Out of the 400 varieties of aloe vera originating in the arid dessert conditions of North Africa, only a single variety, Aloe barbadensis miller, has the multitude of benefits that are able to treat many ailments. Whole leaf aloe vera has become a major component in many cosmeceutical and health care products.
Cutting open this long, fleshy, succulent leaf reveals a very gelatinous center, which is actually 99 percent water. Despite the high water content, the gel has numerous goodies: vitamins; amino acids; sterols; and the emollient polysaccharide, glucomannan, which makes a good moisturizer. Another carbohydrate fraction in the gel accelerates wound healing. Brandykininase is an anti-inflammatory and magnesium lactate that stops itching. The salicylic acid found in this layer also acts as an anti-inflammatory. The middle layer of the leaf contains anthraquinone, which is better known as an ingredient in laxatives.
The outer green covering is just as important as the rest of the leaf. James Fulton, M.D., Ph.D., researched aloe vera processed with the outer skin and aloe vera that had the outer skin removed. He was looking for the most effective way to process and extract the active healing ingredients. Traditionally, the tough outer skin had been peeled off and thrown away. Fulton found that when the whole leaf was processed, it contained more valuable nutrients than the peeled aloe vera leaves. Topical skin care products formulated with the whole leaf aloe vera were more effective clinically than products produced with the filleted aloe vera.
No single plant, except for whole leaf aloe vera, has vitamins, sugars, enzymes, minerals, fatty acids, hormones, and anthraquinones working synergistically to heal the skin.