Aloe vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 60–100 cm (24–39 in) tall, spreading by offsets. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with some varieties showing white flecks on the upper and lower stem surfaces.
Aloe vera, also known as the medicinal aloe, is a species of succulent plant that probably originated in Northern Africa, the Canary islands and Cape Verde. Aloe vera grows in arid climates and is widely distributed in Africa and other arid areas. The species is frequently cited as being used in herbal medicine. Many scientific studies of the use of aloe vera have been undertaken, some of them conflicting. Despite these limitations, there is some preliminary evidence that Aloe vera extracts may be useful in the treatment of wound and burn healing, diabetes and elevated blood lipids in humans.
Topical Uses: Burn healing, Wound healing, Sunburn, Radiation-induced skin reactions, Genital herpes, Psoriasis
Oral Uses: Ulcers, Diabetes, Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Immune Support, Constipation
- Traditionally, aloe was used topically to heal wounds and for various skin conditions, and orally as a laxative.
- Today, in addition to traditional uses, people take aloe orally to treat a variety of conditions, including diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, and osteoarthritis. People use aloe topically for osteoarthritis, burns, and sunburns.
- Aloe vera gel can be found in hundreds of skin products, including lotions and sunblocks.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved aloe vera as a natural food flavoring.
Scientific evidence for the cosmetic and therapeutic effectiveness of Aloe vera is limited and when present is typically contradictory. Despite this, the cosmetic and alternative medicine industries regularly make claims regarding the soothing, moisturising and healing properties of Aloe vera, especially via Internet advertising. Aloe vera gel is used as an ingredient in commercially available lotion, yogurt, beverages and some desserts. Aloe vera juice is used for consumption and relief of digestive issues such as heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome. It is common practice for cosmetic companies to add sap or other derivatives from Aloe vera to products such as makeup, tissues, moisturizers, soaps, sunscreens, incense, razors and shampoos. Other uses for extracts of Aloe vera include the dilution of semen for the artificial fertilization of sheep, use as fresh food preservative, and use in water conservation in small farms.
Aloe vera is alleged to be effective in treatment of wounds. Topical application of Aloe vera may be effective for genital herpes and psoriasis. Aloe vera extracts have antibacterial and antifungal activities. Aloe vera extracts have been shown to inhibit the growth of fungi that cause tinea.
How Aloe Vera Is Used
- Aloe leaves contain a clear gel that is often used as a topical ointment.
- The green part of the leaf that surrounds the gel can be used to produce a juice or a dried substance (called latex) that is taken by mouth.
Aloe vera side effects: Overall, there are not really any significant side effects to aloe vera, especially if it is used on the skin. Be sure that the aloe vera gel that you are applying is clean (you don’t want to put dirt in a wound or on a burn).
If you are drinking the gel, it can cause cramping and diarrhea. There is also some evidence that aloe vera juice and powder can lower blood sugar, a big concern for diabetics using aloe vera.