The Ancient ‘Plant of Immortality’ That Treats Over 50 Medical Conditions
Known as “the plant of immortality” by the Ancient Egyptians, and treasured by numerous subsequent cultures, aloe vera it still known today for its many health benefits. For millennia it has been used to treat more than 50 medical conditions, from obesity to burns, dermatitis, ulcers, asthma, diabetes, acne, and even leprosy.
The Amazing Properties of Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera is approximately 95% water, but the other 5% is made up of extremely high levels of healthy enzymes. The very special plant has more than 200 bioactive compounds such as minerals, enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, and polysaccharides, which all improve nutrient absorption in the body. It is also rich in calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper, potassium, and manganese. It boasts anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties which help detoxify the body and support the immune system. It also contains the vitamin B12, which is normally only found in animal based foods and it is important in the creation of new red blood cells, making it invaluable to vegetarians. It is native to Africa and parts of the Middle East, but can be grown in any home, making it accessible to anyone. It once was, and still remains, one of the world’s most popular and widely used remedies.
The gel-like substance inside the aloe vera leaf has extensive health properties ( CC by SA 2.0 )
A Millennia-Old Treatment
The earliest known use of the aloe vera plant dates back 6,000 years to the Ancient Egyptians. The plant was known to hold the secrets to beauty, health, and immortality, hence it was known as “the plant of immortality.” Both Cleopatra and Nefertiti were known to use and value the juice of the plant as part of their daily beauty routines. Even the dead were embalmed with aloe vera due to its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. This was important because the Ancient Egyptians believed that stopping the physical decomposition process would lead to eternal life. Along with embalming the dead, aloe would be given as a gift to the deceased pharaohs at their funeral ceremonies. A man’s wealth and esteem for the pharaoh were shown by the amount of aloe, in pounds, that he brought as an offering.
Deceased pharaohs were brought aloe vera as an offering ( CC by SA 2.0 )
Ancient Records Reveal Wide-Ranging Uses of Aloe
Found in Thebes in 1858, the “papyrus of Eber” from 1,550 BCE, the time of Amen-Hotep, document the anti-inflammatory and pain soothing properties of the plant. The Mahometans of Egypt thought of aloe vera as a religious symbol. They believed that the holy symbol of the plant hanging in a doorway would protect them from slander and evil influences. The Egyptians also used the plant in the production of papyrus and as a treatment for tuberculosis. Similarly, documentation about aloe vera was found on clay boards from Nippur which date back to 2,200 BCE. At this time, the Ancient Mesopotamians were using the plant as a body detoxifier, as illness was seen as demonic possession and the divine plant used its natural powers to expel the demons.
The Ebers Papyrus (c. 1550 BC) from Ancient Egypt refers to the anti-inflammatory and pain soothing properties of the plant ( CC by SA 3.0 )
Cart Loads of Aloe for the Battlefield
In the time of Alexander the Great, aloe was also being used as a medicinal treatment. It has been documented that Alexander used aloe juice to heal the wounds of his warriors on the battlefield. He even went as far as having transportable carts of the plant in order to have fresh supplies at the ready during his battle campaigns. It is said that Aristotle convinced Alexander to capture the Island Socotra specifically to gain possession of the aloe groves therein.
Aloe vera on the island of Socotra ( Aloes.wz.cz)
Aloe in Ancient Rome
During the reign of Nero, in the 1 st century AD, the physician and naturalist Dioscorides journeyed with the Roman armies in search of new methods of healing. He wrote several books, the first of which was “De Materia Medica” in 41-68 AD, teaching pharmaceutics, which included prescriptions and treatments for numerous illnesses. In a chapter on plant therapy, he describes aloe vera as one of his favourite healing plants. He recommends that the juice of the plant be used for numerous physical disorders such as the treatment of wounds, gastrointestinal discomfort, gingivitis, arthralgia, skin irritation, sunburn, acne, hair loss, and many more. Pliny the Elder, a contemporary physician, confirmed in his “Natural History, the discoveries of Dioscorides, but included the healing of leprosy sores and anti-perspirant to the list of aloe’s uses.