Aloe Vera. This is the chinensis variety, which is considered the non-edible kind, that is used topically for burns. It will have an orange flower, narrow spotted leaves, blue-green in color, and arranged in a flatter, stacked form.
Aloe Vera has 75 active constituents. It has vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fatty acids, hormones, salicylic acids, amino acids, and more. Glucomannan, a fiber, present in aloe is responsible for significant increase in collagen synthesis which makes the skin more elastic. The amino acids help to soften the skin and zinc tightens pores. Aloe Vera prompts a chemical reaction that secretes antioxidants in the skin and reduces immunosuppressive cytokins. Anthraquinones give Aloe Vera antiviral, antitumor, antimicrobial and laxative effects. The polysaccharides in Aloe have antiviral properties that ease gastrointestinal problems and stimulate the immune system. This succulent contains multiple antiseptic agents that help fight off fungi, bacteria and viruses.
The medicinal and even cosmetic uses of Aloe Vera date back to ancient Egypt. Cleopatra used it in her beauty routine and men would use it to treat battle wounds from war. Aloe Vera derives from the Arabic word “Alloeh” meaning “shining bitter substance,” while “vera” in Latin means “true.”
Aloe vera are low maintenance plants to take care of because they are succulents. All an aloe vera needs to thrive is: good cactus soil (mix of sand and soil), a well drained pot, partial sun, and minimal watering. Let the top of the soil completely dry between thorough drenching. Aloe grows naturally in arid, tropical, and semi-tropical environments, so mimicking these conditions will allow it to thrive. Aim for a temperature between 55 and 85 F (most indoor environments can achieve this) and don’t leave your container plant outdoors if nights are forecasted to dip below 40 F. Aloe cannot tolerate frost.
Harvest the largest, juicier bottom leaves first. You’ll want to look out for dark spots or root or stem rot, it could mean pests or a disease. Aloe will grow offshoots, called pups, to propagate.