It is used fresh, added to lotions, dried, and as extracts (even to 200:1).
Aloe vera is best known for the mucilaginous gel in the outer portions of the leaf tissues. This clear, jelly-like substance is used primarily as a topical agent for burns and wound-healing. The gel is also concentrated for its composition of glucomannans, galactans, and arabinans. Some of these components have been implicated with the ability to stimulate the immune system generally and against tumor cells specifically.
Aloe vera contains up to 200 different substances beneficial to the human body. These substances include enzymes, glycoproteins, growth factors, vitamins, and minerals. Long-chain sugars, or mucopolysaccharides (especially acemannan), have been of particular interest for their remarkable properties. Aloe vera is commonly considered a general tonic for increasing well-being and longevity.
The bitter yellow juice (different from the gel) of the leaves can also be used to make aloes, used as a laxative. More often, the related species Aloe ferox (The Cape Aloe) is used for this purpose.
Aloe vera provides the micronutrients required for protein synthesis. Its many components work together to reduce inflammation and pain, promote healing, and stop infection. Some of these components cause cells to divide and multiply; some stimulate the growth of white blood cells. Aloe vera also enhances cell wall permeability, increasing cell access to nutrients and facilitating the removal of toxins from the cells. Aloe vera can be used on the skin and can also be taken internally as a juice (2 ounces of concentrate in a 6-ounce beverage).
Aloe can be applied topically to wounds and taken internally for both skin wounds and gastrointestinal ulcers [Chithraet al. 1998]. Aloe's mode of action may be through modulating macrophage function in the wound, enabling an immune response that ingests and destroys foreign pathogens [Zhang et al. 1996]. It has been suggested that aloe works as a free radical scavenger and improves blood flow to the wound [Heggers et al. 1997].
Aloe vera is a natural way to cool burning skin. Keep an aloe vera plant in your house, and when you have a sunburn, break open a leaf and apply the clear gel inside directly to your tender skin. Apply as often as needed for relief. For convenience, use the aloe vera sunburn products available in most drugstores and health food stores. Just be sure that the product you're buying contains more aloe vera gel than water.
Apply aloe vera gel twice daily.