Aloe Vera for the Constipated West

Aloe Vera for the Constipated West

Jun 25 , 2022

The East India Company, after trying unsuccessfully to snatch Bantang, Selang Bator and Pulo Run, all famed spice islands from the entrenched Portuguese and Dutch, landed the biggest prize of all: India.

Many of the key plants used in modern herb-based health products owe their adoption in the west to the activities of The East India Company. Aloe Vera is one.

A staple of the skin-care industry and now cultivated worldwide, aloes were highly prized in ancient Greece as a purgative, and Aristotle is said to have requested Alexander the Great to conquer the island of Socotra off the Horn of Africa, then the only source.

This same island was visited in 1608 by the third voyage of The East India Company, led by Captain Keeling. He bought a tonne of aloes for export to the ‘constipated’ west.

By 1693, aloes were available from London druggist, and interest from botanists was the catalyst for wider cultivation, initially in the Cape, but later in Curacoa and the West Indies. The original Socotran aloe remains a prized variety.

Remember us the next time you pop on your aloa vera aftersun cream this summer - as you sip your cooling cup of East India tea of course.