There are over 300 species of aloe plants, but aloe vera is the one with the widest medicinal use. Its leaves are quite distinctive, shaped like spears with spiny teeth on their sides, that grow out in circular clusters. Once fully mature (at about four years), if kept outside with plenty of room, the plant will produce flowers that are shaped like tubes in spring.
It is the gel from the leaves that have the medicinal uses however, so you can get the full benefits of having an aloe vera plant indoors.
Aloe Vera Gel Medicinal Uses
Slice open the plants lower leaves and scrape off the clear gel for a range of medicinal uses. The gel has a soothing effect and forms a coating over wounds that is considered to prevent infection. The gel doesn't store well, so only take what you need from the leaves, when you need to. It can be used to treat:
Sunburn for a soothing effect
Minor burns and woulds to soothe and help heal
Areas of eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis to reduce itching and to soothe and help heal
Ringworm to reduce itching and to soothe and help heal
You can even treat radiation burns with aloe vera gel
Growing Aloe Vera At Home
Aloe vera is an easy care plant that doesn't require a lot of watering - perfect for the forgetful gardener. They require well drained soil, full sun, and warm temperatures. Put a few centimetres of gravel at the bottom of your aloe vera pot to help with drainage. If you live in a colder part of the country, keep your aloe vera plant indoors, near a window. You can buy established plants from a garden shop, or propagate your own from a cutting.
The most important thing to remember with caring for aloe vera is not to over water. While the plant can go without water for several months, too much will cause it to rot.