Aloe vera is the oldest known and the most applied medicinal plant worldwide. It is believed to date back to the 1st century AD! Extracts of Aloe vera is a proven skin healer, soothing skin injuries affected by burning, skin irritations, cuts and insect bites, and its bactericidal properties relieve itching and skin swellings.
It is known to help slow down the appearance of wrinkles and actively repair the damaged skin cells that cause the visible signs of ageing.
Aloe is also a powerful detoxifier, antiseptic and tonic for the nervous system. It also has immune-boosting and anti-viral properties. Research has proven that Aloe vera improves digestion and is a useful source of vitamins such as vitamin B12, Vitamin A, contains B-Group vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and folic acid. It also contains important ingredients including 19 of the 20 amino acids needed by the human body and seven of the eight essential ones that just cannot be made.  .RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
Below we will have a closer look at Aloe vera benefits and side effects.
Mechanism of actions:
A. Wound healing,
C. Effect on gastric acid secretion and ulcers
D. Cosmetic Values of Aloe Vera
A). Wound healing effects
Wound healing is a response to injured tissue that results in the restoration of tissue integrity. It was shown that Aloe vera gel could improve wound healing after systemic administration in several studies, while others had no discernible effect or even promoted a delay in wound healing. Any conflicting results may be explained by stability of the active ingredients as it was shown that the time of treatment after harvesting was an important factor that determined effectiveness.
Several mechanisms have been proposed for the wound healing effects of Aloe gel, which include keeping the wound moist, increase epithelial cell migration, more rapid maturation of collagen and reduction in inflammation .
B). Anti-inflammatory effects
Inflammation is a reaction by the body to injury and is characterised by swelling, pain, redness, heat and loss of function. This natural response can delay healing, but it may also be harmful to suppress inflammation before its purpose is accomplished. It improves joint flexibility and helps in the regeneration of body cells. It strengthens joint muscles, which therefore reduces pain and inflammation in weakened or aged joints.
The anti-inflammatory activity of mannose- 6-phosphate is believed to resemble the effects observed for acetylated mannan in Aloe vera gel. Aloe vera reduces inflammation that is induced by agents via promotion of prostaglandin synthesis as well as increased infiltration of leucocytes, but is less effective against inflammation caused by agents that produce allergic reactions 
C). Effect on gastric acid secretion and ulcers
It has been claimed that Aloe Vera gel has the ability to cure gastric ulcers or protect against its formation in both animals and humans. However, it was also shown that aloe gel could not prevent ethanol-induced gastric lesions in rats. The anti-ulcer activities of Aloe vera have been attributed to several possible mechanisms including its anti-inflammatory properties, healing effects, mucus stimulatory effects and regulation of gastric secretions .
D). Aloe vera is widely used in the cosmetic industry
For beauty purposes. Utilised in soaps, shampoos, creams and lotions; it stimulates the production of collagen and elastin that prevents ageing of the skin. It has been proven to lighten the dark spots on the face and reduces the intensity of pigmentation. T-gel acts as best moisturiser and removes dead cells and rejuvenates the skin. When used in shampoo it has been shown to condition the damaged hair.
TIP: After shampooing your hair, mix Aloe vera gel and lemon juice and apply to your hair. Leave this for 4- 5 minutes.
The enzymes in aloe are destroyed at temperatures above 70° C. Fresh leaves and carefully made extracts therefore have the greatest effect, while heated, powdered dry extracts have much weaker or even negative effects .[ 5 ]
We will continue to look at the side effects of Aloe vera in Part 2 of Alexandra’s Madej’s article tomorrow.
5. Schmidt, J.M. & Greenspoon, J.S. Aloe Vera dermal wound gel is associated with a delay in wound healing, Obstet Gynecol 1991, 78, 115-117.
9. Reynolds, T.; Dweck, A.C. Aloe Vera leaf gel: a review update. J. Ethnopharmacol. 1999, 68, 3- 37.
10. Suvitayavat, W.; Sumrongkit, C.; Thirawarapan, S.S.; Bunyapraphatsara, N. Effects of Aloe preparation on the histamine-induced gastric secretion in rats. J. Ethnopharmacol. 2004, 90, 239- 247.
15. Barcroft, Myskja. Aloe vera: Nature’s Silent Healer. 2003.