*A Short History of Aloe Vera*
By: Pike

Some scientists agree, and historical evidence suggests, that the Aloe Vera plant originated in the warm, dry climates of Africa. However, because the plant is readily adaptable, and because man has been so eager to carry it with him from place to place, it now can be found in many warm lands. In the United States, it is grown commercially in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, in California and Florida, and in specially-designed greenhouses in Oklahoma.

Although Aloe Vera is a tropical plant, the root can survive freezing air temperatures, so long as the ground is not frozen and the root destroyed. The plant need not be destroyed for damage to occur. The leaves may be damaged and vital nutrients may be lost at air temperatures of forty degrees Fahrenheit. Such damage may be severe at thirty-five degrees. Conversely, the plant can grow at temperatures as great as 104 F. It will survive temperatures higher still, and can withstand even severe drought. Nonetheless, it will thrive in humid jungles, so long as the root itself does not stand in water and drown.

At present, Aloe Vera has little official standing in the medical community. In spite of the lack of official promotion, it is among the most widely used substances in the U.S. for the treatment of burns and bruises. Additionally, it is used in a plethora of cosmetics, and consumed as a healthful drink. While it has not yet won the full endorsement of the medical community, serious examination continue for aloe's unexamined possibilities as a powerful healing agent.

 The Spanish used Aloe, and carried it with them to their new world colonies in South America and the Caribbean. Not that this considerable pedigree should call forth images of primitive peoples and their witch doctors. Among the plant's earliest champions were some of the great figures in the history of medicine and medical thought. In each age, on each continent, in each culture, Aloe Vera has drawn the attention of the most sophisticated of minds.

It took early man thousands of years to develop what we know today as the modern understanding of plants, of what can and cannot be consumed, of what will heal and what will harm. It is important to remember that this is the common history of all our knowledge of the world. Most of our marketed medicines are distillations, combinations, reproductions or variations of substances found in nature. Some of these substances were recommended by our forefathers long before their value was demonstrated and understood by scientific method. We should dismiss none of our common heritage of knowledge without real thought and serious investigation. I would acknowledge that the exploration of our world is far from complete.

 Aloe (the sap) was a treatment for boils; that it eased hemorrhoids; that it aided in healing bruises; that it was good for the tonsils, the gums, and all general mouth irritations; and that it worked as a medicine for the eyes. Scientists further observed that the whole leaf, when pulverized, could stop the bleeding of many wounds.

                            How Does It Work?

Its natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial action combined within its nutritional constituents promote cell growth and therefore healing. However, it is not only helpful for people with problems; most people taking it report a greater sense of well being - they just feel 'better' or they report feeling calmer and less anxious. This is due to aloe's second effect on the immune system which becomes balanced or fine tuned and therefore more efficient at defending the body from attack.

                      Properties & uses of Aloe Vera

Cathartic - an agent which produces active bowel movements, often causing accompanying cramps; it is usually combined with an antispasmodic.

Emollient - a skin dressing or soothing ointment.

Purgative - a substance which causes a watery evacuation of the bowels.

Stimulant - an agent that temporarily increases activity or physiological processes. Stimulants may be classified according to the organ upon which they act; for example, an intestinal stimulant is that which stimulates the intestines.

Aloe vera is thought to have wound healing hormone activity. Externally, the juice has been used to treat skin diseases, burns, and bruises, having both soothing and healing properties. When the soft, pulpy leaves are cut or broken, the clear juice flows freely and should be applied to the affected area as quickly as possible. Liquid aloe vera also helps prevent scar tissue from occurring inside the body at the site of an incision. If the gel is applied frequently just after surgery, the incision will heal more rapidly and leave less scar tissue.

 Some medical personnel have suggested that liquid aloe vera can be given intravenously. Modern physicians have even prescribed this for nuclear and other radiation burns. Further, it has been discovered that, taken internally, liquid aloe vera helps mend tissue damaged by some forms of radiation. The cut leaves of aloe contain "aloin."

                           TOXICITY FACTORS

Some reports indicate that aloes should not be used during pregnancy. Aloes may have purgative affects; it is a common, but unsubstantiated belief that overdoses of strong purgatives will cause abortions as they tend to cause everything in the body to be expelled.

Some specify that aloes should not be used in the treatment of hermorrhoids. Aloe products can be purchased in many forms; the most common forms are aloe vera gel and drug aloe. The drug aloe can be taken internally in small amounts for its laxative effects.
Laxative induced increased speed of intestinal emptying caused by this herb may result in decreased absorption of some vitamins.

In Conclusion:

Aloe Vera is not a cure for all ills and there is no magic about it. It works in the areas previously mentioned and in the immune system. This is largely backed up by many thousands of people over the centuries have reported benefit for various skin complaints such as eczema, psoriasis, ulcers, burns, acne even stings and bites. They have found relief for bowel disorders such as colitis, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Other conditions resulting from immune system such as arthritis, asthma have improved after a regular ingestion of Aloe Vera gel.

Aloe Vera therefore has a complementary role to play in the management of various conditions. It is very important however that people should always seek the advice of their doctor when the diagnosis is in doubt or where a condition does not improve. Self -diagnosis can be dangerous as many serious conditions can mimic more simple ones.

I hope this gives you some of the uses on the uses of Aloe Vera and as Survivalists we can use all of the natural healing methods that we can find in Nature.

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