Many people use an aloe vera because its great for your skin and it can fight oxidative damage, help build collagen, and possibly even treat type 2 diabetes.
It’s not just for use after a bad sunburn. Read on if you want to find out about the best aloe vera supplements on the market right now and what they might be useful for.
1. NOW Aloe Vera Gels
If you are looking for an easy and inexpensive solution for taking aloe vera, NOW Aloe Vera Gels are your best bet. They are inexpensive, pure, popular, and come in a capsule that delivers 50 mg of aloe vera gel.
According to the company, because of how the concentration and extraction process works, this is equivalent to 10 grams of pure aloe vera gel. The aloe vera gel is dissolved in olive oil and is delivered via a gelatin capsule–this does mean that vegans are out of luck with this product, but there are plenty of other non-animal product options out there.
2. George’s “Always Active” Aloe
If you want to cut out the middleman, or use your aloe vera for a multitude of purposes, the only way to go is with a large jug of liquid, and George’s brand is the cream of the crop. The imposing one-gallon jug contains dozens of servings of distilled aloe vera juice.
Aloe vera liquid is the only ingredient, and the jug is labeled for nutritional use, so you can be sure it’s pure enough to drink as well as to rub on your skin or to incorporate into your own homemade cosmetic products.
3. Herbal Secrets Aloe Vera
Herbal Secrets serves up a respectable amount of aloe vera in a simple gelatin and oil capsule. Each capsule contains the equivalent of 5 grams of aloe vera gel: the manufacturing process involves concentrating the gel by a factor of 200, leaving 25 mg of the concentrate per capsule.
It’s a very solid product but for cost and content reasons, it doesn’t quite reach the top. The amount of aloe vera gel could be a little higher. That being said, it’s a perfectly reasonable choice.
4. Dynamic Health Labs Organic Aloe Vera Juice
Dynamic Health Labs focuses on offering a highly pure, well-tested aloe vera juice. This premium product comes at a higher cost, of course, but if you prioritize having organic ingredients, it’s a fantastic choice.
The sole ingredient is organic aloe vera juice, and Dynamic Health Labs contracts with an independent laboratory for purity testing. If you want to be absolutely sure about what you are putting in your body, there’s no other way to go.
5. NutriWorth Organic Aloe Vera Gels
NutriWorth makes a pretty legit aloe vera gel supplement. Each gelatin capsule delivers 50 mg of 200:1 organic aloe vera gel concentrate, and it’s dissolved in organic olive oil to boot.
You will have to pay extra for the privilege of having organic ingredients, but that’s always how it goes. It costs more money to produce, so it’s going to cost more money for you to buy it. But for an organic capsule-based aloe vera solution, NutriWorth can’t be beat.
6. Nature’s Way Aloe Vera Leaf Juice
The main selling point of Nature’s Way Aloe Vera Leaf Juice is its trademarked “PolyMax” polysaccharide extract that is included along with the usual aloe vera juice.
This, plus the preservatives and stabilizers, make this product substantially more expensive than other liquid-based options, so you’ll have to decide whether the polysaccharide extract is worth it for you. The health benefits of that compound are not as well researched as those of the aloe vera leaf, so it’s up to you to make the call.
7. Puritan’s Pride Aloe Vera Gel
Puritan’s Pride is another aloe vera gel concentrate supplement that uses a 200 to one concentration process. Each capsule of Puritan’s Pride provides 25 mg of concentrate, or 5 grams of original gel if you do the math.
It’s a little less cost-effective, and it does contain soybean oil, which is a cheaper solvent and may cause issues for people with soy sensitivities, but beyond this, it’s hard to find too much fault in Puritan’s Pride.
8. Herbalife Herbal Aloe Concentrate
Herbalife, the massive multilevel marketing company, has made a fortune off their herbal aloe concentrate, as it’s one of their flagship products. Believe it or not, you can order it off the open market without having to directly go through a member. Unfortunately, it’s a little tricky to tease apart how much aloe vera is actually in this supplement, because it’s marketed as a drink, and as such just has a nutrition label.
For the same reason, it also has several non-aloe vera ingredients. It’s flavored and sweetened with sucralose (an artificial sweetener), mango flavoring, and citric acid, so you will be paying a lot more per serving than a typical aloe vera gel. Herbalife’s aloe vera product pushes into “lifestyle drink” territory, so in terms of its actual utility as a supplement, it scores somewhat low.
9. Just Javik Organic Aloe Vera Powder
This is another option for the do it yourself-er. Just Javik makes the interesting choice of offering a powdered version of aloe vera. Instead of juicing the leaves and selling the concentrate, Just Javik instead allows the aloe vera leaves to dry, then crushes them into a powder.
