In our store we have a huge pair of aloe vera plants growing near the front windows. People often comment on their size, and share stories of how they use aloe for good health; my own mom always kept an aloe or two handy, and many times would apply the pulp from the leaves to bug bites or sunburns on me or my siblings.
I would bet that almost everyone here knows a little about the healing qualities of this remarkable plant. Certainly my herbal teachers consider aloe vera one of the most versatile of herbal remedies, a view modern science is beginning to support; the unique phytochemistry of aloe has been shown to enhance absorption of nutrients (in ayurveda, aloe is held to enhance the effectiveness of other herbs when taken in combination, probably due to this improvement of absorption), support healthy cholesterol, blood sugar and tone digestion. And while its common knowledge that aloe is wonderful for burned or irritated skin, it's also great for internal "burns" and irritation, hyperacidity, inflammation of the G.I. tract and liver and spleen function. In fact, for hot constitutional types tending to irritability and internal heat disorders (like those previously mentioned), ayurveda tells us that nothing is better for promoting general wellness than daily consumption of aloe juice.
It's important to note that multiple preparations of Aloe Vera are commercially available, and not all share the same properties: juices and gels (a natural thickening agent, often carrageenan, is added to the juice to render it more jelly-like; great for topical use or mixing with herbs) which can be consumed or applied externally, and also purely topical mixtures. Also of note, the green outer portion of the leaf contains a latex sap which functions as a stimulant laxative when consumed in even small amounts. Aloe Vera preparations described as "whole leaf" may contain this component and so should be used with caution. "Inner filet" aloe's consist only of the soft, translucent, inner portion of the leaf (or filet) and, while promoting regularity through its moistening action, will not have a strong laxative effect. "Inner Filet" aloe can be consumed regularly in quite large amounts with no worry of side effects.