Aloe is a cactus-like plant that grows in hot, dry climates. In the United States, aloe is grown in Florida, Texas, and Arizona. Aloe produces two substances, gel and latex, which are used for medicines. Aloe gel is the clear, jelly-like substance found in the inner part of the aloe plant leaf. Aloe latex comes from just under the plant's skin and is yellow in color. Some aloe products are made from the whole crushed leaf, so they contain both gel and latex. The aloe that is mentioned in the Bible is an unrelated fragrant wood used as incense.
Aloe medications can be taken by mouth or applied to the skin. People take aloe gel by mouth for weight loss, diabetes, hepatitis, inflammatory bowel diseases, osteoarthritis, stomach ulcers, asthma, radiation-related skin sores, fever, itching and inflammation, and as a general tonic. A chemical in aloe called acemannan is taken by mouth for HIV/AIDS. Aloe extract is used for high cholesterol.
Aloe latex is taken by mouth mainly as a laxative for constipation. It is also used for seizures, asthma, colds, bleeding, lack of a menstrual period, swelling of the colon (colitis), depression, diabetes, eye conditions that cause blindness (glaucoma), multiple sclerosis, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, joint inflammation, osteoarthritis, and vision problems. Fresh aloe leaves are taken by mouth for cancer.
People apply aloe gel to the skin for acne, an inflammatory skin condition called lichen planus, inflammation in the mouth, burning mouth, radiation-induced skin damage, dental plaque, diaper rash, frostbite, gum disease, bedsores, scabies, dandruff, wound healing, hemorrhoids and pain after surgery to remove internal hemorrhoids, osteoarthritis, inflammation, and as an antiseptic. Aloe extract and aloe gel are also applied to the skin for genital herpes, scaly and itchy skin, burns, sunburns, and dry skin. Aloe extract is applied to the skin as an insect repellant. Aloe leaf juice is applied to the skin for anal fissures. A chemical in aloe called acemannan is applied to the skin for dry sockets in the mouth and canker sores.
How does it work?
The useful parts of aloe are the gel and latex. The gel is obtained from the cells in the center of the leaf; and the latex is obtained from the cells just beneath the leaf skin.
Aloe gel might cause changes in the skin that might help diseases like psoriasis.
Aloe seems to be able to speed wound healing by improving blood circulation through the area and preventing cell death around a wound.
It also appears that aloe gel has properties that are harmful to certain types of bacteria and fungi.
Aloe latex contains chemicals that work as a laxative.