Aloe vera is a stemless or very short-stemmed succulent plant growing to 60–100 cm (24–39 in) tall, spreading by offsets. In India, it is popularly named as Ghrutkumari. It is widely used to cure a number of diseases. The leaves are thick and fleshy, green to grey-green, with some varieties showing white flecks on their upper and lower stem surfaces. The margin of the leaf is serrated and has small white teeth. The flowers are produced in summer on a spike up to 90 cm (35 in) tall, each flower being pendulous, with a yellow tubular corolla 2–3 cm (0.8–1.2 in) long. Like other Aloe species, Aloe vera forms arbuscular mycorrhiza, a symbiosis that allows the plant better access to mineral nutrients in soil.
Aloe vera leaves contain phytochemicals under study for possible bioactivity, such as acetylated mannans, polymannans, anthraquinone C-glycosides, anthrones, other anthraquinones, such as emodin, and various lectins.
Aloe vera is used in traditional medicine as a multipurpose skin treatment. Although Aloe is about 99% water, the remaining 1% is extremely powerful and it is thought this is because the close to 100 ingredients work extremely well together (synergistically). Aloe vera contains many minerals vital to the growth process and healthy function of all the body’s systems. The ingredients in Aloe can be grouped into the following categories: Vitamins, Minerals, Sugars, Enzymes, Lignins, Amino Acids, Anthraquinones, Saponins, Fatty Acids, Salicylic Acid.
Each of these categories could be discussed at length in their own right regarding individual molecules and ongoing studies into their remarkable effects. Combined together it’s easy to see why Aloe Vera is such an effective healing plant.