Aloe background

The history of Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera, also know as “medicinal plant’, has been used around the world for thousands of years because of
its beneficial influences on people’s health. Already in Mesopotamia, the extraordinary effects of Aloe were
recorded. Historians and philosophers write about the blessings of Aloe. According to one of the legends,
Aristotle convinced Alexander the Great to conquer the island of Socrata, so its ample stock of Aloe Vera
could be used to treat wounded soldiers.
The Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used Aloe Vera juice to take care of their skin and it is even said
they owe their beauty to Aloe. The Bible states the use of Aloe Vera in John 19:39, when the body of Jesus
is embalmed. Meanwhile, it has been proven that Aloe Vera contains a special element, to which the plant
owes its extraordinary traits, namely polysaccharides.

The plant

There are over 200 different types of Aloe plants. Aloe is derived from the Arabic word “alloeh”, which means
clear, bitter substance. Several types of Aloe are known for their healing traits, especially well known is Aloe
Barbadensis Miller, also known as Curacao Aloe, Barbados Aloe or Aloe Vera Linné. Aloe Barbadensis Miller is a
succulent plant resembling a cactus, but is actually related to the lily and onion-like plants (Familie Leliacia).

The plant has some characteristics like stiff, long shaped, crenated, tapered leaves and grows in warm regions.
After three to five years, the famous healing substances have developed in the leaves. Only then, the leaves
can be processed to get the extract (juice) with a very high level of active ingredients.


Halfway through the 1900’s, the healing power of Aloe was declared in anecdotes, since thousands of people
over the ages have declared to have benefited from this plant when treating various skin problems such as eczema,
psoriasis, burns, etcetera. However, in the mid 1930’s scientists reported that natural Aloe Vera gel had an
amazing effect on burns caused by X, UV, and Gamma-radiation.

Nowadays, much more is known about the chemical composition of the plant and its healing effect, thanks to
the work of many scientists. Aloe Vera contains about 200 substances which can be divided in vitamins, minerals,
amino acids, sugars (mono- and polysaccharides), enzymes, fatty acids, saponines, lignins and ethereal oils.

The most important active components are polysaccharides, these are complex sugar structures, of which
polymannose is of significant importance.
The “Acemannan”-molecule is an important, very large molecule. It has been proven that Acemannan has a strong,
stimulating and activating influence on the immune system. Experts are in agreement that the healing effect of
Aloe Vera is due to the polysaccharide complex and not so much the miscellaneous substances.


The quality and the percentage of the extract in the final product are the deciding factor for the effectiveness
of Aloe Vera. The quality of the extract is determined by race, growing circumstances (climate, amount of water,
etcetera), time of harvest, extraction process and the manner of stabilising.

Aloe Vera is used indifferently in all kinds of products; the applied levels of polysaccharides are often so low that
the effectiveness is questionable, aside from the used quality. This is nothing new, as early as 200 BC, Pliny the
Elder, a Roman physicist, reported that “fake” Aloe was being produced and sold in the area of Jerusalem.
He called this Aloe “the unreal type”.

The future of Aloe

Scientists are increasingly interested in Aloe Vera, due to its activating and stimulating effect on the immune
system. Research on the effects and application areas are expanding. Among other areas, research is being
done in the areas of wound healing, certain types of cancer, UV radiation of the skin as well as HIV/AIDS.
It is a matter of time before Aloe Vera obtains a prominent position in the pharmaceutical industry.
Aloe Vera is the medicinal plant of the 21st Century.