Aloe Vera: Uses, Preparation and Recipe.

Aloe Vera Plant

For many centuries, the aloe vera plant has been known and used for its beauty, medicinal, health, and dermatological properties (History of Aloe, 2021). Botanically, it is referred to as Aloe barbadensis miller, belonging to the Asphodelaceae family. Aloe vera is a shrubby, perennial, succulent, xerophytic, pea-green color plant that grows mainly in the dry regions of Africa, Europe, Asia, and America. Aloe vera has over 75 potentially active constituents, including vitamins, minerals, enzymes, aspirin, lignin, saponins, amino acids, sugars, fatty acids, hormones, and salicylic acids. 

Historically, aloe vera is one of the oldest mentioned plants commercially grown for the health and moisturizing benefits found inside its leaves. An adult aloe vera plant attains maturity at 3-4 years and may reach a height of 30 inches along with up to 21 leaves (“The Aloe Vera Story – Lily of the Desert,” 2021). Countries like Africa and other ancient cultures believe that the aloe vera is the epitome of protection, spiritual upliftment, and good luck. The benefits of aloe vera cannot be understated. Consequently, knowing how to harvest and preserve the plant for the maximum benefits is very vital.

Harvesting aloe vera is not just about the acquisition stage, but it also extends greatly to the preparation stage. After harvesting an aloe vera plant:

  • Hold down the cut end to allow the aloin to run out.
  • Wash the leaf with water, lay it flat on the table, and cut the serrated edges.
  • Begin on one side and filet off the skin on all the sides, including the yellowish layer, until you expose a clear to white, translucent flesh.

This flesh is the good stuff you are looking for that is ready to use after a quick rinse. It makes no difference if you want to use a store-bought aloe vera gel or a fresh aloe vera plant in the long run. With the store-bought aloe gel, preserving may be pretty easy as the commonly added preservatives do the work for you. For whole leaves, however, keeping the harvested gel fresh may be a little challenging. It is possible to extend the entire leaves’ lifetime by storing them in your refrigerator or freezer; otherwise, the leaves will start going bad after 1-2 days.

Types of Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera Powder

Aloe Vera Powder is a valuable addition to most cosmetics and self-care products, including toothpaste, shampoo, mouthwash, conditioner, skin salve, face scrub, hand sanitizer, and makeup.

Aloe vera leaf powder comes in two variations: leaf powder and inner leaf powder (2021). Distinguishing between these two variations is essential in ensuring that you get a product that suits your needs best. Leaf powder, sometimes referred to as 100X, is made from the entire aloe leaf and may omit aloin. Aloin, also known as aloe latex, is a substance found beneath an aloe leaf’s skin. In preparing aloe vera powder, the filtration process, where most of if not all of the aloin is removed, is very vital. So important is the process that if not performed, the product fails to be California Proposition 65 compliant and is listed as carcinogenic. Since this type of powder is less labor-intensive, it is generally less expensive. Additionally, you can obtain more aloe powder from the liquid than the inner leaf product due to its higher matrix.

On the other hand, inner leaf powder uses only the gel taken from the leaf’s interior, meaning that the aloin is generally left unused. The quality of the inner leaf powder highly depends on how well the leaf is skinned. Inner leaf powder, obtained from inner leaf juice, has a lower brix level meaning that more liquid is used to produce the same powder quantity. Comparably, it is more labor-intensive. These two attributes result in powder being generally expensive.

Uses and Preparation of Aloe Vera powder

To make aloe vera powder:

  • Take 1-2 fresh aloe vera leaves. 
  • Wash it thoroughly to remove the yellow resin from the leaves.
  • Slice it into a tiny piece.
  • Place the slices on a tray.
  • Dehydrate them using a dehydrator or place them under the sun to dry.
  • Once dried, then ground into a fine powder.
  • Transfer the powder into a container and use it when needed.

Aloe vera powder is a valuable addition to most cosmetics and self-care products, including toothpaste, shampoo, mouthwash, conditioner, skin salve, face scrub, hand sanitizer, and makeup.

Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera Gel is good for hair growth

While you can quickly get aloe gel from stores, most of these commercially prepared aloe gels contain additives that may be potentially harmful. Preparing aloe vera gel at home is easy provided you have the needed equipment, including a knife, a small spoon, a blender, an airtight container for storage, and an aloe vera leaf itself.

