The history of aloe vera

aloe vera history

The use of aloe vera in herbal medicine has a history of over 5000 years. All civilisations without exception have used the plant as a therapeutic remedy. Aloe vera appears in Chinese and Sumerian writings around 3000 B.C.

Not in vain, aloe vera anti-inflammatory and pain relieving effects are written on papyrus. In the time of the pharaohs, the Egyptians idealised aloe vera calling it “the plant of immortality” and "the elixir of eternal life”. It is said that Cleopatra used aloe vera on a daily basis.

In Arabic culture, aloe vera has been known since ancient times as the “flower of the desert”. Arabs were the first to sell aloe vera in the Middle East.

The medicinal value of aloe vera has been also appreciated in other regions of the world. The Jíbaro Indians called aloe vera, "the doctor of the sky" and also "the fountain of youth", considering it as one of their sacred plants.

In the Greco-Roman era, illustrious physicians such as Aristotle, Hippocrates and Dioscorides, among others, already emphasized the valuable properties of aloe vera to prevent hair loss, heal wounds, boils, eye conditions, skin affections, or alleviate genital ulcers. It is said that Aristotle persuaded Alexander the Great to invade the island of Socotra for its aloe vera plantations, which would help the healing of his warriors.

Christopher Columbus, who always tried to carry aloe on his longests trips, is credited with this famous quotation: "Everything is okay: we have aloe on board".

The benefits of aloe vera were re-discovered again at the end of World War II, after proving its effects on injured people's burns from Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear explosions. In 1968, the stabilisation of aloe vera gel became a reality, allowing it to be transported worldwide. However, the use of synthetic drugs in modern medicine managed to eclipse aloe vera during a few decades. Today, the benefits of aloe vera are scientifically recognized and its use has re-emerged within the world of natural medicine: it is both a "Novel Food" and a "Functional Food", as a food supplement.

Nowadays, aloe vera is mainly used by the cosmetic industry.