Are Aloe Vera Juice Benefits for Real?

Find out whether aloe vera juice is a miracle drink or just aftersun lotion in a glass.

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When it comes to trendy "health drinks" if it's not one elixir it's another, but what about aloe vera juice? Are any of the supposed benefits — weight loss, digestion assistance, or immune support, for example — legit or just another myth? So, what is aloe vera juice good for exactly? Here healthy eating pros share if aloe vera juice (or aloe water, as it can also be called) is full of good nutrition or just plain full of it.

What Is Aloe Vera Juice?

Throughout history, aloe vera has been used both topically and orally. Aloe vera gel, found when you break open the green leafy skin of the aloe plant, is often used topically to treat burns, abrasions, psoriasis, and other skin conditions. Aloe vera juice, primarily produced from the green outer leaf (more on the specifics below), was used as a component in many over-the-counter laxatives until 2002 when the FDA pulled them from drugstore shelves due to insufficient information regarding their safety.

You may have come across lots of info about aloe vera juice and its health benefits, but what about aloe water? There's really not much difference, says Janet Brill, Ph.D., R.D.N., L.D.N., nutrition expert and consultant. Both start with a base of aloe vera gel (the topical stuff you're familiar with as a top ingredient in sunburn care products), which is derived from the central part of the aloe plant, she explains. What happens next, or better yet, what the gel is blended with next, is what determines what kind of product you see on store shelves. "Aloe juice is basically the gel blended with a citrus juice, like orange juice," says Brill. "Aloe water is simply water blended with the gel."

Aloe Vera Juice Benefits

The benefits of drinking aloe vera juice or aloe water are still up in the air, so consider the below potential perks, not promises.

Could Boost Hydration

As the name would lead you to believe, aloe water is made of mostly, well, water. So you'll definitely get a kick of hydration along with a decent amount of potassium and vitamin C. But that doesn't mean you should guzzle to your heart's content. "A lot of manufacturers that sell aloe juice or aloe water add in sugar [to sweeten the taste], bumping up the calorie count to 130 per cup or more," says Brill.

Possibly Improve Skin

But if you're looking to improve your skin (and really, who isn't?), the aloe vera juice could offer some serious beauty-boosting benefits. Researchers have yet to prove whether aloe vera juice has any real impact, but consider the nutritional stats: In addition to the potassium and vitamin C you'll find, there's also a plethora of antioxidants, which help protect the skin against damaging free radicals in the environment (like smog and pollutants) and folic acid, which fortifies the body's immune system. Still, it's safe to say you probably shouldn't expect facial-level results from a bottle of aloe vera juice.

May Ease Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

In a 2004 study from the U.K., researchers gave people with active ulcerative colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease, aloe vera gel to drink (remember that in the animal study, they used aloe vera juice, not gel). After four weeks of drinking aloe vera gel in water (aka aloe water) twice per day, their symptoms began improving toward remission of ulcerative colitis, compared to those given plain water. No significant negative side effects were experienced due to drinking the aloe vera gel.

Aloe Vera Juice Side Effects

One other note Brill mentions is that You should note that aloe water and aloe vera juice may also act as a natural laxative, says Brill. So it's important to watch for aloe vera juice side effects with digestion or bloating problems and be sure to rehydrate if you experience any diuretic side effects of aloe vera juice.

What's more, because there's so little scientific data to support the potential benefits of aloe vera juice or how much aloe vera juice to drink daily would be considered safe for humans, it's best to consult with a professional, such as your doctor or a nutritionist before adding aloe vera juice to your fridge.

How to Use Aloe Vera Juice

If drinking a glass of aloe vera juice or aloe water doesn't sound super appealing to you, get creative! Freeze aloe water into ice cube trays to boost the nutrition and flavor of your juice or cocktail. Try aloe vera juice as the liquid base for smoothies — just swap for almond milk or oat milk. Last, but certainly not least, you can use aloe vera juice to make refreshing and colorful popsicles. Try using bright kiwi and strawberry for these frozen treats. (Read more: The All-Inclusive Guide to Oat Milk vs Almond Milk)

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