Synonyms: Aloe barbadensis, True Aloe
Aloe vera, a species of succulent plant, is one of the most widely used herbal remedies in the world, having been used both in its original, organic form, and as various synthetic extracts, for nearly two thousand years of recorded history. The species has been theorized to be native to the Mediterranean, though conflicting theories exist as to its original distribution. It has traveled across the globe as part of nearly every major human civilization, has been naturalized on every inhabited continent, and is present in both conventional medicine and holistic folk healing everywhere from Asia to Africa to South America.
Aloe vera has a gooey, slimy sap that can be scraped or squeezed from its porous leaves. The sap can be applied topically (by itself or as part of a mixture or poultice with other plants), for a variety
of skin ailments. This clear, gel-like substance is known for hav- ing a cooling, soothing quality, and some research has shown it
to be effective in accelerating the healing of wounds, rashes, and burns. Though it has a strong bitter taste, the sap or pulp made from the leaves can also be ingested as a powerful laxative. In re- cent years, aloe vera, sometimes referred to simply as “aloe”, has been synthesized in an array of forms within the cosmetic industry, including as a moisturizing agent for various creams and soaps.