Aloe Through the Ages: The History of Aloe and Healing

A simple succulent plant has made a massive impact on the world of medicine over the past several millennia. According to the Indian Journal of Dermatology’s review of this healing herb, “the name Aloe Vera derives from the Arabic word ‘Alloeh’ meaning ‘shining bitter substance,’ while ‘vera’ in Latin means ‘true.’” If you break open the firm, spiny leaves of this dark green plant, you’ll find a thick, cool gel within. Numerous cultures across the world have regarded this soothing substance as magical throughout the centuries. At Earth’s Daughter, we provide 99.75 percent organic, pure Aloe Vera gel to help our patients take care of their skin naturally. We are proud to be a part of this powerful plant’s long legacy, its history of healing.

Ancient Aloe

Aloe Vera has numerous archaic origins. Aloe Medical Group International explains: “[some of] the earliest documentation of Aloe was discovered on the clay boards from Nippur, which date back as long ago as 2,200 BC.” The Mesopotamian peoples used Aloe to cleanse their intestines and “believed only a divine plant such as Aloe had the natural power to exorcise the demons” that made them sick. Queens Cleopatra and Nefertiti used Aloe Vera to refresh their skin and maintain their beauty. Healing with Aloe Vera explains that, up to 6,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians called Aloe Vera “the Blood of the Gods.” They used it to “embalm the dead…fight many diseases…fix ailments within the intestinal tract [by drinking it, and] protect their skin.”

Thousands of years later, ALOElf describes how Grecian herbalist and physician Pedanius Dioscorides penned “the first detailed description of Aloe” in the first century, AD. He lauded aloe as a virtual cure-all. His physician peers, Pliny and Galen, also extolled the virtues of Aloe. The magic of Aloe was not restricted to the Greco-Roman community—according to Dr. Christopher’s Herbal Legacy, “the Hindu people…named it the ‘silent healer,’” Chinese healers called it a “harmonic remedy…Russians called Aloe Vera ‘the Elixir of Longevity’…[and] the native American Indians used Aloe for its emollient and rejuvenating powers.”

Biblical Proportions

Aloe Vera appears multiple times throughout the Old and New Testament. ALOElf writes: “Aloe was employed as an embalming ingredient. In the Gospel of St. John (19:39-40), the body of Christ was wrapped in linen and a mixture of myrrh and Aloe.” According to Scribd, another famous Biblical figure, King Solomon, is “known to have great knowledge of the natural plant,” which he apparently cultivated and used in his wedding. As a result of his affinity for Aloe, it’s even mentioned in the famous Song of Solomon. Numbers 24:6 also describes Aloe as a god-given plant: “as the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river’s side, as the trees of Aloes which the Lord hath planted.”

Panacea Plantation

As word about the healing properties of Aloe spread, many began to cultivate it as a medicinal crop. In the fourth century BC, Alexander the Great “used Aloe Vera to treat his wounded soldiers,” according to ALOElf. When he sent his soldiers to “the southern Yemen island of Socotra,” he had them grow Aloe there, apparently at the behest of famous philosopher Aristotle. In the following centuries, Socotra became an important plantation for this panacea—Dr. Christopher describes how “the Aloe produced was used for trade to other countries such as Tibet, India, and China.” The Aloe market continued to expand over the next thousand years.

Aloe in the New World

The exploration of the Americas both improved and inhibited Aloe Vera’s medical popularity. Christopher Columbus brought Aloe Vera with him on his journeys to heal his crew and the British East India Company began trading Aloe (grown in Socotra and Zanzibar) during the seventeenth century. Furthermore, ALOElf notes: “the Dutch established plantations in Barbados, Curacao, Aruba, and Bonaire” in the 1600’s. Despite this boom in growth, Aloe Vera’s reputation suffered and its efficacy diminished. Dr. Christopher writes: “Aloe Vera lost its potency for healing when it started being imported. The pulp worked best when fresh.”

Recent Research and Resurgence

Aloe Vera resurfaced in the 1930s clinical trials demonstrated its success in healing skin burns. Interest in the plant’s healing abilities continued to grow over the next decades, as research continued to confirm its capabilities. Dr. Christopher explains: “by the 1970’s there was a breakthrough in processing techniques…[manufacturers finally] stabilized the leaf gel [so it could be both potent and preserved] using natural ingredients and cold pressing.”

Experience Aloe From Earth’s Daughter

At Earth’s Daughter, we offer cold-pressed Aloe Vera gel to deliver millennia of benefits in the modern day. Purchase a bottle today to experience its healing abilities for yourself.