Known as the "plant of immortality," aloe vera has been used for centuries as a natural remedy. Today, brands from all around the world sell aloe vera water, claiming that it improves digestion and facilitates weight loss. Unfortunately, there isn't enough evidence to support these statements.
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Aloe vera water is highly diluted and processed, which affects its nutritional value. This beverage may keep you hydrated, but it's unlikely to improve your health, "cleanse" your body or facilitate weight loss.
Aloe Vera and Your Health
Aloe vera water is promoted as a healthy, natural beverage that keeps you hydrated, supports immune function and slows aging. Say some that it may even protect against cancer and diabetes due to its high antioxidant content. Clinical evidence, though, doesn't support aloe vera for any of these uses, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).
This beverage contains aloe vera gel and water. Aloe juice, on the other hand, contains citrus juice instead of water. The plant itself has been used for over 6,000 years as a cure for hemorrhoids, constipation, skin disorders and wounds, notes the NCCIH. Some studies indicate that it may help with psoriasis and wound healing when applied topically, but the research is limited.
A July 2013 review published in Organic and Medical Chemistry Letters states that most health benefits of aloe vera are due to polysaccharides, a class of carbohydrates found in the inner leaf. This plant is also rich in flavonoids, polyphenols, alkaloids, sterols and other bioactive compounds with antioxidant properties.
These phytochemicals may help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels while improving the symptoms of diabetes, cancer and heart disease, as reported in the above review. Furthermore, aloe vera exhibits anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects, according to a research paper featured in the journal Pharmacognosy Review in July-December 2015. In clinical trials, this plant has been shown to inhibit tumor growth, destroy pathogens and scavenge oxidative stress.
However, most studies were conducted on mice or in vitro (a lab-controlled environment). Therefore, it's hard to tell how their findings translate to humans. Additionally, none assessed the effects of aloe vera water. While the plant itself may benefit your health, aloe vera drinks are highly processed and may contain added sugar.
Aloe Water Benefits and Risks
The health benefits of aloe vera are subject to debate. When used topically, this plant may help improve skin moisture and integrity, according to a January 2019 review in the Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences. It may also reduce skin redness (erythema) and speed wound healing.
Little is known about aloe vera water, though. This beverage is marketed as a natural immunity booster, detoxifying agent and weight loss aid. As the NCCIH points out, detox and cleansing products are likely ineffective and potentially harmful.
Your body has its own detox mechanisms, states the National Academy of Sports Medicine. There are no pills or specific drinks that can flush toxins from your system or compensate for bad eating.
Read more: How to Detox in 3 Days Without Juicing
But that's not all. Aloe vera water and juice may also contain added sugars, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and artificial flavors. For example, a popular aloe vera water brand boasts 60 calories and 11 grams of sugar per serving (8-ounce bottle), according to USDA data. It does provide small amounts of calcium and vitamin A, but you can get these nutrients from whole foods.
Aloe vera juice isn't better, either. Some brands supply about 19 grams of sugar per bottle and contain potentially harmful ingredients, such as cane sugar and HFCS. Sugar in all its forms, including HFCS, may put you at risk for diabetes, obesity, elevated triglyceride levels and cardiac events when consumed in excess, warns the Mayo Clinic.
The benefits of drinking aloe vera juice first thing in the morning, as its proponents recommend, are few to none. This beverage may keep you hydrated and boost your intake of vitamin C and other nutrients, but it's unlikely to "cleanse" your body and reduce toxin buildup.
However, if you decide to give it a try, look for pure organic aloe vera water or juice with no added sugar. Beware, though — it's unclear how much of the plant's nutrients end up in your beverage.
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Aloe Vera"
- Organic and Medical Chemistry Letters: "Antibacterial Activities and Antioxidant Capacity of Aloe Vera"
- Purdue University: "Carbohydrates"
- Pharmacognosy Review: "Aloe Vera: Potential Candidate in Health Management via Modulation of Biological Activities"
- Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences: "The Effect of Aloe Vera Clinical Trials on Prevention and Healing of Skin Wound: A Systematic Review"
- Pharmacognosy Magazine: "In Vivo Skin Hydration and Anti-Erythema Effects of Aloe Vera, Aloe Ferox and Aloe Marlothii Gel Materials After Single and Multiple Applications"
- BioMed Research International: "The Review on Properties of Aloe Vera in Healing of Cutaneous Wounds"
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Detoxes and Cleanses: What You Need To Know"
- National Academy of Sports Medicine: "Detoxification: What Do You Have to Lose?"
- USDA FoodData Central: "OKF, Aloe Vera Drink With Pulp"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Aloe Vera Drink"
- Mayo Clinic: "What Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup? What Are the Health Concerns?"