Thursday, 2 February 2012

Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis)


Aloe Vera (Aloe barbadensis or Aloe vera)


Aloe Vera is also known as the Barbados Aloe, Burn Plant, Medicine Plant, Miracle Plant and Wand of Heaven. This is an evergreen perennial and as such will have leaves ready to harvest all year round. It can be grown outside in a sheltered sunny spot but must be brought in during the winter months or during a frost. It also makes a really good house plant and this is probably where most people in the British Isles keep their Aloe Vera plants.


Edible parts
The raw edible parts of this plant are the leaves and the seed. Whilst this plant is easily grown, it doesn't flower freely in the British Isles so seed production may be a bit thin on the ground. We don't have any other information on the seed apart from the fact that they are edible. The leaves consist of three parts. The first is the outer rind or skin. Next comes a layer of aloe latex which is a bitter, yellowy brown substance containing anthraquinones. These are usually filtered out in commercial products and they have strong laxative properties. Last is the centre of the leaf which consists of copious quantities of a tasteless clear gel. This inner gel is not laxative, is safe to eat and this is the bit we normally use.


The International Aloe Science Council explains how aloe is obtained commercially:
"To get to the inner leaf juice (aka aloe gel) without the latex and thus without the laxative effect, the plant is stripped of the outer rind either by hand or by machine (known as "filleting," because the inner leaf without its outer plant shell looks like a fish), and the latex is rinsed away. The remaining material is then ground or crushed into juice. The fibrous pulp is usually discarded. This process leads to aloe that is "decolorized" because removing the yellow latex leaves the juice clear.
Whole-leaf aloe is obtained by grinding the entire aloe leaf, then removing the rind material (usually using an enzyme treatment such as cellulose) and aloe latex via filtration (charcoal is a popular filtration form). A good filtration process removes the aloe latex down to 10 ppm or less in orally administered finished products and 50 ppm or less in cosmetic applications." 


Obtaining the gel for home use
Take a sharp knife and slice off a leaf from the bottom of the plant close to the base. New leaves grow up from the middle so try to avoid taking those. Be careful of the edges of the leaves because they are serrated and quite prickly. Plop the base of the leaf straight into a mug or glass temporarily otherwise gel will ooze everywhere. When ready, take the leaf and place it flat on a chopping board and slice it in half lengthwise with a chef's knife. Scrape out the gel with the flattened knife and tip the gel into straight into a bowl or blender. Use immediately otherwise the gel will oxidise and lose its beneficial properties. It would probably be OK in the fridge for a couple of hours but don't keep it for long. This gel is good added to smoothies or used on the skin as a wound healer. It is particularly good for burns and is very soothing. Aloe Vera has long been used as a home remedy and has many other medicinal applications.


Growing Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera can be grown from seed but the seeds may take months to germinate. Sow during the spring in a free draining compost. Keep in a warm sunny spot like a greenhouse until the seedlings have grown and then pot on. It is probably quicker and easier to propagate this plant by taking cuttings or by removing the little offset plants or pups which are produced around the edge of the mother plant. These come with their own root and can be gently prised away from the mother plant. Use a knife if need be to cut the little plants free. Let the cut dry out or scab over and then pot them up.


If growing from cuttings, slice off a bottom leaf from the mother plant and leave it to dry so that the bottom scabs over. It may take a few days. Then place in a pot of free draining compost making sure a third of the plant is below the soil. Keep the soil moist for the first few weeks. The stalk may shrivel a bit but don't worry and don't over water. It should root quite quickly.


General care
Water the plants about once a month but let the soil dry out in between watering. Aloe Vera can be grown in most soils but prefers a free draining soil suitable for a cactus. We don't feed ours with anything in particular except leftover herbal tea. We do, however, refresh most of the soil every year preferring to use our own home made vegan organic compost for this.


We tried growing the Aloe outside but ended up faffing about worrying about it being too cold or frosty. Beware if dark shrivelled leaves appear as they are a sign of frost damage. We thought it would like a hot sunny spot but found that it didn't like direct sunlight at all. In fact the leaves turned an orangey/brown colour and become very stressed. Ours do much better inside than out and the plants are much easier to use especially during the winter.

23 comments:

  1. are all types of aloe vera edible?? how 2 check d aloe vera wich i have in my home edible or not?? is der any test for that??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kush Kanodia, all aloevera are not edible, only barbadensis Mill. is known as the best variety of aloevera, if you like to participate in aloevera health and distributor network, than please feel free to contact me, my name Dr. I.K. Sachdeva, email:ishnoida@gmail.com, mob:09250950118.

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  2. There are many species of Aloe, they are not all edible and they can be difficult to identify. To be on the safe side, we would recommend starting from scratch and purchasing an organic Aloe vera plant from a reliable source.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hi blog owner, you are right, if you/ any one feeling difficult to identify the plant/ species ?
      as there is/are only Lab Method(s) available for this......
      only barbadensis Mill. is known as the best variety of aloevera, if you like to participate in aloevera health and distributor network, than please feel free to contact me, my name Dr. I.K. Sachdeva, email:ishnoida@gmail.com, mob:09250950118.

      Delete
  3. Is there any chance I could show you a picture of my Aloe plant to help me identify it? I would really appreciate it!

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    Replies
    1. It would be difficult to identify from a picture or at all so wouldn't like to risk it. Sorry.

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  4. Awesome info I noticed that they don't like direct sunlight as well

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks to my father who shared with me concerning this website,
    this website is actually remarkable.

    My webpage: web site

    ReplyDelete
  6. i just eat the aloe plant that's growing in a pot on my balcony. i know it's edible because i eat it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me to I didn't know that you could eat all the aloe Vera plants.. I followed a YouTube movie of making juice of the gel and I did it , all went fine lucky me! So guess mine is eatable to.

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    2. (From : Dr. I.K. Sachdeva) NATUROPATH
      Hi friends if you are in India and/ or you like to know more about aloevera plant and it's uses, please feel free to contact me my email is : ishnoida@gmail.com
      Mob: 09250950118

      we have lot of other alternative of aloevera :)

      Delete
  7. Great Blog!! Aloe Vera is really good for health. Your thought processing is wonderful. The way you tell the thing is awesome.
    herbalhills

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  8. is the inner gel edible?

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    Replies
    1. hi friends Yes Inner Gel is also edible, but take care of original plant.

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  9. Yes, the clear gel is edible as is the whole leaf. The clear gel is very palatable but the layer between that and the outer skin of the leaf is very bitter.

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  10. One hour ago I ate a very tasty section of aloe root, with only a slightly bitter aftertaste. The question is: Will I still be on the planet twenty-four hours hence?

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  11. Replies
    1. I'm sorry, we don't know whether aloe somaliensis is edible or not.

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  12. Any idea where you can purchase an organic plant of the edible variety in the UK?

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  13. Try poyntzfieldherbs.co.uk. They use organic and biodynamic methods to grow their plants.

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  14. Curious....is the "stalk" of the flowering aloe edible and does it have any beneficial qualities?

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    Replies
    1. I'm sorry we don't have any information about the stalk.

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