Scientific evidence suggests that aloe vera juice can heal skin and reverse skin aging. Aloe vera juice contains aloe gel and preservatives, such as citric acid. You need to dilute an aloe concentrate according to the manufacturer's directions. When buying aloe juice, make sure it only contains the gel of the inner leaf. But before going ahead and drinking aloe juice, you should be aware of potential risks and possible side effects.
Aloe vera is a green, cactus-like plant which grows naturally in dry locations such as Africa and Mexico. There are many species of this plant, but the aloe juice you drink comes from Aloe barbadensis. Two substances come from the aloe leaf, a clear gel and a yellow fluid, known as latex. The latex, commonly used as a laxative, contains chemicals called anthraquinones. You can use aloe gel on your skin to help burns and other skin problems, such as psoriasis. Aloe gel is taken internally for inflammatory conditions such as joint pain. Aloe gel contains acetylated mannose, a polysaccharide that may help your immune system.
Your skin ages from ultraviolet light damage and other biological causes. As you get older, your skin loses collagen. Collagen is a protein that keeps your skin firm and elastic. Aging causes an increase in matrix metalloproteinases, or MMPs, that break down the collagen matrix in your skin. Exposure to sunlight triggers MMPs and causes genetic mutations.
Medical researchers from Seoul National University in South Korea conducted an experiment to determine whether aloe vera could reduce wrinkles. Published results of the study are in the February 2009 edition of "Annals of Dermatology." Women, over age 45, were given aloe gel to take internally for 90 days. The highest dose given was 3,600 mg per day. The researchers found that a dose as low as 1,200 mg per day was enough to cause significant changes in wrinkles on the face. Wrinkle depth decreased and skin elasticity improved due to increased collagen production. The women did not experience any side effects from taking the aloe.
There may be risks associated with taking aloe gel or latex internally and the long term effects of ingesting aloe gel are unknown. A study in the March 2010 edition of the "Journal of Korean Medical Science" reports that aloe may be toxic to the liver. You might notice itching from taking aloe gel internally or using it on the skin. Taking aloe products containing the latex can cause diarrhea. The National Institutes of Health states that taking aloe latex could be fatal. Note that supplements made from the entire aloe leaf also contain the latex. Don't take aloe in any form if you are pregnant.
- "Annals of Dermatology"; Dietary Aloe Vera Supplementation Improves Facial Wrinkles and Elasticity and It Increases the Type I Procollagen Gene Expression in Human Skin in Vivo; Soyun Cho, M.D., Ph.D., et al.; February 2009
- "Indian Journal of Dermatology"; Aloe Vera: A Short Review; Amar Surjushe, Resham Vasani and D. G. Saple; March 2008
- "Journal of Korean Medical Science"; Aloe-Induced Toxic Hepatitis; Ha Na Yang, et al.; March 2010
- "Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology"; Risks and Benefits of Commonly Used Herbal Medicines in Mexico; Lourdes Rodriguez-Fragoso, et al.; February 2008
- "Nutrition Journal"; Immunomodulatory Dietary Polysaccharides: A Systematic Review of the Literature; Jane E. Ramberg, Erika D. Nelson and Robert A Sinnott; November 2010