How to Use Aloe and Cactus to Heal Wounds and Diabetes

I am like the dad in the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” except instead of Windex I often yell, “Put some salve on it!”  It is my go-to for everything.  My daughter and I make a fine pain salve.  It literally heals everything from nerve pain to sun burn.  I have an intense skin salve that heals irritated and damaged skin…unless the patient keeps scratching!

Doug gets some pretty wicked patches of eczema in the winter.  As if it weren’t dry enough here in Colorado, winters are filled with forced hot air from furnaces that further leave our throats parched and skin in shambles if we don’t moisturize every day (with our lotion, of course). http://whitewolfherbs.com

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Here it is July and one patch on Doug’s leg is not going away.  “Did you put salve on it?” I holler from the next room.  “Yes” is always the response but I know he is not applying it as much as he needs.  And it itches, so he scratches.

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It now looks like I threw a kettle of boiling water on his leg now.  (I didn’t.)  The heat was gently rising from it yesterday.  So, I took over treatment.  Thank goodness I am an herbalist.  I gave him a shot glass of infection killing herbal extract and set to work cutting two pieces of aloe open long ways.

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After about ten minutes the heat was gone from his leg and the gel was saturating into the wounded skin.  I cut off the end of a sock and had him wear the tube around his leg.  He put salve on it this morning.  I will continue working on it and he should be healed in no time.

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The same gel that is found in aloe vera is found in some cacti, particularly prickly pear, which is very common around these parts.  Our new farm that we are moving to has a bit of it.  I dream of prickly pear margaritas in the summer on the porch watching the sun set behind the mountains.  (It’s medicinal, folks.)  We had so much rain this year that the cacti flowered majestically and there will surely be fruit now to juice.

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Nopales are found in many grocery stores.  They are the fronds of de-spiked prickly pear used in many Mexican dishes.  Succulents and cacti heal themselves by sealing the wounded end with their own gel.  That gel is what we are using to heal wounds.  The gel inside prickly pear and aloe vera is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-biotic, anti-fungal, anti-parasitic, and demulcent (meaning gelatinous and soothing).  Scrape the gel from the pods and use.  Careful with store bought aloe vera gel, it is often full of chemicals.

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Aloe Vera and Prickly Pear have another super power.  That same gel helps stabilize blood sugars and offers pancreatic support.  Simply place a six inch piece cut in half into a quart jar.  (Please use gloves if you are harvesting prickly pear.  Took me a month to get all those thorns out of my hand!)  Add a cinnamon stick, 3 bay leaves, the peel of an organic orange, a 1 inch knob of ginger, and a 1/2 inch knob of turmeric.  1 Tablespoon of Ginseng will really help because it is an adaptogen (helps heal organs).  It is, however, endangered and mighty expensive.

Now fill this concoction with vodka or rum.  Sit it in the window for a week and then place in a cupboard or somewhere you won’t forget for another three weeks.  I put mine out in the full moon.  It does make a difference.  Do not strain it out.  Let it keep brewing.  The dose for diabetes is 1 teaspoon a day.  One can check their blood sugar, take a teaspoon of medicine, then check it again in 15 minutes.  It works that fast!  (I have to do the obligatory statement of I am not a doctor, stay on your medicines, talk to your doctor…yadiyadiya.) I have two more recipes for Diabetes and a miracle wound healer in my book, The Homesteader’s Pharmacy

An aloe vera plant in the window is good practice for any homesteader and a prickly pear in the yard is lucky…unless you step on it.

Falling in Love with Cactus at the Torta Grill

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We were forty-five minutes early so we walked to the nearest restaurant to grab something to eat.  We went into a small shop with a counter and a smaller counter by the window.  An entrepreneur’s dream with open kitchen and a simple but dazzling menu.  Our first thought is that Shyanne would love this place.  She is an artist and draws the ladies from the Day of the Dead.  The décor would have pleased her.  The young woman and man behind the counter spoke easy Spanish and English.  They both were smiling and helpful, explaining what the sandwiches were and the options.

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The Torta Grill’s specialty is what they call “authentic Mexican sandwiches”.  Now, y’all know I am not a fan of sandwiches.  These were a far cry from the ham and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, or turkey and cheese of our culture.  We stood looking up at the menu on the wall, taking in the slight cool breeze from the sweltering outdoors, and tried to decide.  The first line I read was “Enrique- eggs, cactus, panela cheese, crushed red peppers, and more cheese.”  I needed to look no further.

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The bread was similar to ciabatta but a bit softer, grilled to a perfect brown on the open grill.  He layered on a smear of black beans to one side and light, sweet mayo on the other.  Juicy, cut very thin tomatoes and marinated red onion topped the mayo side.  Then cold avocado, fresh, and flavorful topped that.  On the other side of the grill he was busy sautéing the eggs, cactus, and cheese.  He placed them on the bread, put it all together and sliced it deftly.  It was a thing of messy beauty.

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I was five bites in before I just took a fork to the thing pulling out separate components and dipping them in a hot, smoky chipotle sauce.  The cactus tasted like a sweeter green pepper, and wrapped in hot cheese made it irresistible.  I had the mini sandwich that was under five bucks and it filled me up.  Doug had an egg, steak, and cheese sandwich that I would love to tell you about it but while I was savoring chipotle and cactuses in silent bliss Doug devoured his.  These sandwiches were good.

The highlight of the Torta Grill was the juice offerings.  We had been walking a lot in a hundred degree heat and those thirty-two ounce drinks caught our attention immediately.  Doug had cucumber lemonade, perfect for a summer day.  I fell for a huge thing of horchata.  The cinnamon spiked milky drink was cold and delicious.

One of the positives of our current homeless, jobless situation is that we have been able to enjoy summer.  Every day for the past six years we stood on hot pavement under a farmer’s market tent, or watering our gardens, or milking goats, or making products for our Apothecary, or running our store.  This summer, while we can, we are playing in sprinklers with our granddaughter, swimming, hiking, visiting friends, and eating new things in new places, like cactus and panela in chipotle.  You must try this place if you are downtown!

The Torta Grill

1818 East Colfax Avenue

Denver, Co