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Aloe Vera History — Part II

Aloe vera flowers

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Modern History of Aloe Vera:

The gel from the leaves of the Aloe vera plant has been used to treat wounds and skin infections for thousands of years. The plant is grown in sub-tropical and tropical climates. For centuries, it has been one of the most respected and utilized herbal medicines.

Since Aloe vera is most suitably grown in warm environments, it was not until the age of exploration, around 1400 AD, that knowledge of it’s healing effects was known in the colder climates of the West. Once discovered, It was quickly exported from Africa to Europe and the British Isles.

Spanish missionaries were the first to bring the plant to the New World. Reports show that Aloe vera was planted near Catholic missions, where it was used as a healing ointment for the people and priests alike.

In 1820, the United States Pharmacopoeia listed the plant as “a laxative and a skin protector,” according to Hennessee and Cook in their book, Aloe Myth, Magic, Medicine.

Aloe vera was exported worldwide by 1912, when the first commercial Aloe fields were planted in the southern United States.

It was 20 years later that C.E. Collins published a paper detailing 50 cases where Aloe vera was successfully used to heal patients suffering from burns, ulcers, and dermatitis.

One instance, according to Hennessee and Cook, describes a case where a 31-year old woman, who suffered from a serious skin disease, realized minimal scarring and skin restoration due to the use of the Aloe vera leaf.

Collins’ publication was used as a foundation for many other notable scientific studies. T.C. Barnes, of Philadelphia’s Hahneunan Medical College and Hospital, agreed with Collins’ assessments, and wrote that Aloe vera works a third faster than other skin ointments.

Throughout the 1950’s a number of studies were published confirming Aloe vera as a biogenic stimulator — helping alleviate damage from radiation burns, skin conditions, and even periodontal disease.

As the world became more familiar with the plant, numerous university, and independent studies described the healing effects of Aloe vera as a pain-reliever and an anti-inflammatory agent. During the 1970’s, the scientific elements of the plant were more closely examined and researchers discovered the wealth of amino acids, B-sitostero,l and the aspirin-like compound, salicylic acid, available in the leaves. In the 1980’s, studies documented the application of Aloe vera in patients with cancer and AIDS.

Today, Aloe vera is not only used as a medical remedy, but also in the beauty and cosmetic industries. Many popular face creams and shampoos contain the treasured gel and it is often touted as a necessary component of quality preparations for the skin and hair.

In a 2006 report for the National Center for Toxicological Research, toxicologist Mary Boudreau, wrote that Aloe vera is “perhaps the most popular herbal remedy employed today.”

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