The aloe vera plant has both a wound-healing and soothing effect when applied to the skin. In fact, a quick and easy way to treat a skin burn is by applying an aloe vera leaf directly to the wound. You can also remove the inner pulp of a leaf, mix it into a gel and then apply it to the burn. Since the aloe plant creates new leaves from the center out, it's a good idea to cut the oldest leaves first, those located on the outermost section of the plant. Beyond using an aloe vera leaf directly, burns also can be treated by simply purchasing one of many different types of aloe-based preparations, including skin creams, gels and soaps.
Burns aren't the only problems aloe vera can treat. In fact, the plant has many other medicinal benefits. In 1973, the International Journal of Dermatology published a study in which it was shown that applying aloe to leg ulcers resulted in complete or at least very significant healing [source: Zawahry]. And many studies over the years have shown that aloe is useful in treating skin disorders like psoriasis and dermatitis. In one study, 83 percent of participants who used a gel containing aloe vera on their psoriasis for four weeks reported no symptoms at the end of the study [source: Syed].
More recently, scientists have been looking into possible applications of aloe as a way to treat certain blood diseases and even cancer. Veterinarians already use an aloe extract to treat feline leukemia and cancer in animal patients. It's believed that a molecule in aloe called acemannan stimulates the body into producing the white blood cells that fight off disease. Aloin is another component of aloe that shows promise in fighting ovarian and breast cancer, but because aloe can also be dangerous, more research still needs to be conducted [source: American Cancer Society].
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