Aloe vera may be the most commonly used herbal remedy in the U.S., and it's simple to grow it for yourself instead of running out to buy it to treat a sunburn, soothe your skin, or even mix into a detox drink.
Aloe vera juice is jack of all trades: it's good for burns and many skin conditions; it works as hair conditioner, styling gel, or for a doing your own non-toxic blow-out; and many people swear by it as liquid tonic when your diet needs a refresh. In fact, our test kitchen just whipped up some pretty amazing recipes.
As for the origins of this versatile plant, aloe vera probably originated in Africa, but it is so useful (the earliest written record of its use dates from more than two centuries B.C.) and adaptable that it can now be found growing wild in just about every tropical region around the world.
(Whether you're starting your first garden or switching to organic, Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening has all the answers and advice you need—get your copy today!)
If you don’t live in the tropics, an aloe vera plant is easy to grow indoors as a house plant, so you can always have it on hand. It's common and easy to find at your local garden store, and they tend to make babies, so if you know anyone with a plant they can probably give you a start or two. Here's our guide to growing aloe vera at home.