Uses and Preparation of Aloe Vera Gel at home, 

To obtain the aloe vera gel

  • Use a fresh aloe plant leaf cut from the plant’s base. Alternatively, you can buy it from a local store. 
  • Wash the leaf well and allow it to stand upright in a cup or bowl for about 15 minutes to allow the yellow-tinted resin to drain out of the leaf. 
  • This resin contains latex that is a skin irritant, so completing this step is vital.
  • Follow this step by washing off any remains, then peel off the thick skin using a small knife or vegetable peeler. 
  • Peeling the leaf will expose the natural aloe vera gel, which you can easily scoop out with a spoon being careful to exclude any pieces of the aloe vera skin. 
  • Place the gel in a blender and mix until it is frothy and liquefied. Your aloe vera gel is now ready for use. 
  • If you plan on keeping the gel for more than a week, make sure to add preservatives in the form of Vitamin C and E to extend the shelf life.

Aloe Vera Juice

Aloe Vera Juice provides health benefit

Aloe vera juice, a thick liquid made from the aloe vera plant leaf’s flesh, is commonly used to treat sunburns. Drinking this healthful elixir in the form of juice will provide you with several health benefits. 

Uses and Preparation of Aloe Vera Juice

To obtain the aloe Vera juice: 

  • You crush or grind the whole aloe vera plant leaf, then subject it to various steps of purification and filtration process.
  • You can easily prepare the aloe vera juice at home by following some simple steps. 
  • Begin with taking an aloe leaf and cutting it from the stem, then wash it properly. 
  • Use a sharp knife, cut the leaf into tiny cubes being careful about the thorny edges. For the best results, always go for a green aloe leaf.
  • The next step is to extract the gel by removing the aloe leaf’s outer layer to slice through the leaf’s latex. You can use a spoon or knife to scoop out the gel. Ensure you remove the latex so that the gel is free of laxative properties. 
  • Finally, to make the juice, you will need a blender. Add two tablespoons of aloe juice and water to make a natural aloe juice. 
  • Usually, accentuating the taste and the health quotient of your healthy aloe juice is a perfect idea. You can accommodate your choice of ingredients such as honey, ginger, and lime juice, making sure to drink the mixture the same day you blend it.
  • Because of its mild and tolerable flavor and the fact that it mixes easily into smoothies and shakes, aloe vera juice is a practical whole food supplement.

Aloe Vera Oil

Aloe Vera Oil is added in skin moisturizers, anti-acne agents, hair-growth boosters

While the aloe vera may be considered a wonder plant on its own, it does not produce any oil. However, preparing aloe vera oil is not a difficult task, and you can achieve this in the comfort of your home. 

Uses and Preparation of Aloe Vera Oil

To prepare aloe vera oil to use at home,

  • You will need aloe vera plant and coconut oil. 
  • Place this aloe leaf on a flat surface and cut off the sharp thorns from the leaf’s sides. 
  • After you cut open the lead from the top, scoop out the aloe vera gel. 
  • Add the aloe vera pulp to a mixer grinder, then take out the crushed aloe vera and keep it inside. An alternative to this is purchasing natural aloe vera gel from the market.
  • Place your pan on medium heat, add coconut oil and crushed aloe vera and keep stirring until the oil starts turning brown. 
  • Allow the oil to cool down, drain the mixture and store it in a dry bottle.

Aloe vera oil is added in skin moisturizers, anti-acne agents, hair-growth boosters, hydrating and anti-aging solutions, and stretch mark healers.

NOTE: Please, seek advice from your health practitioner before adding these herbs and spices to your diet. Because some herbs and spices might contraindicate with prescription medication.

11 Herbs and Spices that Aid for Cold and Flu

Herbs and Spices

The rows and rows of colored spices and herbs lining your kitchen cabinet are not only good for bringing life to bland food but are also powerhouses of antioxidants and disease-fighting compounds. Spices, known famously for just their flavoring abilities, have exceptional medicinal properties such as that Aid for Cold and Flu. And as the winter months approach, bringing about flu and cold for everyone around. But what if it were possible to ward off these infectious viruses with your spice cabinet? Keep reading to learn how to combat the common cold and boost your immune system simultaneously.

Elderberry to Aid for Cold and Flu

For centuries, elderberry has been used in traditional medicine to treat influenza, colds, and sinusitis, and it has antiviral activity against the flu. Studies were carried out on the effectiveness and safety of oral elderberry syrup as a treatment for influenza A and B infections. Individuals who got elderberry syrup 15 ml four times a day for five days have their symptoms relieved on average four days earlier. Thus, its extract appears to offer an effective, safe, and cost-effective therapy for influenza.

