The natural world has given us humans a veritable bounty - from plants and animals that we cook and eat to the herbs and spices we flavour our food with, but perhaps the most useful gifts that Mother Earth has given us are medicinal plants and extracts.
One of the most versatile plants in our inventory is Aloe Vera, a succulent plant species native to North Africa as well as the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, and Madeira - and the Aloe Vera benefits are wide ranging.
It's spread throughout the world as a result of its popularity with gardeners, who prize it not only as an attractive and easy to grow plant but also one which offers a wide range of medicinal and healing properties. These days it can also be found in many cosmetic products, as its soothing and rejuvenating properties are valued by the beauty industry.
The most common household use for Aloe Vera is to aid the healing of burns - whether you've caught yourself on the hob or been a bit overzealous with your hair stylers, there are plenty of ways to do yourself damage around the home.
Although there are lots of Aloe Vera gels and lotions available commercially, you might find that going straight to the source yields the best results. Simply cut or snap off a leaf from your Aloe Vera plant and squeeze the cooling gel directly onto your burn.
It's no substitute for medical treatment, however, so if your burn is serious make sure you seek professional medical advice - Aloe Vera is strictly for minor burns like sunburn.
The same Aloe Vera benefits, which make it a good home remedy for sunburn - in its ability to cool and soothe - also make it a great way to treat insect bites. As with burns, if the bite or your reaction becomes serious or infected then make sure you see a doctor, but for minor mosquito bites and wasp stings, applying Aloe Vera could ease any irritation quickly.
Another quality prized in Aloe Vera by our forebears which has stood the test of time is its ability to moisturise. Why not substitute the fancy moisturisers for Aloe Vera gel into your beauty regime to fight dry skin and redness in an all-natural way.
Commercial products often use Aloe Vera sap or other substances derived from it, as they are prized for their moisturising emollient effects, so keep an eye out for products with Aloe Vera in their name.
It's also antibacterial, meaning that if you do choose to use it on your face and body as a moisturiser you could enjoy some handy side-effects, as some people claim it can fight acne. As far as cheap and easy treatments go it's right up there, so you don't have much to lose by giving it a go!
You don't need green fingers to reap your own Aloe Vera benefits and enjoy the plant's rejuvenating properties - in fact, you don't even need an outdoor garden. It's an incredibly easy plant to grow and will be very happy on your windowsill. It's fine to put outside in the warmer months, but make sure it's inside before the frost hits!
A scientific review, which focused solely on the application of Aloe Vera to aid with the healing process for burns suggested in 2007 that, "cumulative evidence tends to support that Aloe Vera might be an effective intervention used in burn wound healing for first to second-degree burns," and that it might also be an effective treatment for some skin conditions.
For hundreds of years people have used the plant to aid in healing, moisturising and soothing and some sources even suggest it has health benefits when it's ingested. These include supplements with laxative effects useful for those with digestive issues and juices, which may help to support the healthy function of the digestive system, although neither should be attempted without the approval of a medical professional.
It's a great plant to add to your herbalist's tool kit, and if you grow it yourself, can be a cheaper and a more natural alternative to over the counter medications.
You can purchase it as gel to drink, which can not only help with weight loss but also with your whole well being.
Wide range of products from eye gels, toothpaste, sunscreen and and a whole range of products to use as a daily beauty regime.