Sunday, 5 January 2014

What is aloe vera

Aloe vera, sometimes described as a "wonder plant", is a short-stemmed shrub that only occurs in cultivation - it cannot be found in the wild. Some related Aloes occur naturally in North Africa. An Aloe is a genus containing more than 500 species of flowering succulent plants.
The Aloe vera leaves are succulent, erect and form a dense rosette. Many uses are made from the gel obtained from the plant's leaves
Aloe vera has been the subject of scientific study for the last few years, along with other members of the Aloe genus regarding several claimed therapeutic properties.
 According to Kew Gardens, England's royal botanical center of excellence, Aloe vera has been used for centuries and is currently more popular than ever. It is cultivated worldwide, primarily as a crop for "Aloe gel", which comes from the leaf.
Aloe vera is widely used today in:
  • food - it is approved by the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) as a natural flavoring
  • cosmetics
  • food supplements
  • herbal remedies
The earliest records of Aloe vera being used by humans appear in the Ebers Papyrus (Egypcian medical papyrus) from 16th century BC. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Dematology, in ancient Egypt they called Aloe vera "that plant of immortality". The authors added that the plant has been used therapeutically for many centuries in China, Japan, India, Greece, Egypt, Mexico and Japan.

Cleopatra and Nefertiti, two queens of Egypt, apparently used Aloe vera to keep their skin soft. It was used to treat soldiers' wounds by Christopher Columbus and Alexander the Great.

Pedanius Dioscorides (circa 40-90 AD) a Greek physician, pharmacologist and botanist, mentioned Aloe vera and its therapeutic qualities in "De Mataria Medica", a 5-volume encyclopedia about medical substances and herbal medicine - it was widely read for over 1,500 years.

Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23-79), better known as Pliny the Elder, a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, mentioned Aloe vera's therapeutic benefits in "Natural History", an early encyclopedia - one of the major single works to have survived from the Roman Empire.

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