The Amazing Truth About Aloe Vera, the Potted Physician

Updated on May 10, 2020
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna writes about the care of plants (indoors, outdoors, and in gardens). She wrote an orchid care booklet—a companion piece for workshops.


Aloe Vera Gel for Sunburns

The first time I came across an aloe vera plant was when my boyfriend offered it as a treatment for my sunburn. He spent the whole day with me at the lake and felt responsible for my painful state. He sweetly rubbed the aloe vera gel on my body.

In all, I felt a great deal of relief and loved the attention I was getting from my boyfriend. My interest was piqued, and I researched and discovered aloe vera is not just for sunburns.

The unassuming plant is a natural healing agent and has a lengthy list of historical references for medicinal purposes.

For eras, herbal doctors and medical practitioners have considered aloe vera as a medicinal plant or "the potted physician." Related medical journals report, the plant has noticeably reduced surgery convalescent time, efficiently treated intestinal health problems, and inhibited and relieved arthritis.


Historical Remedy

Alexander the Great conquered many parts of Africa to retain the aloe plant to mend his injured men.

In 1935, the aloe plant was extremely victorious in remedying skin lesions produced by X-rays.

Gel From The Plant

The aloe vera plant solely presents potent restorative effects formed naturally, as healing should be. The green daggered-shaped leaves are teeming with a clear gel. The gel contains 96% water and 4% comprising of 75 known ingredients that heal the body.

Aloe gel is a mild analgesic when smeared on wounds. It alleviates itching as well as swelling and soreness. It is even an antiseptic while increasing the blood flow to injured areas so they can heal.

The medicinal plant also supports fibroblasts because of the enzymes in the plant. Fibroblasts are skin cells in charge of healing wounds. The gel helps heal wounds by supporting the fibroblasts.

The gel that is taken straight from the daggered-shape leaf is the best aloe gel for treating injuries. Any unused portion keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of days. The gel sold in stores claims a percentage of aloe vera is good but is not a valid alternative. The gel straight from the plant works best.

Growing Aloe Vera Plant

Keeping your aloe vera plant healthy is as vital as using your plant for healing wounds. Aloe vera flourishes on lack of attention, but the tropical or subtropical indigenous cannot endure temperatures below 40 degrees F. Even the lightest frost reduces the green plant to a blackened, discharge of dead flesh. A local nursery lined up a box of aloe vera plants for free because they were frostbitten. I took one and nursed it back to health. I planted it in an area that tucks it away from the frost.

For the most part, the reports I have read say the plant thrives in a bright area without direct sunlight. The plant likes to rest in well-drained and porous—a sandy but coarse soil that’s not overly rich.


Vibrant Flowers

Recommendations are to water the plant two times a month and once a week when the climate is warmer. My aloe vera gets watered more often during the summer because other plants, needing water, surround my aloe, and the plant is in direct sunlight. Keep in mind, poor drainage or overwatering is its worse enemy.

Aloe vera is not a succulent or cactus, but part of the lily family. Aloe vera flowers are a vibrant and surprising addition to the foliage. In March and April, you will see yellow flowers. Some even are known to sprout shades of orange, pink, red, gray, and white. The buds begin as a spike, and progressively, they get larger and lastly open. The blooms last a good, long time. The beauty of the flowers is a wonder to witness.

Attracts Hummingbirds

The aloe vera flowers are favorites of hummingbirds. If the plant is outside, listen and watch for the buzz of those lovely creatures.


Easy Plant to Grow

The aloe vera is not difficult to grow if you follow these basic rules:

  • Make available plenty of area for the plant’s root ball to grow. Aloes are limitless growers and need a large area to grow. When repotting the plant, keep this rule in mind. The plant needs a growth area so the root ball can extend three to five times its size.
  • The plant requires well-drained and porous soil.
  • Most aloe vera plants grow between April and October, accordingly water consistently with that in mind. Water when the soil is dry. If in doubt, it is best not to water.
  • Fertilize the plants two times a month from April until the end of September, using a low-nitrogen fertilizer that is heavily diluted.
  • Various aloe vera plants propagate by producing offshoots from the side of the plant. They are called “pups.” You gently separate it from its parent when the pup thoroughly develops. The pup needs a couple of days for the severed area to callous over. A dry, cool location that is not hot. Place the new plant in a pot with lots of room to grow. Sometimes the plant will grow roots right away. If that is the case, you pot the plant as an adult. If there are no roots, avoid watering until the roots form. Misting every couple of days is fine. After the plant’s roots emerge, which takes about a month, and the plant has grown some, you can water it.

Take Care of Your Plant

There are limited plants like the aloe vera that are easy to grow and easy to use for medicinal functions. Just keep in mind, if you take care of your plant, it will help take care of you.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

  • Your article is helpful. How do you know when you are overwatering your Aloe Vera plant?

    It is best to water less than more. Aloes like it dry, so if the soil around the plant is moist, then you have overwatered your plant. No worries, just let the soil dry out completely before watering your plant again. When you do water your plant, it is best to use very little water.

© 2018 Kenna McHugh


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    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      8 months ago from Northern California


      The blooms are gorgeous but short-lived.

    • Babu Mohan profile image

      Mohan Babu 

      8 months ago from Chennai, India

      I never knew Aloe Vera flowers attract humming birds. We have a couple of these plants but they are yet to bloom.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      2 years ago from Northern California

      I have always grown my aloes in pots. Recently a nursery gave some little ones away. They looked like the frost got to them. I snatched one and literally tossed it into my plant bed in a protected spot from frost. I didn't think it would live because the frost had burned it pretty good. It's been there for two months and is flourishing.

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      A neat look at the Aloe Vera plant. It really is an amazing plant on every level. Thanks for the reminder that I need to get some started, and for the potting info as that's how I would have to grow them.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      2 years ago from Northern California

      You're welcome, anytime.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      2 years ago from Ohio

      That is very helpful. Thank you. :)

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      2 years ago from Northern California

      I am not sure if dogs and cats get along with aloe vera plants. I don't see why not because the plant is edible. There are animal products, like soaps and such, for dogs and cats that have aloe vera as one of the ingredients. I hope this is helpful. Thanks for visiting.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      2 years ago from Ohio

      I think I need to get some aloe vera plants. I worry about plants because of my pets. Is it OK for dogs and cats to nibble at?

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      2 years ago from Northern California

      I have potted Aloes because it gets cold where I live, too. The plants do flower better outdoors in the subtropics or tropics.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      2 years ago from California Gold Country

      What an interesting and informative article. I lived in So Cal for most of my life, so have had many Aloes in my yards, but never really took advantage of the medicinal advantages. I'm going to try to get a potted one. We do have periods of frost and freeze where I am now.

    • Kenna McHugh profile imageAUTHOR

      Kenna McHugh 

      2 years ago from Northern California

      Thelma, the Philippines is perfect for growing aloe plants. I didn't mention using them in smoothies. I don't know why. This true. Thank you for bringing it to our attention, and I appreciate the read and comment.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      2 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      I have aloe vera plants in my garden in the Philippines and they are indeed easy to take care of. I use the aloe gelly for many things line mixing it with other fruits as smoothie drink. Thanks for sharing.


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