"History of Aloe Vera - (A magical plant)
The Aloe Vera plant has been known and used for centuries. It is a true gift of nature.
Records show that the benefits of Aloe Vera have been known for centuries for its therapeutic benefits and healing properties. Many ancient works, including the Bible, refer to the use of Aloe. 6000 year old carvings of Aloe Vera plants were discovered in Egypt. It was considered the "Plant of Immortality" and was offered as a burial gift to the deceased pharaohs. 2000 years ago, the Greek scientist considered Aloe Vera as a panacea. The medicinal use of aloe was already mentioned more than 4000 years ago in a collection of Sumerian clay tablets.
Sumerian clay tablets dated 2100 BC. The first detailed discussion of the medicinal value of aloe is found in the Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian document written around 1550 BC. Egyptian Queen Nefertiti and Cleopatra used it as part of their regular beauty regimes. Alexander the Great and Christopher Columbus used it to treat soldiers' wounds. Celsius, Dioscorides, Pliny the Elder and many other writers have described the properties of Aloe Vera in their books. Aloe Vera is now cultivated in many parts of the world with warm climates.
It grows mainly in the dry region of Africa, Asia, Europe and America. In India it is found in Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and THE CANARY ISLANDS. The nutrients that make up Aloe Vera are unique and have amazing natural healing properties. Its uses are manifold and it is undoubtedly a gift from nature to mankind.
It remains for us to present it to ourselves and to thank nature for its endless gift.
History has shown us that Aloe Vera is one of the oldest mentioned plants on record due to its medicinal properties and health benefits. Ancient physicians considered it a blessing for mankind. Often called the "miracle plant" or "nature's healer", Aloe Vera is a plant of many surprises.
It belongs to the family Asphodelaceae (Liliaceac). The name "Aloe" is derived from the Arabic word "alloeh" or the Hebrew word "halal", which means bitter and shiny substance; "Vera" in Latin means "real". Because of its cactus-like feel, Aloe is often mistakenly called "desert cactus". There are over 400 species of Aloe cultivated worldwide, but it is the Aloe barbadensis miller (Aloe Vera or "True Aloe") plant that has been of most use to mankind because of the medicinal properties it exhibits.
II. HISTORY OF ALOE VERA
Aloe vera is a favourite PLANT of many nations of the world. It has been found and described in writings in many different cultures and from Greek, Egyptian and Roman times. References have also been found in writings from early Indian and Chinese cultures. It has been one of the most widely used, sought after and utilised plants throughout history. Many ancient works, including the Bible, refer to the use of Aloe Vera.
The Bible mentions taking Christ off the cross and wrapping his body in aloes and myrrh (John 19: 39).
We find Aloe Vera appearing in all phases of history with numerous testimonies of its great medicinal values.
The evolutionary history of the genus Aloe is little known. Aloe Vera itself is particularly mysterious; it has been so widely transplanted around the world for commercial reasons that the location of its ancestral home is a matter of debate. Sudan or the Arabian Peninsula have been suggested based on similarities with Aloe species native to these regions, but much more distant locations, such as the Canary Islands, have also been proposed. An international coalition of scientists from the UK, Denmark, Norway, Australia, Ethiopia and South Africa, led by Olwen Grace of Kew Gardens in London and Nine Ronsted of the University of Copenhagen, have attempted to resolve this argument.
The researcher assembled the most comprehe
nsive genetic sampling of the genus Aloe ever produced. Using newly sequenced nuclear and plasmid DNA and a substantial amount of pre-existing sequences stored in GenBank, they interrogated the evolutionary relationship between the aloes.
The Arabian Peninsula where the highly evolved Aloe is close to historically important trade routes between Asia and the Mediterranean. Historical sources suggest that Aloe traced Vera trade routes being well established in the Red Sea and Mediterranean region as early as the 4th century.
B.C. Thus, the Aloe Vera plant has been known and used for centuries for its health, beauty, medicinal and skin care properties.
