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15 Sep 2019, Edition - 1524, Sunday

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Coimbatore

Aloe vera: A herb of choice

Umaima Shafiq

The green leafy aloe vera shrub (family name lilliaceae) is fast becoming a herb of choice for its medicinal properties in treating ailments and injuries, both internal and external. Coimbatore has many nurseries selling it and Pollachi is one of the main regions producing aloe vera in Tamil Nadu.

R Sharada, owner of the six-year-old GCT Nature’s Products at Sarvanampatti has nearly 136 herbal products for aloe vera and other herbs. She tells The Covaipost, “It is a multi-purpose herb and its gel is the main ingredient extracted and used for our products. As gels and creams, aloe vera is used in skincare to treat black marks, pimples, blemishes and skin rashes. It is also a prime ingredient for hair growth and we have it as shampoos and powders. Aloe vera application can increase hair growth faster than any other herb. We have also begun adding fruit extracts of cucumber, papaya, strawberry and others to our aloe vera gels. This has increased our customer base, because the products are chemical free.”

She adds that consumption of aloe vera as powder or liquid removes body toxins, keeps the body cool, controls debilitating diseases, helps digestion and is a good laxative.

V Anand Kumar owner of Tamara Nursery at Kurumbapalayam, Kalapatti tells The Covaipost, “Aloe vera is a hardy shrub and requires very little water or fertilisers. It originated in Africa and Mediterranean countries and was brought to India through trade. It grows well in north India’s arid regions like Rajasthan and Gujarat. In the South it is found in Andhra Pradesh and some parts of Tamil Nadu. It needs well-drained loamy soil. Its optimum planting season is June/ July and September / October. It can be harvested within 6-7 months and gels of both leaves and flowers can be used. Extraction should be done within six hours of harvest. It contains glucosides mixture that help to cure asthma, jaundice and nervous weakness. Our nursery sells around 500 saplings every month. It is an easy herb to grow and perfectly harmless to consume. Also one fully grown shrub has new shoots that sprout into another shrub. So it is very cost effective.”

Sharada agrees and says she studied courses from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), besides getting expertise from an Ayurveda doctor before manufacturing. “I constantly update about aloe vera online as its medicinal properties seem boundless. Today, I have nearly 5,000 customers for our fruit-based aloe gel. I advise all aspiring entrepreneurs and job seekers to set up small businesses with easy herbs such as aloe vera. It requires minimum investment, space and care but gives good profits and great benefit to all.”

An upcoming variant is red aloe vera, which is supposed to have twice more medicinal properties but commercial use is restricted and under scientific research in India.

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