Aloe Vera Juice Is Everywhere Right Now—But Don't Believe the Hype
Acne, digestive woes, and heartburn are common problems, and they're not easy to solve. They can have a tremendous impact on quality of life, so we can't be blamed for hoping that a quick fix like celery juice, lemon water, or the latest craze—aloe vera juice—might offer up a solution. Aloe vera juice's health claims range from clear skin and silky soft hair to constipation and heartburn relief. And there's a heck of a lot of anecdotal data to confirm this. A quick Instagram search pulled up nearly 50,000 posts about aloe vera juice.
Should you consider using aloe vera for more than just a topical solution for sunburn relief and start sipping the pulpy, thicker-than-water juice? Given that people have compared the taste to everything from laundry detergent to a more bitter wheatgrass, we thought it necessary to turn to experts to separate fact from fiction.
What Is Aloe Vera Juice?
"Aloe vera juice is extracted from the green outer leaf of the aloe vera plant," says Rachel Berman, a registered dietician in New York City. "It's made by crushing the plant and filtering out the liquid. Naturally, it tastes bitter and is slightly thicker than plain water." But don't confuse this with aloe vera gel, which is found by breaking open the leaf and has been used topically for centuries to treat burns and abrasions.
Berman is quick to point out that there's almost no scientific research to substantiate claims that aloe vera juice can help with digestion, skin and hair health, immune function, or any of the other benefits that users have claimed. The majority of the research surrounding aloe vera's benefits focuses on topical applications. "It's questionable if there are adequate nutrients supplied by aloe vera juice once it's diluted with water, and aloe vera juice doesn't supply even close to the recommended daily amounts of B vitamins and vitamin C," says Suzanne Fisher, a registered dietitian and licensed nutritionist.
While there are some drinks, like Alo Drink, which taste slightly better than straight-up aloe juice, thanks to added ingredients like apple and pear juice, they're also full of added sugars and, according to the experts we spoke with, there are no added benefits to drinking any kind of aloe vera beverage. "You'd be better off having water or even a serving of 100 percent orange juice for the vitamin C," Berman says.
Worse yet, Berman notes that aloe vera juice has been shown to interact with some medications. Specifically, Fisher warns people who are taking drugs for diabetes, kidney disease, or intestinal conditions. "If taking laxatives, diabetic or blood pressure medication, aloe vera juice should be avoided," she says.
The bottom line: Stick to using aloe vera for sunburn relief.