Aloe Vera's 4,000 Year History
Aloe vera has been used for many purposes throughout history. As recently as this century, published studies show its use in arthritis, high cholesterol, interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome, nonbacterial prostatitis, chronic pelvic pain, radiation burns, heart disease, diabetes, and immune system disorders such as AIDS. In fact, if you are a diabetic, you should monitor your blood sugar closely when taking concentrated forms of aloe vera. It can noticeably reduce your need for insulin.
Medical uses of aloe vera have been reported in the medical literature for over 50 years, although it has been reported in the botanical and naturopathic literature for many more years. Scientific studies exist that support the antibacterial and antifungal effect of substances in aloe vera. Studies and case reports provide support for the use of aloe vera in the treatment of radiation ulcers and stasis ulcers in humans, and burn and frostbite injuries in experimental animals. Modern clinical medical use of aloe began in the 1930s with reports of successful treatment of X-ray and radium burns. Aloe vera has also been shown to be of benefit in numerous studies in the treatment of burns, frostbite, and skin abrasion injury.
Americans recognized aloe vera as the "burn plant",
"medicine plant", and "the mystery plant".
Indian medicine men jealously guarded their knowledge of its
uses. Aristotle persuaded Alexander the Great to conquer the
island of Socotra to secure the aloe grown there for his wounded
soldiers. Medical healers of past civilizations prescribed
aloe vera for a large variety of illnesses and ailments. In
about 1750 BC, Sumerian clay tablets depicted the use of aloe
vera for medical purposes. Even earlier, perhaps as early
as 4000 BC, drawings of the aloe plant were found on temple
walls in the tombs of the Pharaohs. The Egyptians called it
the "Plant of Immortality". By 1500 BC, aloe
is mentioned in Egypt's Papyrus Embers where formulas
containing aloe are described for a variety of illnesses,
both external and internal. By 600 BC, the use of aloe appears
in the Persian Empire, then throughout the Arab world and
into India. The spread of its usage is undoubtedly attributable
to Arab traders who plied their wares through much of the
civilized world of their time. Eastern women valued aloe for
the "beauty of their skin". Nomadic people
would dig up their valuable aloe plants and carry them live
to every new campsite for fear that they might not find them
growing in their new location. There are five references to
aloe in the Bible: John 19:39-40, Numbers 24:6, Psalms 45:8,
Proverbs 7:17, Song of Solomon 4:14.
In history Aloe vera has been used to treat human and medical problems from A to Z, and many more uses for the leaf have been suggested in contemporary literature:
allergies, abscesses, abrasions, asthma, acne,
acid indigestion, allergic reactions, anemia, arterial insufficiency,
arthritis, athlete's foot, AIDS
B bad breath, burns, boils, bursitis, baldness, blisters/blistering, bruises, bronchitis, bowel regularity, bloody scours in calves, body cleanser, bladder infections, blood pressure
C cancer, Candida, corneal ulcers, contusions, canker sores, cold sores, cuts, cataracts, chapped/ chafed skin and lips, cholesterol (high), coughs, colds, colitis, carbuncles, colic, cradle cap, cystitis, chemotherapy, constipation
D dermatitis, dandruff, dry skin, denture (gum) sores, diaper rash, dishpan hands, dysentery, diabetes, depression
E F edema, erysipelas, epidermitis, Epstein-Barr virus, exanthema, eczema, enteritis in fowl, eyes, earache, fibromyalgia, feline leukemia (FeLV), favus, fissured nipples, fever blisters, fungus
G genital herpes, gingivitis, glaucoma, gangrene
H heat rash/prickly heat, headache of all kinds, hemorrhoid, heartburn, high blood pressure, herpes zoster/simplex
I impetigo, inflamed joints, insomnia, ingrown toenails, infertility due to anovulatory cycles, indigestion, insect bites, interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome
J K jaundice, joints, keratosis follicularis, kidney infections
L laxation, leprosy, laryngitis, lupus, liver ailments, leukemia
M multiple sclerosis, mastitis in cattle, mouth irritations, muscle cramps/strains, moles
N nausea of all kinds
O onycholysis, odor control of chronic ulcers, oral disorders
P pelvic pain, pinworms, psoriasis, prostatitis, poison ivy/oak, pancreas
R razor burn, radiation burns, radiation dermatitis, rashes
S stings, styes, sprains, senile moles, sores of all kinds, seborrhea, stretch marks, sore throat, shingles, staph infections, sunburns, sciatic nerve, sickle-cell disease, silicon toxicity
T tonsillitis, tendinitis, trachoma, tuberculosis, tumors
U ulcerations of all kinds, urticaria, ulcers (peptic and duodenal)
V vaginitis, venereal sores, venous stasis, varicose veins
W wind burn, wheal, wounds of all kinds, warts
X Y Z X-ray burns, yeast infections, zoster (shingles)
Excerpts From: "Aloe Vera: a Mission Discovered"
By Lee Ritter
The chief engineer for a large, international pharmaceutical company said to me recently, "Lee, we've known for some time about the benefits of aloe vera but there's no incentive for us to put up the multi-millions of dollars it would cost to get it approved as a drug by the Federal Drug Administration." Estimated costs for obtaining FDA approval of a new drug can run from $100 to $300 million. When a company finishes its research and obtains FDA approval, there's nothing to patent. There is no proprietary interest. Aloe vera is a natural product protected from patent. Every drug company in the world would take advantage of the research and start producing aloe drugs. The bottom line is, profits aren't there.