Having the powder is advantageous in some respects, as it allows you to gain the benefits of the phytonutrients in the leaf fiber. There is one big drawback though: it’s not edible. You wouldn’t want to eat it anyways, because of the fiber content. So, this one is great for cosmetics, but not for oral supplementation.
10. Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera Gelly
Now, even though this one is listed as a “supplement,” it’s clearly not designed for internal use! Lily of the Desert is strictly a cosmetic product, which is not to detract from its uses. It’s got thickeners, stabilizers, and several skin-nourishing ingredients.
But you pay extra for this, and the fact that you can’t double-dip and drink it as well is actually a pretty important point to make. With the bulk aloe vera gels, you can use them for both external and internal use.
Who should buy aloe vera?
Aloe vera is a great compliment to sunscreen, as it helps heal sunburn, but it does a lot more than heal your skin. Aloe vera contains powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, and as such, it’s often used to treat health problems that cause inflammation or irritation of the gastrointestinal tract.
It also appears to have antibacterial effects and beneficial effects on controlling blood sugar in people who have type two diabetes.
While aloe vera is not for everyone, it has a long history of use in traditional medicine and attracts people who are fans of natural remedies for health conditions.
How we ranked
While there are plenty of great aloe vera products out there for sunburn and skincare, we only focused on supplemental forms of aloe vera that are geared towards the systemic effects of aloe vera.
We carefully considered the benefits of aloe vera capsules versus liquid aloe vera leaf juice. Since both have their respective advantages and disadvantages, we included both in our rankings, albeit with slightly different criteria.
For liquid form aloe vera, purity was the utmost concern. Since dosage is pretty much irrelevant (you can measure out however much you need), we evaluated these supplements on the source of the aloe vera, as well as the presence or absence of any additional ingredients.
We ranked very pure products highly, especially if they had perks like coming from an organic grower of aloe vera plants. On the flip side, liquid aloe vera products that had flavoring and preservatives ended up lower in the rankings, or didn’t make them at all.
For capsule-based aloe vera products, we examined both the dosage and the supplement design. Dosage was rated as equivalent to pure aloe vera gel (capsules contain a concentrated form), and we prioritized higher-dose products as opposed to lower-dose ones.
We also had a slight preference for vegan cellulose-based capsules, given that aloe vera is a favorite among plant-based diet enthusiasts, but didn’t put an inordinate amount of weight on this requirement.
We did, however, strongly prioritize clean supplement design, meaning we eliminated products with a lot of binders, fillers, and additives, and rated those with only a couple ingredients highly.
Since our final rankings have a balance of capsules and liquid, as well as a range of doses, just about everyone can find an aloe vera product that’s right for them.
Aloe vera is a succulent plant known for its medicinal uses, especially in relation to skin health. the fluid stored in its long, spiky leaves is loaded with bioactive compounds delivering a range of benefits.
This versatile substance is valued by industries marketing food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products globally to the tune of an estimated $13 billion in sales each year. (1)
Perhaps one of the most widely used medicinal plants, aloe vera grows best in dry climates where seasonal temperatures remain above freezing year-round, thriving in sandy soil. It is also easy to grow indoors.
Aloe vera is rich in antioxidants. The thick leaves of the aloe vera plant, which usually grow between a foot and two feet in length, contain a slimy, thick gel containing most of the active compounds. This includes amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The antioxidants in aloe vera belong to the polyphenol family and can help satisfy the body’s need for these important substances.
Antioxidants perform the vital role of neutralizing free radicals in the system; a constant intake of these compounds can contribute to maintaining the proper balance between antioxidants and free radicals to keep our physical engines running smoothly. (2)
Aloe vera helps neutralize bacteria. The antibacterial properties of aloe vera also make it useful in controlling the growth of harmful bacteria.
Aloe vera may be best known for its value in treating burns and was first approved by the FDA for topical use in 1959.
It’s helpful in healing sunburn as well as first- and second-degree burns resulting from accidents and injuries.
The leaves can be sliced open and applied directly to affected areas; one strategy is to tape an opened leaf onto a small burn or wound with the gel facing down.
A review of data from four separate studies on the efficacy of aloe vera in treating burns showed an average reduction of 9 full days on healing time compared to results from using conventional medication. (3)
While studies have been conducted in an effort to determine how aloe vera performs when used to treat other types of wounds, evidence was inconclusive. (4)
As a topical application to healthy skin, aloe vera helps boost collagen production. The body’s ability to manufacture this substance decreases with age, and skin elasticity depends on this process.
When 30 women over 45 years old applied aloe vera gel to skin over a three-month period, collagen levels increased. (5)
Aloe vera is a common ingredient in many skin care products, as well as preparations designed to provide relief for sun exposure. Some believe the respectable levels of vitamin B, C, and E found in aloe vera gel are helpful for improving skin health, and when taken internally, it may provide moisturizing activity that works its magic from the inside out. (8)
Aloe vera can also help improve oral health. Ulcers in the mouth, usually called canker sores, are a common health problem many people experience during stressful times in their lives.
