A plant originally found in Africa, aloe vera resembles a small lily, with green, thick, succulent, spiny leaves with nearly 25 leaves. This stem less shrub is used to make aloe-vera gel, aloe juice, latex, extract and capsules.
Aloe can be used externally in the treatment of scalds, skin irritation, burns, sunburn, eczema, ulcers, wounds, dermatitis, acne, psoriasis and to stimulate cell regeneration. Aloe gel when applied directly on the skin is acts as a very good softening agent making it very popular in cosmetic use. Aloe triggers the action of macrophages that fight bacterial infection in our body which means that it is an effective medicine for burns and wounds. It also ensures increased blood flow to affected areas facilitating healing. Carboxypeptidase and bradykininase, both enzymes contained in aloe reduce swelling, itching, inflammation and pain. In both traumatic and surgical wounds it has been found that wounds heal faster when treated with aloe. This could be because aloe contains vitamin E, C, zinc and polysaccharides which reduce inflammation and promote repair process.
Aloe juice heals minor wounds and insect bites by forming a natural layer of plaster over the injury. Its astringent and soothing qualities are effective on the skin and can also be used for hemorrhoids (piles). Studies have shown remarkable results for aloe controlling skin cancer and skin damage from various radiations using its antioxidant features. It is also used in the treatment of psoriasis, and eczema. Cases of amputation and tissue loss in patients with frost bite was reduced with the use of Aloe. Aloe-emodin, one of the components of aloe vera in addition to being an excellent laxative also kills herpes virus that results in painful cold sores and shingles. Aloe vera infused in base oils (almond apricot) is used in aroma therapy. Such treated oil presents emollient, astringent, anti fungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties.