Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) is one of the most widely used medicinal plants in the world, according to the Arizona Cooperative Extension. Originally from Africa, aloe vera is very adaptable and can be grown outdoors in USDA zones 9 to 11 or indoors in a south- or west-facing window. In addition to making an attractive landscape plant or houseplant, aloe vera also has many uses.
People have applied aloe vera to sunburn for years. Aloe vera leaves can be left in the refrigerator to cool, then the gel inside the fleshy leaf is applied to the sunburned skin. It helps relieve the pain and inflammation. You also can combine aloe juice with vitamin E as an extra moisturizer.
Aloe vera is a good skin moisturizer. It is absorbed quickly, and it contains 18 amino acids; B vitamins 1, 2 and 6; vitamin C; niacinamide; choline; and the minerals calcium, iron, lecithin, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and zinc, according to BeautyBunny.com. Use it on stretch marks, scars, eczema and psoriasis.
Aloe vera may help increase hair growth. It can be massaged into the scalp, left for 30 minutes and then rinsed out. Because aloe vera is known to balance skin's pH and stimulate enzymes, it may help with hair production.
According to the Mayo Clinic, aloe vera is used medicinally for multiple purposes. For constipation, the dried latex from the leaves' inner lining has been used as a laxative. There is some evidence that extract from aloe vera in a hydrophilic cream may help treat genital herpes in men. And aloe may be a safe treatment for lichen planus, a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the lining of the mouth, according to the Mayo Clinic.