Aloe has risen to great heights as one of the kings of the plant world due to its amazing ability to heal the human body inside and out. Even with such wonderful power, aloe still holds a hint of mystery for some people. The most commonly asked question in this regard is, “Where does Aloe come from?”
Classification of the Species
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the species for the Genus Aloe is Aloe Vera. The botanical name of the most sought after Aloe Vera plant is known as Aloe vulgaris (common aloe) and Aloe barbadensis miller.
In terms of scientific classification, Aloe Vera is from the Domain Eukaryota (organisms whose cells possess a nucleus enclosed within membranes), the Kingdom Plantae (plants), the Subkingdom Tracheobionta (vascular plants), the Superdivision Spermatophyta (seed plants), Division Magnoliophyta (flowering plants), Class Liliopsida (monocotyledons), Subclass Liliidae (monocot), Order Liliales (lily), Family Aloaceae (aloe family), Genus Aloe L. (aloe) and Species Aloe Vera (Barbados aloe).
History of Aloe
Recent data shows that there are approximately 580 species of the Genus Aloe ranging in numerous forms, colors and sizes. However, there are only about 300 species of Aloe Vera (true aloe) suitable for medical applications or human consumption. It has been further established that almost 25% (120 species) of aloes today are used for medicine with less than 10 Aloe species traded commercially.
The actual discovery of aloes dates back to prehistoric times as seen in the prehistoric rock art by bushmen. The earliest documentation was found in Nippur (Mesopotamia) on clay boards from 2,200 BC. The revolutionary, first known written reports about the benefits of the Aloe Vera plant spans back over 6,000 years to ancient Egypt.
With this historical physical evidence, it is concluded that the origin of Aloe Vera is from Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Madagascar. So, the trading of Aloe began in a historic time period. Along the way, Aloe Vera received many adopted names, but it is often called “The Healing Plant” or “The Ancient Healing Plant.”
Common Folk Tales
In ancient Egypt, Neferneferuaten Nefertiti, the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten and Cleopatra VII Philopator both highly valued Aloe Vera juice making it a part of their daily ritual for health, beauty and skin care. The common belief was that a person could possess eternal life on a spiritual and physical level.
The Greek also learned the power of its benefits as Alexander the Great relied on it as a mighty medical treatment for his soldiers to heal their battle wounds. It is said that Alexander the Great transported carts of growing Aloe Vera to always have a fresh supply for his many war campaigns.
The well-known physician Dioscorides traveled throughout the Orient searching for natural treatments and cures. What he found was one of his favorite healing plants called Aloe Vera. He wrote many praises about the positive effects of Aloe Vera juice for a lot of physical disorders such as skin irritation, wounds, gastrointestinal complaints, acne, hair loss and gingivitis.
During the time of Marco Polo’s expeditions, it was an essential medical treatment in Chinese culture. It was a part of their everyday life as described in the treatment book Shi-Shen. As part of the Japanese culture it was called royal plant. The samurai consumed it as a potion for strains and pains.
Where Does Aloe Grow
These succulent perennial plants are generally a yellowish pea green to vivid green in color with sharp-pointed, spiky leaves and beautiful yellow, orange or red, tube-shaped, flower clusters. Aloe varies in form from small grassy looking herbs, stemless rosettes to the long-pointed leaf. The size may range from a few inches tall to sturdy 60-foot trunks.
Aloe Vera is a hardy plant that requires little water. It thrives and spreads in poor or dry soil. It usually creeps from basal offshoots colonizing in large areas to crowd out native vegetation.
Besides its original environments, it in now being introduced in drylands, farm lands, gardens, Mediterranean, tropical and subtropical regions around the world. Today Aloe Vera is listed as being invasive in the West Indies, countries across Europe, America and Asia.
Aloe Vera Juice Preparation
It is important to remember that the Aloe Vera plant needs to be handled properly for drinking. The whole leaf is cut. The outside green shell is cut away. The inner flesh that is a clear gel and 99% water is used to make the juice.
Creating this juice at home is really good, but a bit of a chore. For the sake of convenience and insurance of quality, it can also be purchased. Always look for a good quality Aloe Vera product. Commercially stabilized gel products with cold pressing retains the most beneficial properties.
Aloe Vera juice does possess a different taste as do most naturals. However, the benefits of using it are more than worth it. There are many ways to prepare it both with food recipes and drinks using the plant itself or a purchased juice to make it more appetizing.