Green juice is a quintessential wellness fad, but there’s another verdant beverage sweeping the scene these days: aloe vera juice.
Its associated hashtag, #aloeverajuice, has accumulated more than 19.9 million (M) views on TikTok, with users claiming that sipping 1 to 2 ounces (oz) of the green stuff twice daily promotes a clear complexion and improves digestion.
A video by Bria Lemirande (1.2M followers) launched the juice into popularity after she claimed that after just over a week, her skin cleared and her digestion system has “never been better.”
Since then, a flood of TikTokers have vowed to try the green juice for a week, like Sophie Bohenko (4K followers) and Momo Vimolchalao (20.6K followers). But reviews on the juice have been mixed.
In a March 22 video update, Bohenko reported that her digestion improved and that her skin was clear, but that she did not notice a huge difference. On the other hand, Vimolchalao shared in her video update on March 23 that the juice greatly lessened her psoriasis symptoms.
But some, like Marianna Moore (386.8K followers), are concerned that the trend doesn’t account for specialized digestion concerns like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Here’s what to know about aloe vera juice — including how much health experts recommend you consume and who they say is better off avoiding it.
What Is Aloe Vera Juice?
Aloe vera juice is typically composed of either gel (inner leaf) or latex and gel (whole leaf), in addition to citric acid, which is an acid naturally found in citrus fruits.
The gel contains phytonutrients that are responsible for aloe vera’s anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and antimicrobial properties, says Daniel Allen Okamoto, MD, an integrative medicine physician at University of California at Davis.
The latex, however, found in whole leaf juices, contains an anthraquinone called aloin, which encourages a laxative effect on the body and can put users at risk for purgative symptoms like diarrhea, study published in January 2022 in Molecular Biology Reports found.
The International Aloe Science Council explains that whole leaf aloe juice is filtered many times over until 99.9 percent of the diarrhetic anthraquinone is gone. “Inner leaf” juice, however, may have little to no aloin to begin with — as the filtration process avoids the latex by focusing on the inside of the leaf.
According to most commercial products, such as Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera Juice, which is offered in inner and whole leaf forms, a serving size is 1 to 2 oz, and it is safe to ingest up to 8 oz daily.
Does Aloe Vera Juice Provide Health Benefits?
There is very little research on aloe vera juice specifically. But Dr. Okamoto says research on the effects of ingesting aloe vera gel may offer clues, although those studies are limited.
“It is reasonable to infer there may be potential health benefits for aloe juice, provided it does not contain high amounts of added sugar,” he says.
Regarding the purported skin benefits of aloe vera juice, Okamoto isn’t aware of any conclusive studies showing that ingesting aloe vera gel would provide the same benefits as applying it topically. Yet as with the gel, it’s possible to infer there may be crossover benefits, on the basis of studies of other aloe vera types.
Potential Benefits of Other Types of Aloe Vera
For example, one study found that women over age 45 who ingested aloe vera gel concentrate and water for 90 days saw improvement in wrinkles, elasticity in skin, and collagen production.
The plant is widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties, per previous research — which can help reduce redness and puffiness when applied topically to the skin, such as after a sunburn. Similarly, a study in which mice were given aloe gel orally every day found that the gel provided similar anti-inflammatory benefits and increased production of the antibody needed to fight chronic skin conditions. Still, human studies are needed to show whether people can derive the same perks from these supplements.
A study of 44 patients affected by mild to moderate ulcerative colitis found they experienced reduced disease activity after taking aloe vera gel orally twice a day for four weeks. Jenna Volpe, RDN, who is based in Austin, Texas, and specializes in digestion, says that from her personal experience working with patients, aloe vera juice may “cool off” the lining of an inflamed digestive tract, such as in cases of heartburn , ulcers, gastritis, or colitis.” That said, research confirming these results is lacking.
For any desired potential benefit, enjoying the juice in moderation is key. “Consuming more than a tablespoon of [whole leaf] aloe vera juice at one time may result in a laxative effect, since aloe vera can relax the intestines and cause diarrhea,” says Volpe.
While the juice may have benefits, Kendra Gutschow, RDN, a coach with the diet app Noom who is based in Leander, Texas, says there is not enough evidence (specific to the juice) to provide a recommended amount of consumption, so she suggests drinkers consult their doctor before taking it, as with any supplement.
Health Risks of Aloe Vera Juice
“In general, the gel appears to be safer than the latex or whole leaf [juice] formulations,” Okamoto says.
Large amounts of the latex-like laxative component in whole leaf aloe vera juice is associated with electrolyte imbalances and gastrointestinal disturbances such as abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea, according to the book Studies in Natural Products Chemistry.
It may also pose issues for people with kidney complications. The plant has been linked with kidney failure and may be considered a toxic carcinogen in animals, although more studies are needed in humans. One study found that aloe vera whole leaf extract taken orally had carcinogenic effects on rats, with no information available for the gel of the inner leaf.
Volpe warns that electrolyte imbalances, such as abnormal levels of potassium, is linked to poor kidney health. She recommends anyone with a kidney condition (or other condition impacted by potassium) to stay away from aloe vera juice out of an abundance of caution.
Regarding digestion, in 2002, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) withdrew all laxative products that contained aloe due to safety concerns, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Volpe says that due to the high polysaccharide content in aloe juice, people with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) should avoid the product, as it may worsen digestive symptoms such as gas or bloating.
The juice can also negatively interact with some medications. “Because of the complexities of phytonutrients, it can be helpful to work with a healthcare provider with experience in these supplements,” says Okamoto. “These providers may be able to help identify a high-quality supplement and can possibly alert you to any contraindications or potential drug-supplement interactions.”
An example of a medication that may not mix well with aloe vera juice is an anesthetic called sevoflurane, says Gutschow. “Aloe gel may cause excessive bleeding during surgery due to the interaction of aloe and sevoflurane.” The aloe components, when ingested orally, have adverse effects on the sevoflurane, increasing the risk of hemorrhage — according to a case study of a woman who regularly took aloe vera for leg pain and lost five liters of blood in surgery.
One last thing: If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, don’t drink aloe vera juice in either gel or latex form because it may be unsafe, notes the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Takeaway: Is Aloe Vera a Worthwhile Wellness Trend?
While there’s a lack of quality published research on aloe vera juice, ingesting aloe vera gel (or inner leaf aloe vera juice) may offer some potential benefits when consumed in moderation. “Lack of evidence doesn’t always mean there is a lack of benefit,” says Okamoto. “In some cases, the benefit of a plant nutrient is derived from centuries of therapeutic use in ancient healing practices.”
Overall, scientific researchers haven’t yet sorted out when, how, and by whom aloe should be used for the most therapeutic and safe benefits.
As for what we know now, Okamoto mentions the following safety classifications from the natural medicines database. This database is an online tool that accounts for current scientific research and includes guidelines that practitioners use to evaluate the safety of complementary and integrative approaches, including ingredients like aloe vera:
- Aloe gel (found in inner leaf) used topically is likely safe
- Aloe gel used orally is possibly safe
- Aloe latex (found in whole leaf) used orally is possibly unsafe
- Aloe latex used orally in high doses is likely unsafe
That said, this drink isn’t right (or safe) for everyone. If you’re managing an underlying health condition — and especially if you’re on any medications — consult your healthcare team before taking it to weigh the potential benefits and risks of aloe vera juice for your individual situation.