Aloe vera isn’t just for skin anymore—it’s now available in beverage form. And while the juice may not be love at first taste, its role in healing is progressing, but not without controversy.
Drinking aloe has become a popular health craze among celebrities like Nicki Minaj, Alicia Keys, and Cheryl Cole, who claim the plant has aided in their flawless skin and digestion. The bitter beverage has sparked the interest of health bloggers, juice bars, and smoothie shops across the country.
The juice is now commercially accessible too—it’s available at Trader Joes, Whole Foods, and Walgreens.
“It’s supposedly the miracle cure for everything when you drink it,” says Anne Cundiff, a registered and licensed dietitian in Des Moines. “People think if they take it internally, it’ll work for weight loss, energy, diabetes, et cetera.”
Sheree Clark, a health coach and nutritionist has been consuming aloe for digestion purposes for the past 10 years. Clark takes a leaf, cuts away the outside, and mixes the inner gel into her smoothies. “I’m a raw vegan,” she says. “A lot of raw vegans are likely to eat more plants and do more things with plants than the average person.”
The scientific community is divided over the safety of aloe vera products. Some warn against potential contamination of aloin, the yellow-brownish sap found in aloe juice and other health products. Others believe the potential benefits outweigh the dangers. According to Clark, aloe beverages can significantly reduce inflammation symptoms, improve digestion, relieve ulcers, and help lower cholesterol. Both nutritionists agree that additional research should be done before consuming aloe.
“I think with everything that’s trendy,” Cundiff says. “It’s always good to take into consideration why it’s trendy, where the trend is coming from, and the history.”