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Aloe Vera: The ancient Afrikan medicine plant


The succulent leaves of the Aloe Vera plant are one of the miracles of Nature.

If you break off a leave from the fleshy stem, the plant will quickly heal itself to seal in the vital juices. If you cut a segment off one of the leaves, the cut end will heal over where it is sliced to remain plump and green for several days. Aloe Vera will keep for weeks in a refrigerator.

Aloe Vera linne or Aloe Barbadensis Miller is a succulent plant from the Aloe family of over 400 different species originating from the continent of African. Its thick leaves contain the water supply necessary for the plant to survive long periods of drought. These leaves have a high capacity of retaining the water in very warm and dry climates ensuring that the plant can survive very harsh conditions where most other vegetation disappears.

The transparent naturally occurring gel, obtained from a freshly cut leaf, helps the healing of cuts and burns. It is used commercially in Shampoo, sunburn lotion, burn ointment and it is reputed to be the most effective cure for radiation burns caused by x-ray and exposure to atomic radiation.

Called by a variety of names, the curative properties of Aloe Vera have been well known for many thousands of years by Africans, and transmitted to many cultures across the globe. Its use is just as wide spread. It is called Medicine Plant, Burn Plant, First-aid plant, and miracle plant, single bible, quinine leaf. Unlike many other long-forgotten natural remedies, Aloe Vera has retained a respected place in the medical arsenal of many ordinary people.

Over the last 50 years it has attracted the attention of the scientific community and research programs abound in both Europe and America to study and document the properties of Aloe Vera. It is in fact a multimillion-dollar industry and growing fast attracting considerable attention within the network-marketing sector.

During the end of the seventies, Aloe Vera gel became very popular in the USA as a moisturising ingredient in cosmetics. Its popularity has grown to such an unprecedented extent, that it is now the most widely used ingredient in skin care products and can be found on the ingredient list of virtually all-cosmetic products. Even dog or cat creams contain Aloe and you can now buy tissues impregnated with Aloe.

It is used extensively throughout the African world for medicinal and cosmetic purposes and is known around the world by different names. Historical documents of Egypt and the rest of North Africa, Rome, Greece, India, and China report it’s use for both medicinal and cosmetics applications.

The fact is, Aloe Vera is another of Africa’s many treasures that give life and vitality to the world but is now regarded as part of world culture and heritage.


History - Origins – Legends

Mankind's use of Aloe Vera dates back to the misty time of unrecorded history, during the beginnings of human civilisation along the valley of the River Nile in the north east corner of Africa.

Aloe taken internally has proven beneficial to many who suffer from a myriad of illnesses both minor and life threatening. The healing power of Aloe Vera is recorded in every phase of history.

The earliest written record is in Kemetic (Egyptian) literature dating back to the early dynastic periods, of around 3500BCE, widely acclaiming its medicinal value and ancient use for centuries before that time. The many uses of Aloe Vera recorded in those early periods included applications for wounds, insomnia, stomach disorder, pain, constipation, haemorrhoids, itching, headache, hair loss, mouth and gum disease, kidney ailments, blistering, skin care, sunburn, blemishes etc.

Both Cleopatra and Nefertiti are said to have attributed their beauty to the use of Aloe Gel. They are reputed to have enforced a strict regime of beauty and health care in a time and place where health and beauty were recognised as being one and the same.

Other ancient records describe its uses for skin care, protection against the sun, wind, fire and cold, healing of small wounds, relieving insect stings and bites, scratches, scalds, bruises, cuts, abrasions, urticaria, acne, poison ivy, blemishes, allergic conditions, welts, fistula, ulcerated skin, legions, eczema and generally damaged skin.

It is a matter of historical records, that Aristotle persuaded his mentor, Alexander the (so-called great) Greek, to conquer the island of Socroto off the East Coast of Africa, for the sole purpose of obtaining sufficient amount of Aloe to maintain his army medical stores. This was the primary medicine used to heal the wounds of his soldiers.

The diaries documenting the work of the missionaries who followed Columbus to the New World are filled with many references to the healing properties of Aloe Vera. Those same records document the widespread use of Aloe by the ancient peoples of Mexico, Central and South America both for its medicinal properties and in association with fertility and longevity.

As western civilisation became more dominant with their centre of civilisation in the temperate zones, Aloe Vera, like other tropical medicinal plants fell into disuse in orthodox medicine. Since the tropical plant could not survive the cold temperatures other remedies from the western temperate cultures were substituted.

During the nineteenth century the Aloe Vera plant was brought from Africa to other tropical climates for cultivation.

Throughout African and the African Diaspora, Aloe Vera remains an important part of traditional medicine and is widely cultivated as a landscape plant. Its properties are widely understood and appreciated and it uses widespread.


Modern Day Use

While the use of Aloe Vera remained prominent among ordinary folks and particularly within non-Western/non-European cultures it is only recently that it has started to come back into popular use within western/European society.

With the invention of x-ray and the atomic bomb, radiation burn caused skin ulceration, which were almost incurable. In desperation, doctors, prepared to try anything that worked, soon began to take note of the old folk’s remedy of Aloe Vera and found that it worked better than anything else did.

As there were no known techniques at the time for preserving the gel, preventing it from spoiling, the leaves had to be shipped from the tropics.

Since then, there has been an explosive increase in the use of Aloe Vera and there has been a proliferation of research programs in numerous countries.

However, most of these researches have only served to confirm what has been known from ancient times starting with the ancient Africans of Kemet. Recent experience and research has confirmed Aloe Vera as a tried, tested, extremely safe and non-toxic remedy.


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