The History of Aloe
Historical evidence indicates that aloe vera originated in the warm, dry climate
of Africa,although today the plant is found worldwide. From Europe, the Spanish carried
aloe to their New World possessions in South America and the Caribbean. Spanish missionaries
in the West always planted aloe around their settlements and carried it on their journeys
to aid the sick. Today aloe is used worldwide, particularly in the US, Canada and Japan
both internally as a drink and in cosmetics and ointments. Japan currently imports over
fifty million dollars of aloe per year to treat people with ulcers and digestive problems.
Historians have written that Aristotle persuaded Alexander the Great to conquer the
island Socotra (East Africa), in order to have enough aloe to treat the wounds of
his soldiers. African Congo hunters rubbed their bodies with aloe to reduce perspiration and
human scent, enabling them to approach their prey with less chance of detection.
Central American Indians and Mexicans continue to use the plant as their ancestors did
for burns, blister prevention, peptic and duodenal ulcers, dysentery, longevity,
sexual prowess and bladder and kidney infections. In lava, it is favored as a hair conditioner;
they claim that aloe rubbed into the scalp stimulates hair growth.
It seems impossible that the common aloe plant - member of the lily plant - the same
family as garlic and onions, could possess such miraculous healing powers for an
incredible variety of ailments. However, there is no denying that man's use of aloe dates
back over 2,300 years. Back then, a Greek named Dioscorides recorded that aloe could
be used for wounds, stomach disorders and pain, constipation, headache, itching, loss of
hair, mouth and gum diseases. kidney ailments, blistering, skin care, sunburn and
blemishes. Throughout this time, it was employed for its cure-all powers all over the
world. Have folk remedies been passed down through the ages because of superstition,
custom, or because they really work?
Can aloe vera cure ailments ranging from arthritis to acne? Many scientists
say yes! Maybe our forebears didn't know why aloe was so medicinally effective, but when
they found it producing such miracles, they knew they were on to a good thing. Now, since
aloe has been "rediscovered", we're on to a good thing too.