These painful and unsightly sores form on the inside of the mouth, as well as on or near the lips; it generally takes between 7 and 10 days for the sores to heal.
When test subjects in a study with nearly 200 people who suffered from repeated outbreaks of canker sores applied aloe vera patches to the affected area, sores were smaller than usual, but healing did not occur faster than with corticosteroids used in conventional treatment. (9)
However, another study indicated aloe vera not only sped up the healing process, it also reduced the amount of pain participants experienced from the ulcers. (10)
Another widespread health issue aloe vera has been used to treat is controlling plaque build-up in the mouth. When bacterial biofilms build up on the teeth, the incidence of gum disease and tooth decay increase.
Chlorhexidrine is the active ingredient often used in mouthwashes to reduce oral plaque accumulation; during a short trial lasting 4 days, the effects of aloe vera juice in controlling plaque for a group of 300 healthy people were measured against conventional products, with comparable performance results. (11)
When other test subjects used aloe vera juice as an oral rinse over 2- and 4-week periods, similar results were noted. (12)
Through killing both streptococcus mucans (a bacteria that promotes the formation of plaque) and candida albicans (a yeast that can cause various health issues when overgrowth becomes a problem), aloe vera can be helpful in maintaining better oral health. (13)
The sticky gel inside aloe vera leaves has been traditionally used as a remedy for diabetes. In some cases, it has been found effective in regulating blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity. (14)
Aloe vera improves the absorption of both vitamin C and vitamin E. There is often a synergy between different antioxidants, where higher levels of one antioxidant help with the functioning of a different antioxidant.
This seems to be the case with aloe vera when it comes to two other powerful antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin E. According to one study published in the journal Phytomedicine in 2005, aloe vera enhances the ability of your body to absorb both vitamin C and E (18).
In the study, a group of volunteers took a combination of vitamin C and vitamin E either alone or in combination of aloe vera extract or aloe vera gel. After each of the experiments, the researchers tracked the levels of the metabolized versions of vitamin C and vitamin E in the blood for several hours.
They were able to show that both aloe vera preparations (the whole leaf extract as well as the gel) were effective at increasing the body’s levels of both antioxidants.
While it’s not clear whether this increase in bioavailability increases any of the actual benefits you’d get from vitamin C and vitamin E, it is clear that aloe vera interact with these compounds to increase their uptake.
Aloe vera gel might help with ulcerative colitis. Since aloe vera gel soothes irritated skin, it’s not a huge leap in reasoning to expect that it might help with tissue inside your body, too.
A randomized clinical trial published in 2004 by researchers in the UK tested this hypothesis by using aloe vera gel supplements to treat ulcerative colitis, a painful condition that causes swelling and inflammation in the digestive tract (19).
In the study, 44 patients with ulcerative colitis were randomly assigned to take either 100 ml of aloe vera gel per day or a placebo for a period of four weeks. The researchers tracked how many patients went into remission and the degree to which they improved on a standardized survey of ulcerative colitis symptoms.
They found that, compared to the placebo group, the patients receiving the aloe vera supplement were more likely to experience remission, and had significantly better scores on their ratings of symptoms.
Though this study was quite small, it was nevertheless promising and suggests that aloe vera gel supplements could be a useful way to get inflammatory conditions of the digestive tract such as ulcerative colitis under control.
Some trials indicate liver function may be negatively impacted by long-term use of aloe vera juice taken internally. (20)
Information from more trials are necessary to determine the efficacy of aloe vera in managing symptoms of diabetes.
Aloe vera has also been used successfully to treat constipation. Just beneath the prickly outer skin is a layer containing a yellowish substance called latex. The latex is rich in barbaloin.
Concerns about the safety of aloin when used frequently as a laxative resulted in discontinuation of aloe vera latex as an over-the-counter remedy in 2002.
A case report published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science in 2010 describes a series of three separate cases of women, all of whom reported to the hospital with signs of possible liver failure (25).
After diagnostic tests determined that all of the women had signs of liver toxicity, the medical team realized that the women had been taking aloe vera supplements.
After discontinuing the supplements, levels of liver enzymes returned to normal and the women recovered. The authors of the case study cautioned that aloe vera should be considered an agent that is potentially toxic to the liver.
According to a review study published in 2019 in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health C by researchers for the National Center for Toxicological Research, aloe use has been associated with low calcium levels, kidney failure, and hypersensitivity reactions (26).
Some research has even found that aloe vera leaf extract is carcinogenic in rats, leading to an international agency on carcinogens to classify aloe vera as a possible human carcinogen.
