Aloe is a genus that is comprised of succulent, flowering plants that originate in Africa (particularly in the Cape Province area of South Africa). There are approximately 400 different species of aloe plants within the genus. One of the best-known aloe plants is aloe vera, which is also called "true aloe." There are various uses for aloe plants.
Aloe plants are often used for ornamental purposes and can be grown in both pots and gardens. Aloe often appears as a focal plant in offices and residences. The aloe vera plant has an elegant appearance, with grayish-green or green leaves. The plant somewhat resembles the cactus, with its spiky leaves. These plants require an abundance of sunlight and soil with good drainage. Pruning is not necessary.
Aloe vera, which is the most well known of all of the aloe plants, is notable for its medicine and healing properties. A clear gel that is extracted from the pulp of the plant's leaves has been used as a topical treatment for millenniums. The transparent gel is used to soothe and treat burns, wounds, skin infections and various other skin-related conditions. Also, the inner lining of the plant's leaves produces a dried latex, which functions as an oral laxative.
Aloe vera offers benefits for the skin and complexion. The plant has natural anti-inflammatory properties that can help reverse scarring and soothe sensations of pain on the skin. Aloe vera contains vitamins, nutrients and active compounds, amino acids and essential minerals that all work together to decrease inflammation. Aloe vera is odorless, nongreasy and nontoxic and can help the skin properly breathe and perspire.
According to the Hormone Research Institute Laboratory, Aloe offers health benefits to those suffering from the chronic disease diabetes. Aloe is capable of decreasing glucose (blood sugar) levels.