Aloe Vera – Price is for one piece It looks like a cactus, but is in fact a member of the Lily family. Naturally found in tropical climates it has been used by humans for 1,000’s of years. A plant of many surprises, it is best known as an addition to many cosmetic or skin care products. However, its uses are legion and this curious plant with its spiky leaves is truly extraordinary. Aloe vera has a long history of cultivation throughout the drier tropical and subtropical regions of the world, both as an ornamental plant and for herbal medicine. Aloe vera is a perennial, drought-resisting, succulent plant belonging to the Lily (Liliaceae) family which, historically, has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes. The plant has stiff grey-green lance-shaped leaves containing clear gel in a central mucilaginous pulp. Clinical evealuations have revealed that the pharmacological active ingredients are concentrated in both the gel and rind of the aloe vera leaves. These active ingredients have been shown to have analgesic and antiinflammatory effects. Should it be taken internally or applied topically? Aloe vera can be taken internally as a drink or applied topically. The principle ingredient of any product should be the stabilised aloe vera gel which is as near to the inner gel of the natural plant as possible. It must not, therefore, be treated with excessive heat or filtered during the manufacturing process, as this destroys or reduces the effect of certain essential compounds, such as the enzymes and polysaccharides. Regrettably there are many products which contain virtually no aloe and yet are marketed as though they do. Caution applies particularly to cheap capsules of dried aloe leaf. Not only does aloe vera provide nutrition and produce an anti-inflammatory action, it also has a wide range of antimicrobial activity.