You might have glanced at the ingredient label of your shampoo, topical cream, or even facial tissue and noticed one key component- Aloe. Have you ever wondered what makes Aloe so amazing, or so amazingly common? Currently, there are three hundred and sixty species of Aloe in the world; however, just four of those are equipped with nutritional value suitable for animals or humans. Aloe barbadensis miller (pronounced bar ba den sis) or, Aloe vera, is the most common and potent of the Aloe family. This spiky green succulent looks like a cactus relative, though they are not botanically related. Snap open any one of the plump leaves and you will find a clear sticky gel that serves as a dynamic healing agent. Inner aloe jelly helps the plant conserve natural moisture by pulling dampness from its surrounding environment. When the gel is placed on human skin, it has a similar effect. Also know as the "burn plant," Aloe restores moisture to the skin that has been lost through harm while soothing pain in the process. Aloe's seemingly magical qualities do not end there. The plant's anti-inflammatory properties have been likened to comparable steroids. It serves as a bactericidal, virucidal, and fungicidal (anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal) that keeps vulnerable wounds free from infection and other potentially harmful microscopic dangers. After penetrating the damaged tissue, Aloe dilates capillaries that increase blood supply to the damaged area. Injuries treated with Aloe reveal an advanced content of aldehydic groups (organic compounds) which allow for higher degrees of "cross-linking;" strengthening the wound tissue during healing. Aloe vera has also been shown to augment collagen levels of granulation tissue. Increased collagen content not only aids in the overall curative process, but it also builds a better, more forgiving final scar. Because of its unique properties, Aloe lends itself to battle more severe skin conditions such as psoriasis and genital herpes. Ingested, the "burn plant" eases internal inflammations like ulcers, heartburn or digestive problems, and ulcerative colitis in certain patients. Additionally, the dried latex found in the lining of the Aloe leaf serves as an oral laxative. Anti-bacterial and anti-fungal attributes of Aloe extracts have been known to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria like Shigella (which can cause dysentery) and Streptococcus (which can cause illnesses like strep throat and meningitis). Making regular appearances on ingredient labels of lotions and soaps, Aloe gel naturally infiltrates your skin, bringing its moisturizing abilities deep within for more effective healing. While Aloe use dates back to the Egyptians (who regarded it as a sacred plant), modern research shows that Aloe barbadensis miller enhances the proteolytic enzyme action in skin tissue. By supporting exfoliation and cell division, Aloe gel hastens the production of healthy tissue. This rejuvenates even the roughest, toughest epidermis, making it feel soft and supple. Across the globe, from African cultures to Hispanics, Aloe barbadensis miller is regarded as a multifaceted, handy plant. With few-to-no known side effects, Aloe is a great example of pure organic healing. The next time you see Aloe on the ingredient label, know that you are using nature's greatest healer. Kari has been studying and practicing alternative health for several years and is a firm believer in its use and effectiveness. She is also the owner of Alternative Health Ideas which has natural health tips, articles, and resources regarding common natural health topics and concerns.