Aloe Story


Aloe, a perennial herb that belongs to the lily family
and Aloe genus by botanical classification,
is known to be the first medicinal herb discovered by humans
It originates from the African continent, but nowadays it naturally grows in a wide range of places from tropical to temperate zones and is cultivated in
other places as well. This global medicinal herb, which is grown more than any other herbs in the world, has been used for medicinal purposes since the
archaic period of ancient Egypt around 2,000 B.C. There are 3 reasons why this herb that has been beloved as a folk remedy and used in Korean medicine
for about 4,000 years started to attract attention of the modern medical society.
Aloe has no toxin and
causes no side effects.
It is universally used
for various purposes.
It helps to solve many difficult issues
the modern medical science wrestles
with, such as various adult diseases
and X-ray irradiation side effects.

나뭇잎이미지02 History of Aloe

Aloe is one of the oldest herbs used by humans for medical purposes and are still used today.

- In the West

the German Egyptologist Georg Ebers discovered a document in the casket of a mummy inside an ancient Egyptian tomb. It was <Papyrus>, a kind of medical docu
ment believed to have been written in 1552 B.C. The document describes the effects of aloe, which makes it possible to date the use of the plant for medical purpos
es to about 4,000 years ago. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician known as the father of medical science, already used aloe as a clinical medicine in the 4th
century B.C. There is also a record that Alexander the Great conquered the island of Socotra, a key aloe-producing area, in order to secure supplies of aloe to treat
wounded solders. In the 1st century B.C., Cleopatra used aloe for cosmetic purposes. Dioscorides, who was the court physician of the tyrant emperor Nero, listed 26
effects of aloe and recorded manufacturing methods in his book <The Greek Herbal>. The Christian Bible also has 4 references to aloe including in John 19:39
where it says aloe was applied on Jesus’ body as a preservative. Beyond these, the use of aloe is recorded in pharmacopoeias of about 20 countries including
Korea.

- In the East

In old Korean medical documents, aloe is referred to as “Nohoe (蘆薈).” Yu Woo-suk (772-842), a poet during the Tang Dynasty of China, is known to have easily
cured chronic eczema with aloe. The earliest record of aloe in old Chinese documents is in <Gae Bo Bon Cho (開寶本草)- Introduction to Precious Medicinal Herbs>,
written during the Song Dynasty. Also, Marco Polo’s <The Travels of Marco Polo> reveals that people during the Yuan Dynasty cured diseases of stomach and skin
with aloe. The first record of aloe in Japanese documents is in <Yamato honzō (大和本草)> (1709) from the Edo period. Aloe arborescens, which was introduced into
the country by Western missionaries, was popularized as a folk remedy in the 16th century. After the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in
1945, the global popularity of aloe started to grow when the plant was used to cure radiation burns without leaving any scars.

- In Korea

There is no accurate record of when aloe was first used in Korea, but judging from the fact that traditional medical practices and medicinal herbs were imported
from China starting from a very early period, it can be said that the history quite long. The first written record of its use is in <Dongui Bogam (東醫寶鑑)> written by
Heo Jun in 1610, which describes the plant as the following: Nohoe- The medicine is cold, bitter, and nontoxic. It cures give infirmities of children (五感), kills Sam
Chung (三蟲: three insects in the body), and controls piles, scabies, and febrile fit. <Bon Cho>
The herbal compound originates from Persia and is formed by coagulation of tree sap. Its color is close to black toffee. When one with good quality is put into water
and shaken, the broken parts stick together. It must be ground for use. Chinese medical documents referred to it as <Ip Mun> and <Bon Cho> as they adopted it. It is
presumed that the reason why the writers mentioned Persia as the origin of aloe is because many trades of the plant were made in Persia as the intermediary trad
ing place between China and Europe rather than because the plant was actually produced there. The revised and enlarged edition of <Bangyakhappyeon (方藥合編
)> written in 1887 during the Emperor Gojong’s reign also has records of aloe including the warning that says “prohibit prescription of this medicine to anyone
whose stomach is full or who has diarrhea.” <Hanyakimsangeungyong (漢藥臨床應用)> explains that aloe can induce bowel movement, strengthen the stomach,
and has an antifungal effect and describes in detail how to prescribe the herb in order to treat patients. <The Korean Pharamacopeia>, written and published in
1958, included descriptions of aloe in its initial edition and continued to do so in the next 6 editions, including the latest, defining aloe as the dried power of the
juice extracted from the leaf or the powder gained by grinding the dried leaf. As such, the history of aloe’s medicinal use is long. If we include the traces of its use as a
folk remedy, it can date back as far as 6,000 years ago. The fact that the pharmacopoeias of about 20 countries in this modern era includes details about aloe proves
that the modern medicine also acknowledges the plant’s medicinal effects.
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