There is one plant residing with us in the Shoebox at the moment. It is the lovely cactus-like Aloe vera. Amazingly, this little guy has stuck around for almost a year now and hasn’t passed away or sprouted legs and walked off. And for that, I love it. Because I’m a history nerd, I also think it’s cool that the plant has been used for countless remedies for over 6,000 years, dating back to early Egyptian civilization. It is known as the “plant of immortality,” and here are six reasons why you should keep an Aloe vera plant in your home.
1. Treating sunburns. This is the most obvious use because Aloe is famous for its skin-healing properties, most widely known for soothing effects of sunburn. It’s summertime, (surprise!), and if you’re pigmented like me, you’re prone to burning. It is helpful to have Aloe around to rub the green goo on a new burn.
2. Treating other ailments topically. Sunburn is just the beginning. Aloe has been known to banish bruises, soothe insect bites, treat acne, prevent scarring, reduce dandruff and even grow hair more quickly. I wipe the goo right on little baby bums that get a little raw from diaper rash; it helps to ease the redness. Check out this list of 40 uses.
3. Treating ailments orally. Aloe has strong laxative effects. It’s also been hailed as healer of arthritis, heartburn, congestion, even miraculous weight loss. I can’t personally attest to any of these, but I have friends who have had success with easing heartburn through drinking Aloe. A word of caution, though—in recent years health warnings have been issued about the dangers of drinking Aloe. (Carcinogenic activity was noted in test animals). Before you choose to jump in and buy a ton, ask your doctor first and do research for yourself about whether or not it is worth trying.
4. Freshening air. Like most plants, Aloe vera helps to clean the air. Aloe is reportedly most effective at clearing formaldehyde from air, making your home a safer place to breathe. How does formaldehyde get into the air, you wonder? According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the colorless (yet SO strong-smelling, if you remember junior year dissections) gas is used to make resins for pressed wood products. If you have wood paneling or particle board in your home, chances are this nasty gas is seeping out into your air.
5. Beautifying the home. Aloe is an attractive plant. I like the clean, smooth leaves and tiny white pokies. It adds a bit of exoticism to my home, and I like that.
6. Low maintenance care. It’s essentially a cactus, so if you forget about it for a week it still loves you. Just chop off the leaves at the base to use them. New ones sprout up in the middle in no time.
7. Playing pranks on family members. The leaves kind of look like lizard tails. (Oh, the possibilities!) A great April Fools joke (or an everyday joke, if your home is like ours) would be to cut off one of the little stems and strategically place it where it might appear a lizard is hiding. I tried this one on Caveman this past week—I placed the “tail” with the large end underneath the fridge and waited to hear a reaction. Nothing. Apparently I don’t keep my floors clean enough that a random large reptile-looking body part raises any red flags. I figure though, that if the “tail” had moved, I would have gotten a reaction. So here’s my suggestion: tie a piece of fishing line around the large end and stick it underneath the fridge, with just a portion of the “tail” showing. Put a piece of tape on the other end of the fishing line and tape it to the bottom of the fridge door. In theory, when someone opens the fridge door the “tail” will dart underneath. Now THAT’S a good prank. And clearly, it is the most compelling reason to buy an Aloe vera plant.