Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera – The Ageless Medicinal Plant
By Bill Anben
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 by noted Swedish scientist Carl Von Linne (Linneus) in 1720.
There is absolutely NO TRUTH in the myth that Carl was in his garden one afternoon wondering what to call a strange plant when his secretary, Mlle. Vera Apfelschtrudel, brought him his tea at 5.20 (1720), and he said “‘allo Vera” and decided that that would do as a name for the medicinal plant.

It is a member of the lily family and most experts think that it had originated in Africa before mankind spread it throughout the world along with many other, less useful things.

Aloe Vera is a succulent, semi-tropical plant with thick fleshy lance shaped leaves that have serrated edges. It thrives best in arid, desert like conditions but it does well in any climate as long as the temperature remains above freezing.
The author lives in an area with mild frosts and, as long as it is under cover in the winter, the plant does not seem to be affected by them. Exactly the same goes for the author.

Since it is a hardy plant with interesting flowers and medicinal qualities, 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 plant.

Ancient Sumerian text lists 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 medicinal 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. (So obscure, I can’t find it).

Upon discovery of the New World, Aloe found its way to South America through Spanish missionaries who planted it their gardens whilst religiously destroying the native culture and, indeed, the natives themselves.

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 Vera’s potential as a medical cure-all, the cosmetic and natural health industry is crazy for the little green plant. juice and additives are sold in health food stores around the world and many cosmetic products list Aloe as a contributing ingredient.

As a plant, remains extremely popular and can be found in almost any garden center that you walk into.
The author has always been a keen gardener and some years ago became quite fascinated by the fact that everything appeared to grow “for a reason”. “A weed is just a plant growing where a human doesn’t want it to”. To read more on this amazing medicinal plant and its properties, head off to his garden retreat at the address below.

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