Aloe Vera products are made from the whole leaf of the plant.
It is used in a wide range of cosmetics, toiletries and skin care products because it may help treat dryness, itching, eczema, psoriasis and frost bite.
Check the aloe content of products before buying. Many cosmetics have less than 2% aloe, but you need at least 25% aloe for effective treatment.
Aloe juice, tablets and capsules for internal use are meant to improve digestion, relieve indigestion and help the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and peptic ulcers.
It is believed to have activity against bacteria and viruses and helps combat inflammation - it is used to help measles, mumps, chicken pox and shingles.
Bitter aloes used to be given for constipation, and is still used to stop nail-biting.
Its activity is due to a unique and complex combination of substances - over 140 have so far been identified.
Official recommendations are vague, so be guided by product labels and manufacturers instructions.
Side effects and toxic problems are rare, but your urine may turn red. This is alarming but harmless.
Raw aloe juice is yellow and has a bitter taste. Added flavours mask the taste.
Beware of "cold and carbon filtered" products. Cold filtration gives unstable products, while carbon filtration removes the bitter taste and the active ingredients as well.
The seal of approval of the International Aloe Science Council (IASC) guarantees quality. Cheap products will probably have little aloe content.