Aloe Vera History...It Goes Back A Long Time…
A Very Very Long Time...!

Aloe Barbadensis Miller aka 'Aloe Vera', has been used by humans for medicinal purposes for 5000 plus years…maybe even longer!

One Cool Story!

It is believed to have originated from the Arabian Peninsular.

The first documented record of Aloe Vera is around 1550 BCE. This ancient record was first brought to public attention in 1862. An Egyptologist Edwin Smith sold George Ebers (in Luxor Egypt), a Papyrus Scroll which he had acquired.

This scroll was written about herbal knowledge and mentioned Aloe Vera in it. This is believed to be one of the first medical documents. It was to become known as the ‘Egyptian Medical Papyrus’ (or Ebers Papyrus).  

Cool Fact: This scroll was about 20 meters long.  

Famous Egyptian Queens like Nefertiti (1370-1330BC), and Cleopatra (69-30BC), used Aloe Vera.  They used Aloe Vera,‘The Plant of immortality’, as part of their beauty treatments. 

The Pharaohs wore Aloe Vera on their journey to the after life. It is thought to be one of the ingredients used, in their embalming processes.

There is evidence (From Egyptian Hieroglyphics) to suggest that Aloe Vera was used (as early as 4000BC). 

Around 600 BC in Persia, Aloe Vera was also used. From there it spread to countries in and around the Middle East and eventually India, via traders.

Asian Aloe Vera History

  • Ancient Eastern Asian cultures used Aloe Vera. There are records from the Philippines of people using Aloe Vera to help cure kidney infections, and Beriberi.
  • It is believed that around 900AD in China, that the ‘Materia Medicas’ mentions the use of Aloe. 
  • Aloe Vera is believed to have been used for medicinal purposes before the 18th Century, and around the time of Marco Polo. In a book called the Shi-Shen treatment book, it describes the plant as the ‘method of Harmony’. 
  • The Japanese samurai were known to use Aloe. It was called ‘The Royal Plant’!   
  • In India, Aloe Vera (Called Ghrita Kumari in Sanskrit), was used in Ayurveda medicine.  
  • Aloe is also found in the folk law of many countries from Malaysia to Hawaii.
aloe vera historyAlexander the Great

Greek Aloe Vera History

  • Aloe Vera History records show that Aloe was also used by the Greeks and the Romans.
  • It is believed that even Alexander the Great used Aloe Vera as a first aid treatment for his troops. 
  • Legend mentions that Alexander received an arrow wound in the battle of Gaza 330BC. It was a priest that helped treat Alexander's wound by using Aloe Vera.
  • Later, the famous Aristotle (who was Alexander's Teacher) advised him to conquer the island of Socotra (off the east coast of Africa). This was so he could get supplies of Aloe Vera for his troops.
  • It is said that this Miracle plant helped make Alexander’s Army indestructible. Alexander would transport stores of Aloes in carts with his army. This is so his troops had access to Aloe when they were wounded, and ill.
  • Greek history (dating back to the First Century), mentions Aloe use for the first time in writings. Around 25-50 AD, Celsius a Greek pharmacologist, mentions Aloe Vera and the purgative effect it can have. 
  • Around the same time the Greek Herbalist 'Dioscorides', started to use Aloe for treating a range of illnesses. Dioscorides documented the use of aloe Vera in these treatments.  
  • There is no doubt that the ancient Greeks had a high respect for Aloe Vera. This is evident by the Greeks describing Aloe as the ‘Universal Panacea’.

Religious Aloe Vera History - 'The Miracle Plant'.

Aloes are even mentioned in Biblical history, 5 times.

An Aloe Bible Verse  

And there came also Nicodemus, which at first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. And they took the body of Jesus and wound it in linen clothes with the spices as the manner of the Jews is to bury (John 19:39-40).

It is believed that King Solomon was an Aloe Vera fan and even grew his own Aloe plants.

This use of Aloe may have stemmed from it being handed down from the days when the Jews were slaves in Egypt.

The name originates from the Arabic language with the word ”Alloeh”, which means, “bitter”. For anyone that has had some of the juice of the Aloe plant, this describes it perfectly (It really is quite bitter).

The first Aloe Vera history reference in English was from a translation by John Goodyew. It was in 1655, and was of Dioscorides’ Medical treatise De Materia Medica.

Aloe Vera PlantationAn Aloe Vera Plantation

Spanish Aloe Vera History-Around the World It Goes!

In Aloe Vera history, it is suggested that Spanish missionaries introduced Aloe Vera to the Americas (Somewhere between 1600-1700AD). It is said that even Christopher Columbus used Aloe. He had pots of them growing on board his ships when he sailed around the world.

  • In the 16th Century Jesuit monks from Spain grew Aloe Vera and spread the word of the benefits of the plant. The local Maya Indians named it, “The Fountain of Youth”.
  •  Around 1100 AD ( The Middle Ages), Benedictine nuns used Aloe to cure migraines, gastric infections and ulcers.
  • Around 1500-1600 AD it was introduced into Britain in the form of its dried aloe sap. It was used for treatment of wounds and aliments.
  • Around 1700-1900 AD, commercial crops were first developed in the Caribbean Islands (by the Spanish and Dutch). Dried Aloe Vera was exported predominately to Europe.
  • In 1720 Aloe Vera was given a scientific name by Carl Von Linne “ Aloe Vera Linne”, aka Aloe Bardadensis Miller.
  • In the beginning of the 1800’s Aloe is used in America for treatments. It is introduced into the US pharmacopoeia (U.S.P) in 1820.

Modern Aloe Vera History

With a trend to documented science and medical treatments, there was a period of decline in using Aloe Vera. This resulted in its popularity diminishing. 

1936 to 1939 the first modern medical paper on Aloe is written (on radiation dermatitis).

Today, Aloe Vera struggles to get recognized with the medical community, even though it is used in large amounts of;

  • Skin treatment  
  • Health drinks
  • Cosmetics
  • Sun care
  • and in many other products and treatments.

Here is a really interesting Scientific Blog called 'Unravelling the Evolutionary History of Aloe Vera and its Relatives', written by the Kew (Royal Botanical Gardens) Science Blog team. http://www.kew.org/discover/blogs/kew-science/unravelling-evolutionary-history-aloe-vera-and-its-relatives

Time to learn why Aloe was used so much in history. Click through to: The 7 Benefits of Aloe Vera Backed Up By Science.

Even though the use of aloe did decline for a period, its obvious that Aloe Vera is resurfacing and becoming a trend again. This shows, as it’s now a billion dollar industry.

Aloe Vera history is intertwined with mankind’s own journey through the ages. Wherever humans have been, there has been a human using Aloe Vera ‘The Miracle Plant”, to fix an aliment or injury.

References:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/08/10/aloe-vera-benefits.aspx

https://whynotaloe.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/famous-people-that-uses-aloe-vera/

http://www.iasc.org/aloe.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aloe_vera

http://www.kew.org/discover/blogs/kew-science/unravelling-evolutionary-history-aloe-vera-and-its-relatives

Turner, Judith. "Aloe." Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine. 2005. Encyclopedia.com. 23 Jan. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Haller JJS. A drug for all seasons: medical and pharm. History of Aloe. Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. 1990;66:647–659.

 Youtube movie 'history of aloe vera' recovered from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpJKvpuQXs4

http://faculty.ucc.edu/biology-ombrello/pow/aloe_vera.htm

http://www.ecocityprojects.com/aloe-vera/medicinal-history/

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