Several species of aloe – Aloe barbadensis, Aloe Ferox, Aloe perry – have been used for medicinal purposes for over three thousand years in Europe, Africa and Asia Minor. According to folklore traditions, aloe was a specific for treating skin diseases, ulcers, burns, wounds, for throats and eye inflammations, In addition, it was regarded as a reliable purgative and vermifuge (treatment for intestinal worms). Such was its reputation that it wasting cultivated for commercial purposes in the Mediterranean region at the time of the ancient Greek empire Today the three species are grown in many tropical and sub-tropical regions, including the West Indies, Central America, South America, the Middle East, South-east Asia, Papua New Guinea, the South Pacific and Australia, however, is aloe vera which has received the most publicity over recent years.
The dried bitter, yellow latex (derived from plant cells just beneath the leaf surface) was once widely used in the pharmaceutical industry for the treatment of chronic constipation: however today it is the gel (from the thick fleshy inner portion of the leaves)which is mainly valued. this is included in a myriad of skin-care products, ointments, sun creams and cosmetics for its moisturising, soothing and healing properties.
Articles in popular culture claim success in using aloe vera internally to treat a range of conditions from obesity, insomnia, headaches, digestive troubles, even heart disease, cancer, arthritis and diabetes. No clinical studies have been done to substantiate these claims.
Regardless of this Aloe vera is a valuable home remedy for the treatment of dry skin, eczema and, in particular, minor burns. It is primarily for this purpose that it is grown in gardens or in a pot plant. The gel is soothing and healing and offers immediate relief from discomfort. To treat these conditions a leaf is cut longitudinally through the centre to expose the jelly-like flesh, which is then spread over the affected area, or the cut leaf is bound to it and left for several hours. The leaf is replaced twice a day if the treatment is to be extended.
In the case of a moderate to severe burn, qualified medical assistance should be sought as quickly as possible after it has occurred to avoid complications that may arise.
In the West Indies plants growing near or on the beach are used for sunburn.