Conclusions contained in the report have not been confirmed in more extensive research. However, black elderberry helps decrease the seriousness, duration, and complications of the flu. In addition, it played a vital part in the active prevention of the common cold.

Elderberry syrup that Aid for Cold and Flu

How to use:

  1. Cook the berries with water and sugar.
  2. Drain it.
  3. Boil the liquid until reduced.
  4. The syrupy is ready.
  5. Take one teaspoon or a tablespoon of the syrup as needed.

Turmeric

The bright yellow hue of turmeric is mainly used to brighten and flavor curries, but it can seldom ignore its anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, it contains vast quantities of the compound curcumin, which is a potent antiviral and, if used regularly, can be a preventative for the influenza virus. Turmeric is also an excellent antimicrobial agent which helps suppress coughs and clear up respiratory infections left behind by a heavy cold. 

How to use Turmeric to Aid for Cold and Flu:

An immune-boosting elixir that has been around for centuries, golden milk is one of the best ways to consume turmeric. Golden milk is a beautiful addition or swap for your regular caffeinated tea or coffees, providing vital energy and antioxidant boost along with an exciting flavor. A daily dose of this truly makes a difference.

(For one cup)

1. Combine 1 cup of the milk of your choice (we prefer almonds). 

2. Add one teaspoon of turmeric powder into a saucepan. 

3. Heat up to a slight simmer. 

4. Pour into a cup and enjoy your golden milk latte! Again, we recommend a sweetener for optimal taste (try ½ teaspoon of honey).

5. The yellowish color of turmeric can stain when used topically

6. Use a paste of baking soda and water to eliminate the color on your hands or teeth

Licorice

If you are getting a fond flashback to your childhood candy shop, this may be the wrong licorice you are reading. Licorice root is an age-old and much trusted herbal substance for dry and productive coughs and chest congestions. It is a strong expectorant that helps relieve even the mightiest coughs and soothe irritated throats by aiding the disturbed mucus membrane during a cold. In addition, it treats cough and viral and bacterial infections.

How to use:

The uses of licorice root are extensive, but the most effective way to reap its benefits is by turning it into simple cough syrup. Therefore, cough syrup is the most common and valuable use for this aesthetic herb.

(For one cup of syrup)

1. Add 3 cups of water into a pot (preferably a glass pot).

2. Add 5 to 6 pieces of licorice root to it (fresh or dried).

3. Simmer it until it reduces to approximately one cup. 

4. Add three tablespoons of honey when cool and store it in a bottle. 

Excellent for use whenever your throat feels sore or when you can’t sleep due to excessive coughing.

Cinnamon to Aid for Cold and Flu

Apple pies and scented candles? These are two things that define aesthetics! 

Cinnamon is undoubtedly a delectable spice, but the health benefits outweigh the aesthetic side of it. Cinnamon helps warm up the body from within, preparing it better for facing the bitter cold months, as it contains a compound called cinnamaldehyde.

Cinnamon also has remarkable properties that help prevent mucus in the respiratory tract within a few days of usage. It also has antiseptic properties for the body.

How to use:

If you are looking to extend your immunity tenfold without taking anti-flu medication or supplements, a warm glass of cinnamon honey water is just right for you. Drink it whenever you feel under the weather or if your throat needs some care and attention.

(For two cups)

1. Boil two cups of water.

2. Add two cinnamon sticks and turn off the heat.

3. Let it cool down slightly before pouring yourself a cup, and we recommend stirring in some honey before downing it for optimal benefits.

Ginger

Rather than rooting problems, ginger is the root for all solutions and the answer to all your flu-related issues. It is a diaphoretic, a substance that induces sweating, helping break fevers, and even painkillers don’t seem to do the job. Another attractive characteristic is how ginger reduces inflammation quickly and effectively, which soothes sore and itchy throats. Painkilling properties also add to the plethora of traits this specific herb contains.

How to use:

Ginger is a mild yet effective analgesic, so using it as a gargle is highly recommended for your post-flu throat itches. Yet, an intense chicken broth with a dash of grated ginger and a teaspoon of garlic may be a delightful flu remedy as well.

For the gargle:

1. Pour half a cup of warm water into a glass. 

2. Add in 1 tablespoon of ginger powder. (use freshly grated ginger if the powder is not available).

3. Use this mixture as a gargle as often as needed for easing an itchy or sore throat.

Mint

This particular herb is one that you may already be expecting to be on this list due to its exceptional and extensive abilities. Mint is widely known and is a tried and tested remedy for providing instant relief for stuffy noses and constant coughs, mainly to make decongestant balms and oils. The pain relief properties of mint are also spectacular, as the menthol compound in mint leaves is helpful for immediately soothing and relaxing both the mind and muscles of the body, and the aromaticity helping in the clearing of phlegm and mucus from the nose and chest.

