An unexpected member of the lily family, aloe vera has been called the “natural healer” and a “miracle plant”. The aloe vera plant has thick fleshy green leaves that secrete a clear gel used in medicinal preparations dating back to ancient cultures. The earliest confirmed record of aloe was found on a Sumarien tablet from 2100 BC, but it is believed a detailed description of aloe preparations was found on an Egyptian document dated at 1550 BC.
Two forms of aloe vera are traditionally used for healing and health: the gel and juice. Aloe vera gel is the jelly-like substance removed from the inner part of the leaf, while aloe juice is extracted by soaking and softening the entire leaf then filtering out unwanted materials. Aloe latex, a yellow-brown substance found under the plant’s skin, can be used for some applications, but there is little evidence aloe latex provides the health benefits of the gel or juice.
The aloe plant is approximately 99% water. Healing compounds found in aloe gel are polysaccharides and glycoproteins. Polysaccharides are said to stimulate skin growth and repair, and glycoproteins can speed the healing process by stopping pain and inflammation. Aloe vera is said to reduce pain and inflammation as well as stimulate healing when applied topically. Antidotal and historical evidence suggests aloe to be favored for the following skin care concerns:
Soothing sunburns is the most popular use for aloe products because people find aloe and aloe products to be cooling....