The aloe plant, a member of the lily family, is a common household plant that was first found in northern Africa. The most common and widely-known species of aloe plant is aloe vera. Aloe vera plants have thick dark green leaves that look like small cacti but are soft and supple.
Aloe vera gel is the thin, clear, jelly-like substance that oozes from the fleshy inside of the aloe leaves. The extract taken from inside the outer lining of the leaves is called aloe latex, a bitter yellow liquid that is often dried into brownish granules. Aloe products made from the whole crushed leaves contain both gel and latex. Unprocessed aloe gel often contains some aloe latex.
Available scientific evidence does not support claims that aloe can treat any type of cancer. In fact, used as a cancer treatment, aloe may be dangerous and possibly even deadly.
The gel inside aloe leaves may help minor burns and skin irritations. There are safety concerns about taking aloe products by mouth as laxatives. Doctors around the world have reported hepatitis cases that were linked to taking aloe by mouth for a few weeks or more.