Aloe Vera plants have been cultivated for almost all of recorded history in almost every nation. From Ancient Egypt to the Native American tribes, it was regarded as a marvelous healing plant with many useful properties. Even today it is included in many skin-care products and grown in many homes for uses in home remedies. Let’s take a look at this interesting little plant and see how you can have a few ready to assist you during a disaster!
Disclaimer: None of these statements have been endorsed or reviewed by the FDA. I am not a doctor or medical expert, and everything in this article is merely my opinion. If you plan on using Aloe Vera please talk with your doctor, and never cease any medical treatment in order to replace it with Aloe Vera unless directed. This advice, as always, is only intended for a post-disaster scenario when hospitals and medical aid are unavailable.
How to raise it
Aloe Vera is odd, in that the common plant that is sold in stores and grown for use in many homes is almost exclusively found in captivity. It is a benefit to you in the sense that the plant has been thoroughly adapted to being cared for by humans, but it is unlikely that most preppers would be able to find a “wild” Aloe Vera plant if they lacked one before a disaster struck. As such, you’ll have to purchase seeds or a plant.
Aloe Vera is a “succulent” plant, which means that it does better in hot and dry conditions since it is able to store liquid in the stem and leaves of the plant. As such, make sure that it gets full sun and well-drained, sandy soils or else it is likely to wilt from too much moisture. Be aware that short bursts of extreme heat (90-100 degree days with nonstop sunshine for example) could cause the plant to burn or wilt, so don’t go overboard on the sun.
For most of the United States outside of the far Southern states, you’ll need to keep Aloe Vera inside during the colder months. If you have frost or snow, definitely keep a cutting or two inside to ensure a nonstop source of supplies from the plant.
What makes it useful?
Most commonly, it is the gel that makes Aloe Vera such a great preparedness plant. It contains many antimicrobial properties in addition to being very soothing, making it a common home remedy for minor burns. The soothing alone makes it a common comfort application, being put on sore muscles or minor cuts and bruises purely for that cool sensation. The gel has also been used in many recipes owing to its gelling ability, but this usage is somewhat suspect. Some current studies claim that, although topical Aloe Vera is not known to cause harm there is a possibility that Aloe Vera that is ingested could be a carcinogen. Furthermore, Aloe Vera is known by many to have laxative properties, which has resulted in diarrhea in some who have eaten it. These studies are by no means conclusive, but be sure you take that potential risk into consideration before adding it to jelly or gumbo.
Regardless of the use you desire, the gel is very easy to acquire. Simply cut the tip off of any of the leaves of the Aloe Vera plant and squeeze a dollop of gel into your hands! Try to minimize constant cutting if possible, since overzealous trimming could leave the plant without sufficient leaf coverage and kill it. It will not last long even if you still have a fridge available (usually 1 week in the fridge) so harvest only as much gel as you need.
Aloe Vera is a valuable plant, and one that is cheap and easy to acquire. Make a point of keeping one around, just in case!
Any tips on caring for or harvesting Aloe Vera? Any additional uses you have for it? Let us know in the comments below!
This article first appeared at Prepared For That: Aloe Vera: How to Raise it and How to Use it For Survival