Aloe vera is a succulent plant that produces a clear gel within its leaves. The products of the plant are often used in herbal medicines and topical preparations. The plant produces two substances of value: a gel and a latex. The gel is the clear jelly-like liquid found within the leaves while the latex is located just under the surface of the plant’s skin. While the gel is clear, the latex has a slight yellow color. Some aloe products use both the gel and the latex, though this is less common.
Aloe can be used orally or topically. Most topical applications use the gel while most oral applications use the latex. Oral preparations are used for osteoarthritis, bowel diseases, fevers and as a general tonic. Topical preparations are used for itching, inflammation and burns. The most common use is for skin conditions such as sunburn, frostbite, psoriasis and more. It is less frequently used for wound cleansing. Aloe extracts are also used in cosmetics and alternative medicines.