Aloe Vera Juice Is Everywhere Right Now—But Don't Believe the Hype
Aloe vera juice is touted as a panacea for a long list of ailments, but does it actually have any health benefits?
Acne, digestive woes, and heartburn may be common problems, but they’re not ones that are 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. The claimed health benefits of drinking aloe vera juice range from clear skin and silky soft hair to constipation and heartburn relief. Unfortunately, the data is all anecdotal—but there’s a heck of a lot of it! A quick Instagram search pulled up nearly 30,000 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 before sipping on something less than delectable.
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.
Aloe vera juice benefits
Berman is quick to point out that there’s no scientific research to substantiate claims that aloe vera juice can help with IBS or digestion, skin and hair health, immune function, or really any other aloe vera juice benefits claimed by users. The majority of the research surrounding aloe vera 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, so check with your doctor if you’re taking anything that could be an issue. Specifically, Fisher singles out individuals with a diagnosis of diabetes, kidney disease, or intestinal conditions. “If taking laxatives, diabetic or blood pressure medication, aloe vera juice should be avoided as it may produce a dangerous drug interaction," she says.
The bottom line: stick to using aloe vera for sunburn relief.