Not So Great Gatsby: Allegedly Aloe Verifiably Vera

aloeWhen I was a kid, we didn’t have no insurance. We didn’t have a damn thing. You had to be damn near dead to see the doctor. You had to be way past Robitussin. That’s all we had when I was a kid: Robitussin. No matter what you got, Robitussin better handle it.

 “Daddy, I got asthma.” “Robitussin.”

 “I got cancer.” “Robitussin.” 

I broke my leg, Daddy poured Robitussin on it. 

”Yeah, boy, let that ‘tussin get in there. “Yeah, boy, let that ‘tussin 
get on down to the bone. The ‘tussin ought to straighten out the bone. It’s good.”

 If you run out of ‘tussin, put some water in the jar, shake it up! MO’ ‘TUSSIN! MO’ ‘TUSSIN! 

-Chris Rock “Bigger and Blacker”

Now, I didn’t grow up in the same circumstances as Chris Rock.  Don’t get me wrong, we were pretty poor at the time, but instead of ‘Tussin, my mother’s miracle cure of choice was aloe vera. If you had a sunburn, bug bite, scrape or rash, out came the gloppy green goo, which she bought by the case at the CVS outlet store, Mark Stevens, or at the Job Lot. See, although this elixir would cure anything that ailed you, my mother thought it sacrilegious to ever pay more than $3 for it. It keeps your skin toned, pores clear and your eyebrows shiny!


As I got older, they even came out with an ingestible aloe vera. My mother said, “It cures your insides.” It tasted kinda like plant juice and claimed to cure just about everything including diabetes, asthma, epilepsy and osteoarthritis. So I drank it and lathered it on my skin after a day in the sun. If I broke a bone I am sure it would have been a coin flip decision as to whether I drank the aloe to cure the break or just poured the gel on the break to regenerate the bone, Wolverine style. Luckily, I never faced such a choice, but I lived life recklessly, without fear, because I knew in my heart that any ailment was no match for the inside-outside attack of the all powerful aloe vera.

I still keep a bottle of aloe vera gel under the sink in the bathroom. I got a sunburn yesterday and I instinctually reached for it and started smearing it all over myself like some sun drenched red zombie preparing to set the land speed record on the backyard slip and slide. After I was finished, I sat down in that “post aloe” position, the one where none of your body parts can touch any of the others until you have completely dried, and I thought to myself, “Does this stuff even work? Is there any proof?” I blew on my index finger until it hardened with a technicolor green shell and Googled it.

On the site for the Mayo Clinic, there is some evidence that aloe, or the suburban ‘Tussin, cures the following: constipation, genital herpes (if you are having sex with someone rubbing aloe on his genital herpes, first, STOP!  DON’T HAVE SEX WITH SOMEONE WITH GENITAL HERPES!! But if you have to, don’t have sex with someone with genital herpes who treats it the same way you treat a sunburn!), psoriasis (skin disease), seborrheic dermatitis (seborrhea, dandruff), cancer prevention (STOP IT! IT DOES NOT! I am not even close to being a doctor but this can’t be right), canker sores, common cold / upper respiratory tract infection (move over ‘Tussin!), dental conditions, dental plaque (just swish it around in your mouth before you spit it back on your bug bite!), diabetes, dry mouth, dry skin, gum disease, high cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis), itching, lichen planus (this is small purple bumps on your leg, mouth or genitals. You are probably gross if you have it in all three places), scabies (again, if you are scabies level gross you may as well have an aloe gel coating between you and the world), skin burns, skin damage caused by the sun, skin inflammation (tungiasis), diaper rash, heart disease, HIV infection (stop it), liver disease (seriously, stop it), pressure ulcers, radiation dermatitis (skin damage from radiation exposure) and wound healing.

And that was the Mayo Clinic. It is the most trusted medical clinic that also just happens to be named after an incredibly unhealthy condiment. Every single claim was supported by a statement that “more evidence is needed.” EVERY SINGLE ONE. Even sunburns! So while we can assuredly cement aloe vera’s place at the pinnacle of suburban miracle cures, you should always take the medical claims of what it can do with a healthy grain of salt. And then wash down that salt with some aloe vera, cause you know salt is going to make you thirsty, and guess what cures thirst?!?