This “lily of the desert” has been used for centuries as a natural cure-all for ailments inside and outside of the body. It was first given its name Aloe Vera by noted Swedish scientist Carl Von Linne (Linneus) in 1720. It is a member of the lily family and most experts think that it had originated out of Africa before mankind spread it throughout the world. It is a succulent semi tropical plant with thick fleshy lance shaped leaves that have serrate edges. It thrives best in arid desert like conditions but it does well in any climate as long as the temperature remains above freezing. Since it is hardy plant with interesting flowers and medicinal qualities, Aloe Vera is a very popular ornamental plant, earning a place in many people’s kitchen windows and gardens. It is also cultivated on a large scale in order to supply the burgeoning cosmetic and natural health care industries, which utilize the plants natural healing qualities in a plethora of creams, drinks, balms, sprays and lotions.
Nobody knows exactly when people began to utilize the different healing properties of the Aloe Vera plant. Ancient Sumerian text lists Aloe Vera as a form of purgative .The yellowish latex residue of the Aloe plant is known to help maintain healthy bowels and can be used as a laxative when taken orally. The ancient Egyptians also reportedly used it in the embalming process as well as a skin care product. It has also been reported that the famed beauty Cleopatra used Aloe as a facial cream to help maintain her famous visage. The Chinese have also been using it for over a thousand years to treat everything from sinuses to skin diseases.
Aloe first came to the attention of the Europeans during the height of the Roman era. Dioscorides, the Roman master of pharmacology was one of the first Westerners to describe it in detail and list its numerous benefits as a laxative and a soothing balm for bruises. It became a mainstay as a healing balm and purgative during the middle ages aided by an obscure passage in the New Testament. Upon discovery of the New World, Aloe found its way to the Latin and South America through Spanish missionaries who planted it their gardens.
The onset of the industrial revolution and the subsequent arrival of synthesized chemical fixes for ailments pushed back Aloe Vera’s role as a medicinal plant. While it was still employed as a home remedy by many, the scientific community downplayed its medicinal importance. During the mid twentieth century, Aloe experienced a revival of sorts as people began once again to look at traditional home remedies to help with various conditions and ailments. The medical community also began to re-look at this little wonder plant and a plethora of medical reports were released citing Aloe Vera’s ability to heal everything from periodontal disease to hair loss. Today, while the medical community still maintains strict neutrality on Aloe Veras potential as a medical cure-all, the cosmetic and natural health industry is crazy for the little green plant. Aloe Vera juice and additives are sold in health food stores around the country and many cosmetic products list Aloe as a contributing ingredient. As a plant, Aloe Vera remains extremely popular and can be found in almost any garden center that you walk into.
Yulia Berry is an independent health researcher and author of the best selling e-book on aloe vera, "Aloe - Your Miracle Doctor." She distributes a weekly newsletter regarding home remedies and has written another popular e-book "Pharmacy In Vegetables" and dozens of natural health articles published on hundreds of websites worldwide.