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By Ruchel Louis Coetzee
Posted On May 15, 2017

Think back to the time you scraped your knee after a fall or nipped your finger after slicing one too many tomatoes. What was your immediate reaction? You clean the wound, apply anti-bacterial cream, and hope that your damaged skin heals fast – correct? It is what I would have normally done, that is, until the other day when I tripped and fell on the road while jogging. The picture was not great. I had scrapes all over my body including two light scratches on my face, where I ate the gravel. My husband suggested that my damaged skin would heal faster with gel from the aloe vera leaf he had stored in the fridge. What did I have to lose at this point? After wiping the wounds clean with a disinfectant, I took both halves of a small portion of the aloe vera leaf my husband had cut off and rubbed it all over my skin and face. It felt incredibly smoothing and moisturizing even after 10 minutes. The verdict three days later – wounds were healing faster with no visible marks on my face, wow!

Traditional herbal use of the aloe vera leaf has been around since it was first reported in the Ebers Payprus in Egypt from the 16th century BC. A 2007 review of aloe vera use in burns concluded, “cumulative evidence tends to support that aloe vera might be an effective intervention used in burn wound healing for first-to second-degree burns.” Another study found that topical application of aloe vera may also be effective for psoriasis. Although positive clinical studies are constantly being contradicted by other studies, there has to be a compelling reason why herbalists are still using it as part of their traditional therapy many centuries later. With its anti-flammatory and antimicrobial properties, aloe vera gel straight from the leaf certainly helped heal my damaged skin fast. The result could possibly be explained by the fact that aloe can speed up skin cell reproduction and penetrate the epidermis faster than water. Also, aloe is rich in vitamins C and E and beta carotene. And, since no side effects have been reported for any topical use of aloe vera gel, there is really no excuse not to keep a leaf in your fridge for emergencies.

If you cannot grow an aloe plant in your garden, Whole Foods and other organic markets sell the aloe leaves individually. It is best to store the whole aloe leaf, thorn side up, in the refrigerator, and cut only a small section for use each time. Cover the exposed leaf with plastic wrap after each use. The leaf should preserve in the refrigerator for about 20 – 25 days.

How to cut the aloe vera leaf for use on skin

  1. Use a sharp knife to cut a one inch section of the aloe leaf at the base.
  2. Slice away the thorny edge from one side of the leaf and discard.
  3. Slice the leaf open lengthwise so you have two halves with the gel side up.
  4. Take a portion at a time and rub over the skin.
  5. Leave on for 10 – 15 minutes to allow the gel to be absorbed through the epidermis.

For sunburn, accelerated wound healing, and reduction in blemishes and acne, look no further than the lowly, yet very effective, aloe leaf. It is nature’s medicine man.


Aloe Vera