Aloe vera, a tropical plant with spiky edges and gel-filled center, is used both topically as an analgesic and internally as a juice. What began as a staple in traditional Eastern medicine, eventually spread to the Western world as a natural pain and health remedy.
According to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, aloe, which includes the plant's extracted juice, has been studied for potential effects on psoriasis and other skin issues, along with internal issues like constipation and diabetes. The center also notes studies indicating potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Other institutions such as the American College of Angiology report potential strides for heart conditions, while those studying dental and oral issues also cite potential benefits for treating and medicating oral diseases and conditions.
Despite potential claims about the wonders aloe vera juice can do your health, research doesn't support these findings and many warn against consuming the juice as it's a possible carcinogen and laxative.
Is Aloe Vera Juice Safe to Drink?
The topical benefits of aloe vera are well-established, but research is mixed on whether regularly drinking the juice is OK. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes that the oral use of aloe vera has been associated with abdominal cramps, and one 2-year National Toxicology Program study from 2013 showed that oral consumption of aloe vera extract correlated with cancerous activity in rats.
If you do choose to drink aloe juice, use caution when consuming it, and if you experience abdominal discomfort, stop. Also, it's a good idea to check with your doctor first.
The newsletter, Nutrition Action, published by the Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends you choose only juice made with a charcoal filtration because it's less likely to have compounds that are associated with the cancerous effects in rats.
Health Benefits of Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera juice proponents maintain that drinking it provides numerous health benefits. They maintain it offers multiple possibilities for your teeth, heart and digestion.
Dental Procedures and Oral Conditions
Swishing aloe juice around a little before you drink it may help keep your mouth healthy.
A 2011 study from the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology administered aloe to the periodontal pockets of people who had undergone scaling and root planing. At rechecks, enough periodontal improvement was found to recommend aloe as a local medical treatment for healing after dental procedures.
Another 2013 study from Advances in Clinical and Experimental Medicine found aloe can help heal oral lichen planus, a common oral condition.
Heart Disease and Diabetes
At its 26th annual meeting, the American College of Angiology presented a report about aloe's potential effect on heart disease and diabetes. Five thousand patients suffering from atheromatous heart disease or diabetes began consuming aloe vera and psyllium.
The result was a notable reduction in serum triglycerides, lipids and total cholesterol levels, while high-density cholesterol — the "good cholesterol" — increased. Blood sugar levels also improved in diabetics, and patients were able to taper the use of drugs.
Other Benefits of Oral Aloe Vera
Oral consumption of aloe vera has other potential benefits for specific conditions. Research surrounding the consumption of aloe vera juice is slight, while the effects of consuming the gel or capsules is better understood. For example:
Aloe vera latex,
the layer between the gel and skin of the plant, is a well-known laxative.
Aloe vera gel helps reduce the severity of the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease, reports a review of the research published in a 2014 issue of the World Journal of Gastroenterology.
Aloe vera gel may reduce glucose levels in diabetics.
* Consumption of aloe vera tincture may improve the survival rate for people with metastatic cancer, when used in combination with other therapies.
Aloe vera juice itself play a role in optimizing your digestion and normalized your acid/alkaline balance. It encourages healthy digestive bacteria and lessens yeast formation, too.
How to Drink Aloe Vera Juice
As aloe vera juice is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, no specific dosing recommendations exist.
Two different types of aloe vera juice are available. One type is made with just the gel, pulp or leaf fillets and can be consumed pretty regularly and liberally without a lot of concern, explains Healthline.
Be very careful with your consumption of the types of juice made with whole-leaf aloe contains the outer parts of the plant, gel and latex; these are the parts associated with aloe vera's laxative properties. For constipation, consumption of aloe vera should be limited to about 100 to 200 milligrams according to well-known natural medicine expert Dr. Josh Axe.
You can drink aloe vera juice as packaged — there's no need to dilute it with water, unless you prefer the flavor that way. You may mix aloe vera juice into a smoothie or with another juice, but the flavor is rather mild and is well tolerated by most people on its own.
Find a quality product by looking for brands certified by the International Aloe Science Council. Their certification process validates the quality of aloe vera products so you don't get duped by an inferior juice.
Aloe is regularly available at local health food stores, but check with your doctor before you start drinking aloe vera juice as it isn't always considered safe.
Potential Risks of Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera juice is quite different from topical gel versions, so make sure the label specifies use as a dietary supplement or juice. Supplements aren't put through the same rigorous testing as drugs, so safety levels remain unknown; consumption may cause interaction with other items like drugs, herbs or foods.
Some reported side effects include:
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Liver inflammation
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports that a National Toxicology Program study on the oral consumption of the extract of aloe vera confirmed carcinogenic activity in rats, following consumption.
Although this is an animal study using very specific doses, it suggests further research should be done on humans before aloe vera juice is recommended as a safe product.
The NCCIH also reports that severe cramping and diarrhea is associated with the oral consumption of aloe latex and that diabetics should be cautious as it may decrease blood sugar levels too much when used in conjunction with specific medications.
Definitely check with your doctor before using aloe vera juice as it may interact with several medications. Since the products are not regulated, you may choose to pass on consuming it altogether until more substantial research has been done.