How to use:

(For one cup of mint tea)

1. Add 1 ½ cups of water to a saucepan and bring to a boil.

2. Add a handful of mint leaves to boiling water and adjust the amount according to the required concentration.

3. Put one teaspoon of turmeric powder into a saucepan to let the tea brew.

4. Pour out the tea and drink immediately for maximum relief

Thyme

An often-overlooked herb, thyme is associated strongly with Italians and their pizza. But this small-leafed herb is packed full of nutrients and has vitamin C within its stems, which has a high rank in immunity boosters. Thyme, like mint, contains aromatic oils, which help in decongesting after a bout of flu or bronchitis. In addition, it aids in the expectorating process if you have a productive cough. 

How to use Thyme to Aid for Cold and Flu:

(For one mug of thyme tea)

1. Add two teaspoons of dried or fresh thyme leaves to a cup.

2. Add in freshly boiled water and cover with a lid.

3. After five minutes, uncover, squeeze in a few drops of lemon juice and drink away to your health!

Lemongrass

Lemongrass is a herb that barely needs any introduction for the people of East and West India, and now, the world has started to recognize just how vital this excellent root can be! Along with the anti-inflammation ability, lemongrass can help relieve stress, anxiety, and pain. It is also an antioxidant which is a plus point on its own. Lemongrass is proven to protect from infections as well, and the research done on it might not be that extensive yet, but it goes on to demonstrate its usefulness.

How to use Lemongrass to Aid for Cold and Flu:

Lemongrass is taken chiefly in the form of tea. Lemongrass can be a fantastic addition to your diet, beneficial for your health and taste buds. After buying it, follow these steps-

1. Boil a cup of water.

2. Immerse the stalks in it for a little while.

3. Now, strain out the water from the stalks.

4. Pour that water into your tea. You can also add ice to it.

Black pepper

Black pepper is probably one of the most commonly used spices in your kitchen cabinet. But it also contains insurmountable amounts of vitamin C, making it a natural immunity supplement used in everyday cooking. Black pepper, surprisingly, also works as an organic form of antibiotic, which makes it an indispensable front-line spice for the cold and flu season. The antiviral properties contained in it are immense and works wonders on coughs that won’t go away.

How to use Black Pepper to Aid for Cold and Flu:

(For natural cough medicine)

1. Heat 3-4 tablespoons of honey in a small saucepan over a low flame.

2. Turn off the flame as soon as bubbles start to form along the sides.

3. Add in 2-3 pinches of black pepper and salt into the honey.

4. Store the honey in a jar and eat it anytime you face stubborn flu.

Cardamom

The tiny green pods you’ve probably seen in masala chai recipes are the most significant source of antioxidants nature has to offer. Cardamoms are known as anti-mucus pods due to their oils, which help decongest and fight off flu and colds while also acting as strong antiseptics to get rid of germs multiplying in your throat, which are inevitable in winters.

How to use cardamom to Aid for Cold and Flu:

While a good strong cup of masala chai will do a whole lot of good to your body in cold months, you can get the most out of cardamom pods by chewing them whole. 

1. Bite into a pod and chew the seeds inside it. 

2. When you swallow them, they will give an instant soothing effect to your throat and combat your cold quicker.

3. However, you can always mix it up with something else or grind them and add them to your tea. Suit yourself because you should take it your way than not at all!

Nigella seeds

Looking at the small and unimpressive black seeds, you may not hold them up too much. But once you delve into the chemical properties of these seeds, you might think differently. The nigella seeds are actual powerhouses of nutrients and compounds that are frontline fighters against colds and flu and effective in almost every sphere of medical issues. In addition, they hold remedies for numerous disorders and diseases. These seeds are supplements that can have their ground in terms of vitamins and minerals, and rather than cures, they act more as vital preventatives.

How to use Nigella Seeds to Aid for Cold and Flu:

1. The most effective way for incorporating nigella seeds for cold and flu is by drinking a tablespoon of its cold-pressed oil every day in the morning

2. The phytochemicals in it will help with allergies, infections, and sinuses as well.

Where to Buy:

You can buy these Herbs and Spices online as well at any grocery store, or Mountain Rose Herb, or read more.

Note: Seek advice from your health practitioner before adding these herbs and spices to your diet. Because some herbs and spices might contraindicate with prescription medications.

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