A Haitian Treasure: Lalwa (Aloe Vera)

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Aloe vera is a miracle plant. That much is true. 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.  The list goes on and on. 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 for gastrointestinal issues, while the gel from the center is used topically, for skin and hair issues. Collectively, it seems as if aloe vera cures everything.  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 lalwa.
Aloe 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 mother...or grandmother....or auntie 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 in a hot towel, and let it sit on your head for a while, and voila, all your head problems are gone!

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. Actually, we have about five. 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- anti-carcinogenic (Currently being studied)
  • 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 TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) AND Ayurveda, meaning that it has its uses on the bowel and in curing fevers
  • Promotes healthy skin; hydrates dry skin, restores softness, contains anti-aging properties
  • natural hair moisturizer that restores pH balance (best in juice form) and prevents hair loss
  • Aloe vera juice can increase your metabolism, making it good for weight control *I take shots of aloe vera juice occasionally as a nutritional supplement/detoxifier
  • Source of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E. Contains folic acid and Niacin

Some Uses:
  • Can treat burns and inflammation
  • Can help in retaining hair length
  • I like to add the juice to a mixture of water and essential oils as a hair spritz; I use the gel as a skin-soother when its irritated, as a moisturizing leave-in after I wash my hair, and as a moisturizer in conjunction with pure unrefined African Shea butter.
  • Prevents scarring, eczema, stretch marks and acne

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The "Haitian Treasures" series explores the magnificent benefits and uses of Haiti's natural resources, which I call "Haitian Treasures" because they are truly national gems.  Naïka in Balance is the premiere source for information on healing herbs used by Haitians. In this series, I explore the tie between Haiti's natural resources and natural, traditional, and holistic healing.

Learn about other Haitian Treasures explored on this blog here!

The two most popular Haitian Treasures on this blog are:

Castor oil/l'huile palma christi
Wonder of the world plant/fey lougawou

Naika, the writer of this blog, has a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and a Masters of Science in Acupuncture as of June 2017. Please do not take the information presented on this blog, as medical advice, without consulting your certified health care practitioner. Knowledge is power and your health is your wealth!