Aloe vera plant was used for thousand years ago and right now there's scientific evidence about its properties as it counts dozens of active ingredients, some of them very useful to help in the task of maintaining an adequate degree of health.
First it's relevant to mention that aloe vera doesn't have important side-effects, even when it's (and was) constantly used. Setbacks arrive principally if the person has allergy or uses it internally, as it could create some instability in the levels of certain elements and lead to undesirable effects. There are other solutions so this is not a considerable setback.
It seems that the most interesting properties of aloe vera come for dermatology, in external use. Aloe is relaxant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. Thanks to these properties, it can be used to threat different and common skin problems like acne, psoriasis or dermatitis. Also for wounds, and disinfection. In other times, without the medical evolution that was experienced in the last hundred years, a plant like this is expected to have wide popularity.
In the present age it continues being handy as the plant grows without too many complexities, and everyone could have one near for using it for the aforementioned reasons without playing lottery with synthetic elements. As always, the most reasonable path is to look for those active solutions that were solidly tested during as much time as possible. Aloe vera has a history of thousand years in use while some synthetic compounds doesn't have nor five years. Besides, Nature knows perfectly well what's doing!