Ice plant is called that way because it tends to glisten under the sun, courtesy of its fleshy leaves that are covered with tiny fibers. Although it is native to South Africa, ice plant is also grown in many parts of the globe with dry weather conditions, and in salty coastal environments. By the way, it is also sometimes referred to as “ice fig”.
There are many different species of ice plant, and the ones that belong to the delosperma genus are those that are used for treating and preventing a number of health problems. Some of the ice plant varieties that are often employed by traditional healers include purple hardy ice plant, yellow hardy ice plant and orange ice plant.
Various parts of ice plant can be utilized for medicinal purposes, such as the fruits, sap and leaves. By the way, the leaves of the said herb can be consumed as a vegetable — raw, cooked or fermented — other than for healing. The following are just a few of the many different medicinal uses of ice plant:
UV Ray Protection
Did you know that there are a number of sunscreens with ice plant extract in them as it offers protection from harmful UV rays given off by the sun? What’s more, various ointments and creams for sunburn also contain the said extract as it’s very effective in soothing achy and damaged skin caused by too much exposure to the sun.
Relief From Minor Skin Problems
One of the most popular traditional uses of ice plant is for the treatment of minor skin problems. The sap of ice plant is the one that is particularly used for such. The sap of the herb may also be added to bathwater, which is recommended for soothing large areas of the body that are irritated.
Skin Inflammation Control
Traditional healers also rely on ice plant, in particular its sap, in dealing with various inflammatory conditions of the skin. Active biological compounds present in it are capable of controlling inflammation. As a matter of fact, some of the most effective topical solutions for psoriasis and other related skin conditions have ice plant sap in them.
Improvement of Cardiovascular Health
Since there are compounds in ice plant that are very good at putting an end to inflammation, the herb is also used for promoting a healthier cardiovascular system. It is said that the use of ice plant can help in keeping high blood pressure at bay as well as lowering the levels of bad cholesterol.
Respite From Oral Problems
Chewing on the tip of an ice plant leaf is a well-known remedy for oral sores. Sometimes the juice of the leaves may be directly applied onto oral sores for a speedier healing process. Gargling with the said juice is also traditionally done for attaining relief from a sore throat and other infections pertaining to the oral cavity.
Treatment of Constipation
Another very common medicinal use of ice plant is for the relief of constipation. The fruit of the herb is the one that is employed as it has laxative properties, and it is turned into juice. People who are prone to constipation may consume ice plant fruit on a regular basis to encourage the evacuation of the bowels.
Pulmonary Tuberculosis Control
Other than for relieving constipation, the juice of the ice plant fruit is also known to be an effective solution for pulmonary tuberculosis, which is a contagious bacterial infection of the lungs. Traditional healers usually add olive oil and honey to the said juice to make it more effective at dealing with pulmonary tuberculosis.
Just like when trying out any other herb, it’s always a good idea to let a doctor know about your plan on using ice plant beforehand. Pregnant or nursing women should avoid using it for medicinal purposes. The same is true for those who are diagnosed with certain conditions and are taking prescription medications.