The first note of aloe vera is found on the Sumerian clay tablet dating back to 2100 BC and was found in the city of Nippur. The tablet was created in the time of the King of Akkad and speaks of the medicinal properties of this plant. The first detailed discussion of the medicinal value of aloe is probably found in the Ebers papyrus, an Egyptian document written around 1550 BC. This document gives twelve formulas for mixing aloe with other agents to treat both internal and external human disorders. (Samuel and Ria).
The earliest record of the use of Aloe Vera comes from the Egyptians. There are records of the Egyptians drawing pictures of Aloe Vera plants on the walls of temples. Many cultures, such as the Egyptians, have even elevated the plant to a "god-like" status. The healing properties of Aloe Vera were used for centuries earning it the name "Plant of Immortality". (Gertrude Baldwin).
The Aloe Vera plant and its derived products have played an important role in medicine and health as early as the 4th century BC when ancient Greek doctors obtained aloe from the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean. There are also many stories about it, with Egyptian queens Nefertiti (1353 BC) heralded as "the most beautiful woman who ever lived" and Queen Cleopatra VII (69-30 BC) using it as part of her regular beauty regimen and medicines. Alexander the Great in 333 BC was allegedly persuaded by his mentor Aristotle to capture the Indian Ocean island of Socotra for its famous supply of aloe, needed to treat his wounded soldiers. The ancient civilisation of Kemet in the Nile Valley ("Land of the Blacks" now known as Ancient Egypt which derived from the Greek name Aigyptos later Latinised under Roman rule to Aegyptus which derived from the name "Hekaptah" meaning "Lands of the Temple of Ptah") used Aloe for medicinal treatments, beauty care and embalming (Manvitha and Bidya, 2014).
King Solomon (971-931 BC) highly valued the medicinal properties of this plant, even cultivating his own aloe vera. In Psalm 45: 8 we find the following, "Your clothes smell of myrrh, aloe and cinnamon ......." (Svetlana Pasaric).
Aloe vera had travelled to Persia and India around 600 BC by Arab traders. The Arabs called Aloe the "Desert Lily" for internal and external uses. They discovered a way to separate the inner gel and sap from the outer bark. With bare feet they crushed the leaves and then stuffed the pulp into goatskin bags. The bags were then placed in the sun to dry and the Aloe was turned into powder (Gertrude Baldwin).
In Chinese culture, aloe vera has been an important ingredient in medical treatments since the time of the Marco Polo Expeditions. Shi Shen's treatment book described Aloe Vera as the "Method of Harmony": the plant played an important role in the daily life of the Chinese. The plant is also highly valued in Japanese culture. In Japan it was known as the "royal plant", the juice was consumed as an elixir and the samurai used it for embroidery. The Hindu people thought that Aloe Vera grew in the Garden of Eden and called it the "Silent Healer". The Russians called Aloe Vera "the elixir of longevity". The Native American Indians used Aloe for its emollient and rejuvenating powers.
In Sanskrit, Aloe is known as Ghrita Kumari, Kumar means girl child and it was believed that this plant supplied the energy of youth to women and had a rejuvenating effect on the feminine nature. In Hindu culture, the Aloe Vera plant retains an important place among the sacred plants of the Atharva Veda, where it receives its name - "The Silent Healer". Ayurveda (the ancient Indian science of health and life) considers aloe to be "Vera rasayana" - the rejuvenator of the organism. According to Ayurveda, Aloe Vera contains four tastes: sweet, sour, bitter and astringent (Svetlana Pasaric). In Ayurvedic medicine, it is also used in numerous applications such as rejuvenating remedies, for minor ailments and to stabilise the cardiovascular system. Aloe is considered to be the plant of balance between pitta, Kapha and Vata, Aloe is one of the few plants that have these qualities. Dioscorides gained most of his knowledge about Aloe Vera while travelling with the Roman armies. He first wrote about it in his "De Medica" in 41-68 A.D. His commentary uses Aloe Vera for boils, healing of the foreskin, soothing dry itchy skin, ulcerated genitals, tonsils, irritations of the gums and throat, bruises and to stop bleeding wounds. Pliney the Elder, a physician from 23 to 79 AD, confirmed in his 'Natural History' the discoveries of Dioscorides. The first reference to Aloe Vera in English was a translation by John Goodyew.
