What Is Aloe Vera?


If you’ve ever wondered… what is Aloe Vera? and, what is it about the gel inside the Aloe Vera leaf that makes it such a potent healing force…?

Wonder no more!

Read on for my detailed overview…

Aloe Vera is a member of the Lily family, it is a succulent, perennial plant that closely resembles a Cactus. It is a xerophyte, meaning that it thrives in warm, rather arid areas hence it’s African origins. It does not thrive in cold frosty conditions.

Aloe Vera’s thick, tapered, spiny leaves grow from a short stalk near ground level. Aloe Vera is related to other members of the Lily family such as the onion, garlic and turnip families. Aloe Vera’s relationship to the Lily family is evident from the tubular yellow flowers produced annually in the spring that resemble those of the Easter Lily.

The typical Aloe Vera leaf grows from the base of the plant in the rosette pattern. Each plant usually has 12-16 leaves that, when mature, may weigh up to 3 pounds. Mature plants can grow as tall as 2 and a half inches to 4 feet with the average being around 28 to 36 inches in length.


There are over 250 different species of Aloe, growing mainly in the dry regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and America. Of these 250+ species of Aloe, 5 are recognized as having nutritional and medicinal value. These are:

  • Aloe Barbadensis Miller sometimes called Aloe Linne, Aloe Vulgaris or the Curacao Aloe

  • Aloe Perryi Baker also known as the Socotrine or Zanzibar Aloe

  • Aloe Ferox also known as Cape Aloe

  • Aloe Arborescens

  • Aloe Saponaria

Aloe Barbadensis Miller is the most popular, while the last 2 are the least popular. Aloe Barbadensis Miller was introduced to the West Indies at the beginning of the 16th century.

Today when replying the question… “What is Aloe Vera?” …reference is now universally made to Aloe Barbadensis Miller. This is the true Aloe Vera. It is the most potent – nutritionally and medicinally – and is the type of Aloe used in most commercial products with Aloe content available today.

Most species of the Aloe Vera plant are non-toxic but there are about 15 poisonous ones which contain a deadly hemlock-like substance. If you are thinking of growing Aloe Vera at home that’s definitely something worth remembering when choosing your plant!

The outside of the Aloe Vera leaf is smooth and rubbery to touch and inside is the Aloe Vera gel that is so highly regarded! The gel appears to contain a “wound hormone” that accelerates the rates of healing of injured surfaces.

Aloe Vera plants are not fully mature with their complementary medicinal properties until they are four years old and it is therefore important that the gel is not extracted until they reach this age.

If you were to ask most scientists today “What is Aloe Vera?”… you’d be told that Aloe Vera is a diverse mixture of antioxidant, antibiotic, cell growth stimulator, adaptogen, scar inhibitor, anti-inflammatory, astringent, coagulating agent and pain inhibitor!

Aloe Vera is a nutritional storehouse, its gel contains over 75 nutrients such as minerals, amino acids, and a number of vitamins including B12, enzymes and more.

Note: Aloe Vera is currently the only known natural source of vitamin B12.

It is the combined team-like action and balance of this rich cocktail of ingredients contained in the Aloe Vera gel that make it so effective. This effect known as ’synergism’ is what is responsible for the numerous health benefits of Aloe Vera.

The International Aloe Science Council, in answering the question… “what is Aloe Vera?” describe it as an “orchestra” of the “polysaccharides, enzymes, amino acids, glycoproteins, vitamins and minerals intrinsic to the the Aloe Vera plant and its exudate (inner) gel.”

Now that I’ve answered the “what is Aloe Vera?” question for you, here’s where you can get a detailed picture of what is in Aloe Vera

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{ 1 comment }

raj 05.13.09 at 2:08 pm

Are you sure, it has the goodness of vitamin b12? Which manufacture has done the done the required tests.
which is the best brand and why?

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