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Aloe vera, a native of the African continent, belongs to the species Aloe. An aloe vera is a short stemless and succulent plant. The leaves of this plant are thick and fleshy. Although it resembles a cactus, it belongs to the lily family. It grows well in warm and dry climates.

Aloe vera is one of the most popular medicinal plants that can be grown at home. Since it is used as a home remedy for certain ailments, it is known as a "natural healer". There are approximately 400 species of aloe vera, but the one that is grown at home is Aloe Barbadensis Miller. It has many medicinal properties.

Aloe vera has been in use for almost 4000 years and the earliest records of its medicinal uses were found inscribed upon a Sumerian tablet dating 2100 BC. Aloe vera has been widely used by the ancient Indians, Chinese, Greeks, Romans, and the Egyptians.

One of uses of aloe vera is as a herbal laxative. It has been scientifically found that the inner lining of its leaves have aloin, which is one of the major ingredients used in laxatives. It is available in capsule form.

Its juice helps in nourishing skin and in diminishing wrinkles. Cleopatra, the queen of Ancient Egypt, used this juice as a part of her beauty regimen.

Aloe vera could be used to reduce the burning sensation of cuts, burns, and blisters. Applying the pure gel made of aloe vera would quell the stinging of herpes eruptions.

Its juice or gel is used to reduce warts, psoriasis and eczema. Today, dermatologists prescribe skin gels and creams made from aloe vera.

Its fresh juice is used to cure and heal rashes, vaginal infections, foot sores and fungal attacks of various types. It is one of the most preferred home remedies for these problems.

Aloe vera is used in hair loss treatment as well. The enzyme content of aloe vera prevents hair loss by protecting the scalp against infections and diseases. It also helps in the reduction of dandruff. You can mix the juice of aloe vera with coconut milk and wheat germ oil and massage your scalp before shampooing your hair. If used continuously it helps in hair re-growth.

The juice mixed with milk is consumed for kidney infections. In Japan, aloe vera is a main ingredient in commercial yogurts. In India, it is used to make certain edible dishes.

Aloe vera was used as medicine by people of the ancient world. The Greeks believed that Alexander the Great conquered the island of Socotra, an island in Indian Ocean, because this island had ample growth of these plants.