1655 A.D. from the medical treatise Dioscorides - "De Materia Medica" (Davis, RH).
In the 7th century, the Chinese Materia Medica wrote about the use of Aloe Vera for sinusitis and other skin conditions. "In the 15th century, an era that presaged a massive explosion in exploration by the then leading maritime powers, namely: Spain, Portugal, Holland, France and Britain, it was the Jesuit priests of Spain who were instrumental in bringing Aloe Vera back to the New World, as they called it." Many credit the Spanish with bringing Aloe Vera not only to the New World, but also to Central America, the West Indies, California, Florida and Texas.
The early Spanish missions had padres who administered the healing aids. Some padres would carry an aloe vera plant as far as 50 miles to comfort the sick. Aloes were always found in the mission courtyards. During Christopher Columbus' second voyage to America in 1494, a letter was written by his physician, Dr. Diego Alverez Chanca, saying, "A species of Aloes which we doctors use is growing in Hispaniola," Christopher Columbus once said, "Four vegetables are indispensable to man's well-being: wheat, grapes, olives and aloe. The first nourishes him, the second lifts his spirit, the third brings him harmony and the fourth heals him".
Aloe vera lost its healing power when it began to be imported. The pulp worked best when Fresca. This damaged the reputation of Aloe Vera in the medical community. Medical professionals in Europe and North America stopped using Aloe Vera and replaced it with drugs. Scientists determined that the oxidation process hindered the healing properties of Aloe Vera. It caused the plant to lose quality and effectiveness, gradually leading to its loss of popularity in areas where it is not grown. In the 1950s, many processing techniques were tried but failed due to overheating.
However, in 1964, Dr. Bill C. Coactive a practicing pharmacist in Dallas, Texas, USA, became a man with a dream: to make the full benefits of Aloe Vera available to the world and the millions of people I need. Convinced that the "gel" of the plant could be extracted and used without losing its potency, Dr. Coates set about learning the secrets of the plant's chemistry and doing what no one had ever been able to do in plants over 4100 years of known history - to naturally extract and stabilise the "Gel" while retaining its natural healing potency, and in 1968 he succeeded (Manvitha and Bidya, 2014). By the 1970s they had advanced processing techniques and successfully stabilised the leaf gel by using natural ingredients and cold pressing. They also found a way to separate the husk and aloin. These new found processing techniques have created a new market for Aloe Vera. Since then, new frontiers have opened up for the use of stabilised products.
Aloe Vera gel in medicine, athletics, health and beauty, cosmetics and animal care.
Aloe Vera is now cultivated in many parts of the world with warm climates. Aloe Vera is widely used in personal care products, cosmetics, detergents and is popular as a dietary supplement. Today, sales support a multi-billion dollar business worldwide. For thousands of years, Aloe Vera was part of myth and legend, but today it plays a role in helping to improve health and nutrition. The nutrient composition of Aloe Vera is one of a kind and has incredible natural healing properties. Today in Japan, Aloe Vera is commonly used as an ingredient in commercially available yoghurt. There are also many companies producing Aloe Vera beverages. The inhabitants of Tamil Nadu, a state in India, often prepare a curry with aloe vera which is carried with Indian bread (Nan bread) or rice.
Thus, Aloe Vera acted as an ancient natural remedy which is definitely superior to many synthetic drugs and could be called "modern miracle plants".
Aloe Vera is a favourite herb of many nations of the world. The Aloe Vera plant and its derivative.
The products have played a role in medicine and health care since the 4th century BC. Through human trade and migration, this plant became known throughout the world. Aloe vera is the most effective natural plant used both externally and internally and there are numerous benefits derived from this wonderful plant. The health benefits of Aloe Vera have spread all over the world.
Today, Aloe Vera is grown commercially in different parts of the world to meet the great demand for Aloe Vera gel, juice and latex which have varied applications and uses in cosmetics, food and alternative medicine.
The Aloe Vera plant is grown in warm tropical areas and cannot survive freezing temperatures. Farmers in India regularly face problems such as lack of rainfall, low ground water level, soil degradation, etc.
Dr. Indu Mehta Department of History Kumaun University, Nainital, Uttarakhand (India) Corresponding Author: Dr. Indu Mehta