I can remember as a young boy that my grandmother always had an Aloe Vera plant in our home. While playing with the neighbors' kids, I always seem to end the day with plenty of scrapes and minor cuts. Grandma would break off a leaf from her Aloe Vera plant and come to my rescue. Spread over the affected area, the soothing and cooling effect of the leaf's gel is still fresh in my mind. My mother was also quick to apply the gel to the frequent burns she received while cooking. Although many of the remedies that our grandparents would recommend and use originated out of superstition rather than practical application, I don't think that even grandma knew the true magnitude of healing that lies within the leaves of the Aloe Vera plant.
The healing power of the aloe plant is not just a recent discovery. Documents thousands of years old reveal that many cultures; from the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, to the Indian and Chinese people, referenced the use of Aloe Vera for both medicinal and beauty applications. Historic physicians, Pliny the Elder, Dioscorides and Galen, the father of modern medicine, all used Aloe Vera as a healing remedy. Cleopatra and Nefertiti, Egyptian Queens noted for their extraordinary beauty, even gave tribute to Aloe Vera as an important part of their beauty regiment. Yes, even our ancestors recognized the benefits of the Aloe Vera plant. In 333 BC, his mentor, Aristotle, supposedly persuaded Alexander the Great to capture the Island of Socotra for its famed Aloe supplies much needed to treat his wounded soldiers.
Very few remedies are as versatile as Aloe Vera. Taken as a drink it can be used to treat internal ailments; applied to the skin it can be used to treat external ailments. Clinical studies show that the aloe plant, often referred to as the Medicine Plant, speeds healing of damaged skin, fights infections, minimizes scarring, reduces pain, retards aging and moisturizes and retains moisture by carrying added emollients deep into the layers of the skin. Digestive tract ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and colitis are other areas where Aloe Vera's natural healing and detoxifying power works to bring relief.
I caution consumers always to look for the seal of the International Aloe Science Council when purchasing products boasting of Aloe Vera content. Many products claiming to contain Aloe Vera may have little, if any, Aloe Vera in their ingredients. Since it is the concentration of Aloe in the product that makes it effective, trace amounts serve only to justify a producer labeling its product as "Contains Aloe Vera." The International Aloe Science Council, a Texas based organization, provides certification of products as containing genuine Aloe. This organization validates the claims of producers as to the quality and quantity of Aloe Vera content in their products. Perhaps the greatest attribute of Aloe Vera is that there are no known side effects from its use, as is the case with most other remedies.