The sugar-cane (Saccharum officinarum) is cultivated in all tropical countries, such as India, China, Mexico, the West Indies, etc. Its native land is probably India, or the Indo-Chinese countries and islands. As made from the cane, sugar has been known from time immemorial. It is mentioned by such early writers as Theophrastus (633), Herodotus (314a), and others, who knew raw sugar as honey of canes, and in the early Christian era sugar became well known under the name saccharon. Dioscorides (194), A. D. 77, describes it as obtained from India and Arabia Felix, stating that it resembled salt in brittleness. Pliny (514) mentions it under the name saccharum, and an unknown writer, A. D. 54-68, mentions it as an article of import to the ports of the Red Sea opposite Aden (see Burton for description of that country, "First Footprints" (113), etc.), but it is doubtful whether it was brought from the eastern or western parts of India. It is mentioned by Abu Zayd al Hasan (240), A. D. 850, as produced on the Persian Gulf, and A. D. 950 Moses of Chorene states that it was then manufactured in quantities. Sugar was introduced into medicine in the tenth and eleventh centuries by Rhazes (a physician of Bagdad and Persia, who died about A. D. 923), Haly Abbas (295), and others; but it had ever been employed, as it is still employed, in domestic medicine for the purpose of disguising unpleasant materials and for sweetening acrid substances. Burton (113) found crude sugar an article of domestic use and preparation (in his journey to Herat) by several tribes of native Africans. Sugar as a remedy in itself has been quite often a therapeutic factor in both domestic and regular medication.
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.