It’s no wonder the aloe vera plant has long been used for health and healing purposes. Staring at the plump leaves of this plant, one can easily imagine what sort of magic it might hold. If you’ve ever had a chance to crack a big aloe vera leaf in half, you may have marveled at the cool, gel substance inside with its mild, fresh aroma.

The aloe vera plant falls into the perennial category, in that it lives for more than two years. It also is considered a succulent plant, which means it retains water. One glance at the long, fat leaves of this plant, and you’ll likely agree it looks succulent.

Of course, when most people think about aloe vera, they think of relief from stinging sunburns. In regions of the world where aloe vera grows rampantly in the wild, the leaves themselves often are simply sliced in half and placed on top of sunburned skin, with the cool gel inside of the plant providing much-needed relief.

However, scientists now know there is more to the aloe vera plant than soothing sunburns. Today, aloe vera is manufactured into all sorts of health and cosmetic products, from burn relief in a bottle to oral supplements and also as aloe vera oil, which is widely used in massage creams and lubricants.

As a bodyworker, you may wonder about the ingredients in the massage cream you spread on so many clients, which also penetrates your own hands and forearms on a regular basis. If you use a massage cream that contains aloe vera oil, there are several benefits for both you and the client on your table.

First of all, not only does aloe vera help heal sunburns, it also is reported to soothe inflammation and reduce scarring. In addition, aloe vera has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Used topically in a massage cream, it may help speed cell regeneration and ease such conditions as psoriasis, eczema, acne and skin ulcers.

The mechanism behind these myriad benefits is believed to be the fact that aloe vera is packed with vitamins C and E, along with zinc and polysaccharides, which may help stimulate cell repair and epidermal growth.

Aloe vera oil is created through a process that involves a breaking down of the contents inside each leaf, by soaking the plant in liquid. The macerated substance is then infused in a base oil, such as soybean oil, almond oil or apricot oil.

Check the label on your favorite massage cream to find out whether it contains aloe vera oil. If not, and you wish to bring the benefits of this plant to yourself and your clients, begin searching for massage creams that do contain aloe vera oil. This way you can stick with the texture and consistency of a cream, while still reaping the benefits of such lubricants as aloe vera oil.

No longer solely relegated to the realm of sunburns, aloe vera has made strong forays into the overall world of health and healing.

—Brandi Schlossberg