Aloe is famous for its soothing effects on the skin and is a popular ingredient in beauty and skincare products. But it's also widely used internally, and studies suggest that drinking the gel of the plant can help with inflammatory bowel disorders, diabetes and even cancer treatment.1
Most health products, both topical and oral, utilize the clear, sticky gel found in the inner leaf of the plant—the most common aloe used for this purpose is the barbadensis variety.
Although aloe latex, the yellow fluid that comes from just under the plant's skin, also has medicinal properties, it's generally avoided or filtered out by manufacturers because of concern over side-effects. Aloin, a compound in the latex, is known to have strong laxative properties.
If you want to give aloe a try, go for a formula that's minimally processed, free of sugars, thickeners and synthetic preservatives, and with the highest amount of pure, unfiltered aloe gel you can find. Here are our top picks—all made from the inner leaf of the plant, which doesn't contain aloe latex.
Did you know?
Aloe vera contains a wealth of biologically active substances, but it's the polysaccharides—long-chain sugar molecules—thought to be responsible for many of its beneficial effects.2
Organic Pure Aloe Vera Juice, $14.63 (16.9 fl oz/500 mL)
Freshly squeezed from the inner leaf flesh of organically grown mature plants, ethical company Fushi's aloe juice is cold pressed and unfiltered to maximize potency. Inside the recyclable (light-protected) glass bottle you'll find 99.9 percent Aloe barbadensis juice—the only added ingredient is the natural preservative citric acid. It's rich in polysaccharides (a minimum of 1,700 mg per liter) and is free of latex, the bitter yellow fluid found just under the plant's skin.
Lily of the Desert
Preservative Free Aloe Vera Juice Inner Fillet, $8.46 (32 fl oz/946 mL)
www.vitacost.com; tel: 800-381-0759
American aloe brand Lily of the Desert claims to be the only one in the natural marketplace with 'gold standard' clinical studies conducted on its finished products. This 'preservative-free' formula contains 99.8 percent organically grown Aloe vera infused with a polysaccharide-rich isolate of the plant to enhance absorption. Only citric acid is added, and the drink is certified by the International Aloe Science Council (IASC) for purity and content. While this product is made from the inner leaf of the plant, the brand also does a whole-leaf, filtered aloe juice, which it says is slightly better in terms of health benefits.
Forever Aloe Vera Gel, $19 (33.8 fl oz/1 L)
www.foreverliving.com; tel: 888-440-2563
Aloe vera specialist Forever Living has recently reformulated its flagship drinking gel to provide more aloe than before—99.7 percent of the inner leaf gel—and has removed added thickeners, sweeteners and synthetic preservatives. Citric acid and vitamin C are the only extras you'll find in the drink now, which are used to stabilize the aloe. Like Lily of the Desert's aloe juice, Forever Living's aloe gel is certified by the International Aloe Science Council (IASC) for purity and content.
Organic Aloe Vera Juice, $19.79
(16.9 fl oz/500 mL)
Pukka's certified organic aloe offering is hand-filleted from the inner leaf of mature plants and tested to ensure it's aloin-free. The 99.9 percent aloe formula (the other 0.1 percent is simply citric acid from GM-free tapioca starch) is unfiltered, guaranteed to provide at least 1,000 mg of polysaccharides per liter and is sustainably cultivated too.
Natural & Organic Aloe Vera Original, $19.76 (16.9 fl oz/500 mL)
This 100 percent natural and organic Aloe vera juice is 99.4 percent aloe and 0.6 percent lemon juice, created in the UK by two friends frustrated by the mostly sugary and highly processed aloe drinks on the shelves. Only the unfiltered gel of the inner leaf is used, which is guaranteed to contain 1,200 mg of polysaccharides per liter. And if you don't like the taste, the same formula is also available with a dash of natural, organic cranberry juice.