Origin: In the 4th century BC, Greek doctors picked Aloe Vera from the Island of Socotra situated in the Indian Ocean. The Egyptian Queens, who was crowned with the title of ‘the most beautiful women who ever lived, Nefertiti (1353 BCE) and Queen Cleopatra VII (69-30 BCE) used the magical Aloe Vera as part of their daily beauty regime. In 333 BC Alexander the Great was advised by his mentor Aristotle to capture the Island of Socotra, famous for its Aloe Vera. The captured Aloe Vera was used to cure injured soldiers. In the ancient Nile Valley civilization of Kemet Aloe Vera was used for medical reasons, beauty regime etc.
Many historical tales are intertwined with Aloe Vera. One of the first mentions of Aloe Vera dates back to 4000 years in a collection of Sumerian clay tablets dated 2100 BC. The Egyptian Papyrus Ebers from 1552 BC talk about Aloe Vera as a laxative. Since bygone era, this goodness filled plant is used medically and cosmetically. For many centuries, this plant has been used therapeutically in China, Japan, India, Greece, Egypt, Mexico, and Japan.
The wonder plant Aloe Vera belongs to the family of lily plant titled Aloe barbadensis. Since it has a cactus feel attached, it's often incorrectly addressed as "Desert Cacti". The name Aloe comes from the Arabic word "alloeh" or Hebrew "halal" spelling a bitter shiny substance. Around 500 species of mysterious Aloe exist across Africa, Middle East and Indian Ocean islands. Aloe Vera is the most travelled plant and thus it's difficult to pinpoint its exact ancestral home. However, a recent research suggests that Aloe Vera originated in the Arabian Peninsula.
A study published in Indian Journal of Dermatology states that in ancient Egypt Aloe Vera was addressed as "that plant of immortality."
In 1964, Dr. Bill C. Coates, a pharmacist in Texas, USA dedicated his life to learning the benefits of this plant and extraction of its gel. He succeed in 1968 and since then the world is agog with Aloe Vera gel.
Ayurveda has titled Aloe Vera as Kumari meaning young girl. This name is courtesy its anti-aging properties. Its smooth texture has also won it the name ghiritkumari. Its looked as a rasayana (anti-aging elixir). According to Ayurveda, Aloe Vera balances all the three doshas.
Scientifically: A recent research concludes that Aloe Vera is used for treating first to second degree burns. Internal intake has also been associated with enhanced blood glucose levels and lower blood lipids in hyperlipidaemic patients. In addition a study published in General Dentistry states that Aloe Vera in tooth gels is excellent for fighting cavities.
Evidence suggests that Aloe Vera extracts cure wound and burn healing, minor skin infections, sebaceous cyst etc. Digestive issues are also addressed by Aloe Vera.
Researchers at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, published a study in the journal Molecules. As per this study, Aloe Vera flower and leaf extracts have antioxidant properties. The authors stated that "A. Vera extracts from leaf skin and flowers can be considered as good natural antioxidant sources."
A study published in Nutritional Neuroscience discovered that Aloe vera reduces depression and enhances memory in mice.
In dermatology industry, it is used as an astringent, moisturizer, humidifier and cleanser. Several studies suggest that it improves skin texture, reduces wrinkles and cures acne, herpes, red spots, psoriasis, eczema, mycosis and guards against pollution.
Aloe Vera is packed with the goodness of vitamin A, C, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12 and E. It's pregnant with approximately twenty minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium and zinc. It holds twenty of the twenty –two amino acids that humans require. To name a few – copper, selenium, and zinc. Its enzymes help with inflammation. It has salicylic acid that reduces breakouts. It is rich in saponins that ensures it works as an antiseptic.
Usage: Traditionally, in India people eat Aloe stir fried. Cosmetic companies across the globe add Aloe Vera to makeup, moisturizers, soaps, sunscreens, incense, shaving cream, conditioners, serum and shampoos. Pharmaceutical industry has been using Aloe Vera in ointments and gel preparations.
Below are some DIY with aloe vera:
- Mix Aloe Vera and lime juice. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then discover a beautiful clean skin.
- Take 2 tablespoons of fresh aloe vera gel with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix it and apply on the face or body. This helps in removing tan and lightens the skin.
- Take a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of aloe vera gel. Mix them together with 2 pinches of cinnamon powder. Apply this on the face and leave it on for 10 minutes. This reduces inflammation on the skin and reduces acne.
- Take a tablespoon of aloe vera gel and add a few drops of tea tree oil to it. Apply this concoction to the active acne and it will reduce and soothe the acne.
- Take a tablespoon of aloe vera gel with a tablespoon of coconut oil and sugar each. Mix them together and use this scrub on the body and face. This scrub removes the dead skin and gives smooth skin.
- Extract a cup of aloe vera gel and add a tablespoon of coconut oil to it. Apply this to the scalp and the hair length. Leave it on 45 minutes and shampoo after that. This helps in promoting hair growth.