Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Using Aloe to Treat Burns

The internet is full of information about the wonders of the aloe plant. It can be used as a digestive aid, as a source of vitamins and minerals (vitamin A, C, E, B3, B6 and even B12), it can be used for detoxifying, and as an immune booster.

It is aloe's ability to heal and rejuvenate the skin that I appreciate on a regular basis. As a chid visiting Hawaii with my family I became aware of aloe for skin burns. It seemed like each trip someone in the family would get a sun burn because people were not aware of the impact of sun damage as we are today. In fact, I don't remember using sunscreen with anything stronger than SPF 6 growing up. Luckily the complex where we stayed had aloe vera growing in the gardens so my mother would cut off a small piece, open up the stalk and rub the gel on our tender, stinging skin.

I have three aloe plants growing in my front, south facing window for first aid purposes today. In the fall my nine year old was helping me chop ingredients for my fire cider, and she forgot to wash her hands after cutting up red hot peppers. Unfortunately she touched her eye and immediately regretted it. She was wailing in agony from the burning and stinging. A little bit of the aloe gel rubbed on her eye gave her instant cooling relief. We reapplied the aloe gel an hour later when the burning sensation began to return and then she was fine.

This week I noticed that we are almost out of my fire cider. Even though it has a very strong odour (the onions and horseradish will do that), it is delicious as a salad dressing when mixed with oil. I decided to prepare some more fire cider for us and set about chopping up the ingredients.
My fire cider all prepared and ready to infuse the apple
cider vinegar for a few weeks.

I should have realized how hot the red peppers were when I rinsed them out after removing the seeds. My throat choked up when I breathed in. Yes, they were that hot, which I hope will make a delicious and potent fire cider.

When I finished chopping up all the ingredients and placing them in the glass jars with apple cider vinegar, I dutifully washed my hands. I gave them two very good scrubbings with dish soap to ensure we wouldn't have a repeat of what happened to my daughter.

Rubbing the aloe gel on my hands.
Unfortunately this wasn't enough, because when I sat down to respond to my students' new year journal entries, my hands began to sting. At first I didn't realize what was going on. Then when the sting became a searing burn. I was in agony! Luckily my daughter reminded me of how we treated her eye because in my pain I forgot about the aloe in my living room. She had to help me open doors and drawers because my hands hurt too much to touch anything.

After cutting the stalk off the plant and removing the spiky sides with a knife, I sliced it open length-wise. I applied the gel directly to my skin and slathered it all over my hands, front and back. The gel is cool and soothing and my hands felt much better. Later that night I had to reapply when the burning sensation started returning, but then it felt fine.

If there is any left over aloe I recommend removing it from the green part of the plant and putting it in a sealed jar so that it doesn't dry out and it is ready for the next skin emergency.

Next time I make my fire cider, or anything else with hot peppers, I think I will wear gloves!

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