Aloe Vera History in Modern Times
Authentic facts, testimonies and legendary narrations recount the Aloe Vera history. The curative virtues of Aloe Vera were already known during ancient times.
It was among the Sumerians, during the times of the Kings of Akkad, where we find on clay tablettes the first allusions to the therapeutic use of Aloe Vera.
We also find the Aloe Vera plant painted on the Egyptian vases of the archaic epoch. The “Egyptian book of remedies” on the famous Ebers papyrus (15th century A.D.) also mentions Aloe Vera among the healing formulas having already existed 3000 years before our times.
In the Hindu culture, the Aloe Vera plant retains an important place among the sacred plants of the Atharva Veda where it is named “the silent healer”.
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In the Bible, it is mentioned in several of the sacred books. During the period of the persecutions of the early Christians by the Romans, they forced them to burn incense in their temples as offerings to the Roman Gods.
To avoid this obligation which they found detestable, certain Christian communities of the primitive church replaced the official incense made from the wood of aloe, by their own “sacred incense” made with Aloe Vera, mixed with myrrh and benjoin.
The Aloe Vera history is found with the ancient Egyptians to have the reputation as a beauty product for women. The Pharaohs considered it an “elixir of long life”. It was traditional to bring a plant of Aloe Vera to the funeral as a gift, which was a symbol of a new life.
The Aloe Vera planted along the route leading to the Valley of the Kings and that around the pyramids, accompanied the Pharaoh during his passage to the beyond. They believed it would feed and care for him on his journey in eternity.
When it came into flower, it was the sign that the Pharaoh had reached the “other bank”. The priests used the Aloe Vera plant during the funeral rituals by incorporating it in the embalming formula under the name of “the plant of immortality”.
The ancient Egyptians, inventors of the syringe also used it as an enema. The ancients also considered that Aloe Vera had cosmetic virtues. It is said that Cleopatra owed the brilliant look in her eyes to a lotion made of Aloe Vera. This secret came of one of her Numidian slave. The beauty of the skin of Queen Nefertiti is claimed to come from the baths made of the pulp of Aloe Vera.
Greece and Rome
In Aloe Vera history the Greeks believed it symbolized beauty, patience, fortune and good health. Hippocrates in one of his treatise describes some of the curative properties of Aloe Vera:
• Hair growth,
• Healing of tumors,
• Relief of dysentery
• Stomach aches.
It is said that in the year 330 B.C., Alexander the Great had been wounded by an enemy arrow during the siege of Gaza. The wound became badly infected during his conquering cavalcade across Egypt and Libya.
While at the oasis of Amon he was proclaimed son of Zeus. A priest, sent by the famous Aristotle (his tutor and mentor) treated his bad wound with oil based Aloe Vera from the island of Socotra which healed the wound.
It is also said that it was Aristotle who convinced Alexander the Great to undertake the expedition to conquer the island of Socotra in the Indian Ocean to ensure the supply of Aloe Vera. It was even said that the juice of the Aloe Vera plant rendered the soldiers invulnerable.
The Aloe Vera history reports that the Phoenicians dried the pulp extracted from the leaves and placed it in bags made of goat skins and then exported them throughout the Greco- Roman world. It was during the Punic wars that the Romans discovered the astounding virtues of the Aloe Vera plant upon seeing their wounded Carthaginian prisoners using large quantities to treat their wounds.
The Aloe Vera history in the first century of our era, Celsius, one of the precursors of medicine, also praised the merits of Aloe Vera. As for Dioscoride, a Greek doctor who had served many years in the Roman army, he described with great enthusiasm in his “De materia medica” the properties of Aloe Vera, where he mentioned its virtues:
• Coagulating the blood of the wounds,
• Heal open wounds,
• Heal boils and hemorrhoids.
• He also claimed that the fresh pulp of aloe stopped the falling of hair and cures eye inflations.
Pline the Old (23-79 A.D.) described in his book “Natural History” an original way to cure dysentery by injecting aloe juice into the rectum.
Aloe Vera history is still to be written.
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