Food Facts Friday: Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has been used topically for many years. Recently there has been interest in drinking aloe vera. Products such as aloe juice and aloe water have been popping up on store shelves. These products have claims of improved digestion, weight loss, lowering blood glucose, improved skin, and a boost in immune function. Despite health benefit claims, there is not enough evidence to support these claims.
Kidney Disease and Aloe Vera
Additional concerns arise when adding chronic kidney disease (CKD) to the equation. The consumption of aloe vera products is contraindicated in patients with renal disorders. This is because it is associated with electrolyte imbalance and medication interactions. Additionally, aloe vera products lack standardization and consistency – meaning you do not know how much of the active ingredient is in the products you purchase.
Studies have shown aloe vera can have the following effects:
- blood thinning
- blood sugar lowering
- binding with medications to reduce their absorption
These effects were shown in individuals who did not have CKD. Electrolyte imbalance already exists with CKD, and most individuals with CKD are on a variety of medications. The risks are magnified for those with CKD. The science lacks support for beneficial claims. In fact, aloe latex is no longer recognized as an over the counter drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because there is insufficient data to establish it as a safe laxative.
In summary, uncertainty in both the product and the potential for harmful or undesirable side effects make aloe vera an undesirable oral supplement for those with CKD. It is important to consult your medical team before consuming alternative medicine products. Products are not typically studied on individuals with CKD and their use can be associated with serious risks.
Kidney-friendly Beverage Options
Instead of aloe vera consider other beverages with recipes that are acceptable for a kidney diet.
Read more on juice trends and guidelines for staying safe with CKD
“Aloe.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 17 Oct. 2017, www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-aloe/art-20362267.
“Aloe Vera.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 29 Nov. 2016, nccih.nih.gov/health/aloevera.
Foster M, Hunter D, Samman S. Evaluation of the Nutritional and Metabolic Effects of Aloe vera. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 3. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92765/
USDA Branded Food Products Database, United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, 25 June 2017.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.