- Wilson, D. (2016) An Effective, Natural Treatment for GERD: Aloe Vera Syrup. Natural Medicine Journal Vol 8 (9)
- García, M., Ventosa, M., Díaz, R., Falco, S., & Casariego, A. (2014). Effects of Aloe
- vera coating on postharvest quality of tomato. Fruits, 69(2), 117-126.
- Banu, A., Sathyanarayana, B., & Chattannavar, G. (2012). Efficacy of fresh Aloe vera gel against multi-drug resistant bacteria in infected leg ulcers. The Australasian medical journal, 5(6), 305–309.
- Bałan, B. J., Niemcewicz, M., Kocik, J., Jung, L., Skopińska-Różewska, E., & Skopiński, P. (2014). Oral administration of Aloe vera gel, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory herbal remedy, stimulates cell-mediated immunity and antibody production in a mouse model. Central-European journal of immunology, 39(2), 125–130.
- Rezazadeh, F., Moshaverinia, M., Motamedifar, M., & Alyaseri, M. (2016). Assessment of Anti HSV-1 Activity of Aloe Vera Gel Extract: an In Vitro Study. Journal of dentistry (Shiraz, Iran), 17(1), 49–54.
As a child I wanted to grow up and marry a farmer… simply because it was so different from my life right on the shores of the ocean. Well, I didn’t marry a farmer but a surfer instead. The urge, however, to grow stuff and make great food for a big family never left. We are on acreage with a sea view and easy access to fresh caught crayfish and other seafood – the best of both worlds. As an artist and writer I enjoy creating new recipes, tweaking traditional ones, and sharing the results not only with family and friends, but online.