Health & Wellness

Aloe Vera Giveaway - the gift that keeps on giving!

Janet Moje

Most everyone knows the benefits of Aloe Vera, the houseplant every home should have. Even if just for the convenience of being able to snip off a small bit to rub on a kitchen burn or cut to help assist and speed healing, this medicinal plant is easy to grow and will make babies to share with family and friends.

Part of the lily family, aloe is said to have over 200 active compounds, including vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, B3, B6 and one of the few plants to contain B12. It has been claimed to help with digestion, detoxification, immune system, cardiovascular health and skin health. It is a disinfectant, antibiotic, anti-microbial, germicidal, antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-fugal and anti-viral. Even if it only does half of what it is claimed, it is still a powerful ally in promoting good health.

Some studies also caution the use of Aloe Vera. It can cause severe cramping and diarrhea, which can lead to the poor absorption of nutrients and loss of electrolytes. Or, it can cause stomach upset and vomiting. It may cause low blood sugar, especially for diabetics on medication.

Aloin, the bitter, yellow component, has been shown to produce tumors in rats. Exercise caution when using this potent plant and check with your health care professional.

For the longest time, I thought aloe was only used topically. Simply slice open a leaf and use the gel inside for burns and abrasions or cuts and scrapes, but after trying some aloe juice several years back, it opened up a whole new dynamic of taking it internally. But slicing open a leaf, scraping out the gel and eating it resulted in the most bitter of tastes! So I did a little research to see what I was doing wrong.

Removing the inside 'gel'.
Removing the inside 'gel'.
The gel, once sliced off the skin, can be chopped and stored for future use.
The gel, once sliced off the skin, can be chopped and stored for future use.
PHOTOS: Janet Moje

Proper harvesting

The outer leaves can be eaten but they are tough and bitter, so usually people just harvest the inner gel for consumption.

  • Choose leaves that are healthy and at least 8 inches long, if it has a rosy tip, it is best. Slice it off close to the base but away from the centre of the plant. 
  • Rinse the outer skin.  
  • Hold the cut end down for a while to allow the yellow sap to drip out.
  • Remove the serrated edges with scissors or a knife.  
  • Use a sharp fillet knife and cut the gel away from the skin. Not too close as the yellow part is between the skin and gel.  

Storing & using your harvest

Save the gel in an air-tight container in the fridge. It should keep up to one week. It can also be stored in the freezer for at least a month. It can be pureed and added to smoothies and salad dressings, or cubed and eaten as a supplement. Larger pieces can be cooked gently, poaching it for example. It will release a lot of water, but will become softer and lose its slimy texture.

Whichever way you decide to use it, aloe vera makes a beneficial addition to your home.

The great aloe give-away

We have more Aloe Vera plants than we can use, so we are giving them away. Call The Valley Sentinel office at 250-566-4425 to check for availability and arrange a time for pick up at 1418 Bruce Place, Valemount –while supplies last!