Aloe vera has been studied at a wide range of doses, ranging from as small as 50 mg to as large as 1000 mg per day.
Generally, doses in scientific research have been on the lower end of this spectrum, and given the potential for aloe vera to cause side effects, there’s an even stronger case to stick to the low end if you choose to use aloe vera gel, especially at the beginning.
Q: What is aloe vera good for?
A: In addition to its well-publicized ability to help heal sunburn, aloe vera gel is a popular supplement for tamping down on inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract.
It’s been studied as a treatment for ulcerative colitis, and it may also hold promise for similar conditions like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Aloe vera also shows promise for treating type two diabetes, and for combating viral conditions like cold sores and other oral infections.
Q: Are aloe vera supplements safe?
A: Compared to other supplements, aloe vera does not have quite as good of a safety record. It is known to be associated with several cases of liver toxicity, and some research on mice suggests that aloe vera could be carcinogenic. Aloe vera could also cause low calcium levels, diarrhea, skin hypersensitivity, and problems with kidney function as well, according to a scientific review of its toxicity (27).
On the other hand, several small clinical studies do suggest that aloe vera could be a beneficial supplement for certain conditions, so you’ll have to weigh the possible benefits and side effects to gauge whether aloe vera is a good supplement for you.
Q: How much aloe vera juice should you drink daily?
A: When it comes to dosing, aloe vera is a little tricky. A safe place to start is 100 ml, but some research has used quite a lot more.
However, because aloe vera is not necessarily devoid of side effects, a lower dose is likely a better place to start anyways.
Q: Does aloe vera have benefits for men?
A: Perhaps because aloe vera is traditionally thought of as a skincare product, and skincare tends to be more popular among women, aloe vera is not often thought of as useful for men.
While there isn’t any research in humans that suggests aloe vera could be particularly beneficial for men, some very preliminary work from researchers in Iran has found evidence that aloe vera can boost testosterone levels and improve sperm quality in rats (28).
As you probably suspect, research in rats does not necessarily translate to humans—indeed, other work in rats also suggests that aloe vera could cause cancer, so interpret this testosterone research with caution.
Q: Is aloe vera good for weight loss?
A: Aloe vera has not been studied in detail as a natural weight loss supplement. However, some preliminary research does indicate that aloe vera may contain compounds that are helpful for controlling the symptoms of one of the biggest chronic conditions that is associated with being overweight: type two diabetes.
Research out of Japan has identified five different molecular compounds in aloe vera that have anti-diabetic effects, indicating that aloe vera could help control blood sugar and combat insulin insensitivity (29).
Though aloe vera might not help you lose weight, more research may lead to it being used as a way to control some of the negative effects of being overweight or obese.
Q: Can aloe vera help your hair?
A: Given that skin and hair actually contain many of the same proteins, it shouldn’t be shocking that liquid aloe vera can help your hair.
Though there haven’t been any formal scientific studies on the matter, some beauty product aficionados swear by washing their hair with aloe vera leaf juice on a regular basis.
The aloe vera, they claim, helps restore their hair follicles leaving them healthier and shinier than before. Could aloe vera really be a useful hair product? Only more research will tell.
Q: How do you use aloe vera?
A: If you are using aloe vera for sunburn, all you need to do is apply it liberally to the burnt area several times per day.
However, if you are taking an aloe vera supplement, you’ll want to take your desired dosage either in capsule or liquid form, perhaps blended into a smoothie or protein shake if you don’t like the taste of aloe vera juice.
There isn’t much in the way of data on when to take aloe vera during the day (i.e. whether it’s better to take in the morning versus the evening), or whether doses should be split up.
For now, it’s best to stick with what scientific research has done, if you are choosing to take aloe vera: taking a dose once per day.
Q: Should you take aloe vera when you are pregnant?
A: There are many supplements that are fine to take while pregnant, but aloe vera is not one of them.
Given the potential connection between aloe vera supplementation and the development of kidney or liver problems (plus the risk of carcinogenic effects, at least in studies on animal models), it’s too risky to take a chance with aloe vera during pregnancy.
The effects of aloe vera on an unborn child are not well-explored from a scientific perspective, so it’s far better to play it safe with aloe vera.
Aloe vera provides a natural option for treating skin issues, improving oral health, bumping up antioxidant intake, and may also help in regulating blood sugar.
It shows some promise for inflammatory conditions of the digestive tract as well, including ulcerative colitis. Aloe vera does carry the risk of damage to the kidneys and liver, and has been associated with low calcium levels, diarrhea, and may be carcinogenic, according to animal studies.
It hasn’t been studied well enough to establish firm dosage recommendations, but somewhere in the vicinity of 100 ml or 100 mg per day seems like a good place to start based on work done so far.
For BodyNutrition‘s #1 aloe vera recommendation, click here.