A Haitian Treasure: Lalwa (Aloe Vera)

Cultivated and respected all over the world, aloe vera treats everything from minor burns and skin irritations, to inflammation and arthritis, to diabetes, herpes and constipation. Each part of the aloe vera plant actually has its own distinct use.  Traditionally, the yellow sap that comes out of the skin is used to treat gastrointestinal issues, while the gel from the center is used topically, for skin and hair issues. 

Aloe plants do best in warm tropical climates, so it should be no surprise that the plant grows abundantly in Haiti!  In Haiti, aloe is called lalwaAloe is the epitome of a Haitian treasure. You can find this beautiful plant in homes and public spaces all over the country, where it serves both ornamental and medicinal purposes.

In Haiti, aloe is commonly used to treat burns, cuts, and most notably, indigestion.  Many of my friends and family members tell me of the time when their female elders gave them a spoon of aloe vera to "improve their digestion", and they've all commented on the striking bitterness of the plant, which I personally can attest to. Additionally, I have heard of compresses being made with the plant to rid people of headaches and fevers. You just peel the skin of the aloe, place it on a hot towel, and place the towel on your head for a while, and voila, sweet relief.

Haiti isn't the world's largest producer of aloe vera, but the plant definitely grows in abundance in the country and is a popular home remedy. You'd better believe I have my own aloe vera plant in my house. They're huge and they're everywhere and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Key Constituents:
  • Aloectin B- stimulates immune system
  • Anthraquinones- stimulates digestive system
  • Aloin- potentially anti-carcinogenic
  • Chrysophanic acid- heals abrasions and wounds
Some Benefits:
  • Regulates Digestive Health and Immune system health
  • Anti-asthmatic, antiseptic, cathartic
  • Natural laxative and purgative
  • Has "cooling" properties according to Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda
  • Promotes healthy skin; hydrates dry skin, restores softness, contains anti-aging properties
  • Natural hair moisturizer that restores pH balance and prevents hair loss; best in juice form
  • Can increase your metabolism,
  • Source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E. Contains folic acid and Niacin

Suggested Uses:
  • Apply topically to treat minor burns and inflammation
  • As a hair treatment
  • As a wellness beverage

In health,
Dr. Naika

The "Haitian Treasures" series was created by Dr. Naika in 2012. This series explores the magnificent benefits and uses of Haiti's natural resources, which Dr. Naika calls "Haitian Treasures". In this series, Dr. Naika explores the tie between Haiti's natural resources and natural, traditional, and holistic healing.

This blog post was originally posted on Dr. Naika's lifestyle blog, Naika in Balance. Dr. Naika's work is copyrighted. Please do not copy or repost Dr. Naika's work without citing her content as the original source.