Medical healers of past civilizations, not having to deal with bureaucratic administrations, prescribed aloe vera for a large variety of illnesses and ailments. In about 1750 BC, Sumerian clay tablets indicated the use of aloe vera for medical purposes. It appears that even earlier, perhaps as early as 4000 BC, drawings of it were found on temple walls in the tombs of the Pharaohs. It is said that the Egyptians called it the "Plant of Immortality". It may have been one of the substances used in the embalming practice. The traditional use may have carried down to the time of Christ where we read of aloe being applied to the body of Christ: 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). Perhaps the Jews learned of aloe during the time they were in the land of Egypt.
There are five references in the Bible to aloe (including the one in John just mentioned): As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as the trees of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters (Numbers 24:6). All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, outof the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad (Psalms 45:8). I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon (Proverbs 7:17). Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices (Song of Solomon 4:14).
By 1500 BC, aloe is mentioned in Egypt's Papyrus Embers where formulas containing aloe are described for a variety of illnesses, both external and internal. By about 600 BC the use of aloe appears in the Persian Empire, then throughout the Arab world and into India. The spread of its usage is undoubtedly attributable to Arab traders who plied their wares through much of the then civilized world.
Aloe vera, known as Ghee-guar-ka-palhtha in India, is still used in that country for treating a variety of illnesses, including ophthalmological disorders, enlargement of the spleen, hepatitis, skin disorders, musculoskeletal disorders, menstrual disorders, and as a purgative. In 1985, O. P. Agarwal, a medical doctor in India, presented to the American College of Angiology a paper reporting astounding results using aloe vera in the treatment of 5,000 patients with atheromatous heart disease and diabetes.
In the first century AD, the Greeks were mentioning aloe in their writings. Celsius saw its use as a purgative. Pliny used aloe in the treatment of leprous sores. In his Greek Herbal, Dioscorides indicated its use in the treatment of skin disorders such as boils, ulcerated genitals, dry itchy skin, bruises, hemorrhoids, tonsils, gums, mouth pain, and as an eye medicine: Aloe is of a strong scent, and very bitter to ye taster, but it is but of one root having a root as a stake. It grows in India very much, from when also ye extracted juice is brought. It hath a power of binding, or procuring sleep, of drying, of thickening of bodies, and loosening of ye belly, and of cleansing of ye stomach being drank ye quantity of 2 spoonfuls with water cold, or warm milk; it stops ye spitting of blood; and it cleanseth ye Icterus. And it being swallowed also with Rosin, or taken either with water or sod honey it looseth ye belly, but ye quantity of 3 drams doth fully purge. But being mixed with other purging medicines it makes them less hurtful to ye stomach. By being sprinkled on dry, it conglutinates wounds, and brings to a cicatrix boils, and represseth them; but it properly healeth exulcerated genitals, and conglutinates ye broken preputia of boys. It cures also the Condylomata, and ye chaps of ye seat being mixed with sweet wine. And it stops ye fluxes of blood that come from Hemorrhoids, and it brings to a cicatrix ye pterygia, takes away blacks and blues, and ye Hypoxia with honey. And it assuageth Scabrities and the itching of ye eye corners, and ye headache being anointed with acetum and roseceum on ye forehead and the temples, and with wine it stays ye hair falling off, and with honey and wine it is good for ye tonsils, as also the gums and all griefs in ye mouth.
In Africa, tribes have used aloe to treat colds and to eliminate human scent. Probably brought to the Americas by the Spanish, aloe has been used for colds, to protect children from insect bites, as a healing gel for burns, intestinal disorders, ulcers, and kidney and bladder infections. In the Philippines, it was used to treat beriberi sufferers and in Malaysia to relieve headaches.
There is little recorded use in Europe that I am aware of. However, this is probably attributable to the climate. Aloe would have had to be shipped from Africa and its effectiveness by the time of arrival would have been most questionable. If not effective, its use would be quickly discontinued. It has had considerable usage in Russia in recent periods. In this century it has been the subject of Russian medical studies in the areas of dermatological use, respiratory ailments, including tuberculosis, gum infection, as a hemostatic agent following tonsillectomy, and in improving small intestine function.
I submit that had aloe not had beneficial healing results, its usage would have been rapidly discontinued in the civilizations I have referenced. That a plant found in nature has such positive effects should be no surprise. Over 300 well-known drugs used in medicine today came from plants. Cortisone was developed from the Mexican yam. Quinine came from the bark of the cinchona tree. From curare we obtain the skeletal muscle relaxant used in surgery. A frequently used pupil dilator comes from the belladonna plant. Digitalis, used in heart ailments, was derived from foxglove. Snakeroot provides a sedative for hypertension. Medicines used in treating Hodgkin's disease and childhood leukemia were developed from the Madagascar periwinkle. Morphine comes from the opium poppy and cocaine from the coca plant. From fungus ergot we obtain a drug that stops bleeding in childbirth and relieves migraine headaches. And the list goes on.
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