From ArticleWorld

Aloe (of the Asphodelaceae family) is a genus of flowering succulent plants containing about 400 different species. Native to the drier parts of Africa, the plants are characterized by their grey-green thick, fleshy leaves which are spiky along the edges and end in a sharp point. Their flowers are small, tubular and either yellow or red.

Aloe is popular in alternative medicine and as a home remedy. Its glutinous inner pulp and thick yellow resin can be applied to skin complaints or as a mixture to be taken internally, mainly for its laxative effects. While its benefits as a topical healer of skin complaints have been proven, its usefulness in the treatment of other ailments has yet to be established to the satisfaction of all.

There is one area where the effectiveness of aloe vera has been well-documented and that is on burns. As well as easing the pain and reducing inflammation, application of the resin speeds up the healing process, by as much as 6 days as shown in one study (Farrar, 2005). Ancient civilizations such as the Mayas and the Incas used aloe vera to ease sunburn, a practice still popular in the 21st century.

Healing effects

The healing effects of aloe vera are quite remarkable. When applied to minor cuts, the skin is sealed by the resin and pulled back together as if stitched. It also acts as an antiseptic and moisturizer. Aloe gel can be used to treat dry skin, eczema and even some fungal infections such as ringworm. When buying products advertised as containing aloe, however, it is advisable to ensure that they contain at least 25%. It is only then that the product will contain sufficient aloe vera to benefit the skin.

Taken internally, aloe is said to benefit coughs, wounds, ulcers, gastritis, diabetes, cancer and many other ailments. The only proven effect, however, is that of a laxative. It is also worth noting that not all species are beneficial; some, in fact, are poisonous when ingested.