Aloe vera (Aloe vera & Aloe barbadensis) is a plant native to south Africa. It has thick, spiny, and up to 60 cm long green leaves that are full of gel with healing properties. Aloe vera has yellow or orange flowers that appear from May to June. This herb helps in healing wounds, stimulates bile secretion and works as a laxative. Pure aloe’s juice that comes out of fresh-cut leaves is mainly used as the first aid for burns, abrasions, scalds and sunburn. For pain relief, but also to reduce the risk of infection, gently spread the gel on the affected area. In the cosmetics industry, this plant is used for face and hand creams, and also in shampoos and sun-protection remedies.
It has long been valued for its medicinal properties, with the Ancient Egyptians using it to treat catarrh. It was so prized that Alexander the Great is said to have conquered the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean so that his soldiers could benefit from the would-healing properties of the aloes growing on the island. It is still valued medicinally, with the gel from its leaves being harvested and sold fresh or evaporated for use in creams, lotions, pills and tinctures.
(Summarised from A Concise Guide to Herbs, by Jenny Linford)