As we move into summer, the season of sunburn, insect bites, and various other scrapes and scratches, parents can take this opportunity to teach children the value of herbs and holistic healing. Aloe Vera is one of the best places to start.

From the healing aspect, aloe vera has been used for over 3500 years. The gel, contained inside the leaves is regarded as one of the best natural moisturizers available. Cleopatra felt aloe was from "the fountain of youth" and used it to protect her skin form the harsh Egyptian sun. Dioscorides, the Greek physician, used aloe to treat everything from constipation to burns to kidney ailments. Today, we find that almost every health and beauty product has a version that contain aloe. There are many studies being conducted on the use of aloe for burn victims.

Aloe gel is commonly used to treat sunburns, insect bites and minor scrapes and scratches. It is cool and soothing for sunburned skin. Its natural moisturizing properties help the skin heal as well as cool the burn.

As first aid treatment for those minor scrapes, aloe vera is one of the best available. A quality gel product will not contain alcohols, and therefore not cause the stinging and burning sensation other products may cause. The thickness of the gel can also aid in stopping bleeding. (Aloe vera should not be used in place of an antiseptic.) After the injury is cleaned and treated as needed, aloe gel can be put on to help protect it and to speed the healing process.

Most aloe vera gel products are non-toxic. This makes them a good choice to include in your child's own first aid kit or in with camping gear. When choosing a product, be sure to read the ingredients and find a product which lists aloe as a primary ingredient. It should be listed first or second ingredient.

Aloe vera can also be found in many dental products for soothing of the gums. Radiation and Chemotherapy patients may find it very soothing for month irritations.

Aloe gel can also be obtained by growing your own plant. The plants are readily available and quite easy to grow. Being a desert plant, they are hardy and require very little water or special care.

A leaf from the plant can be removed near the base and split open. Inside the somewhat tough exterior is the precious aloe vera gel. The gel can be applied to the skin directly from the leaf or be scrapped from it and refrigerated for later use.

By growing their own aloe plants, children can be taught the responsibility of taking care of a plant and learn what valuable contributions plants make to our lives and our health.

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