The prickly, succulent plant aloe vera has been long touted for its medicinal benefits, including taking the sting out of burns and sores. Its juices have also been bottled and sold as a remedy for conditions such as heartburn and high blood pressure. It’s even been marketed as a substance that can slow the growth of breast cancer.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has warned consumers that there is no evidence that topical aloe vera gels or consumable juices provide any medical benefits that are claimed. Now, a Bloomberg investigation finds that many aloe products contain none of the plant’s juices.
Bloomberg commissioned laboratory tests of store-brand aloe gels purchased from major retailers such as Walmart, Target and CVS. The tests found “no indication” that the products contained the plant’s juices. A fourth gel from Walgreens tested positive for only one of three markers of aloe. Yet, the products’ labels listed aloe barbadensis leaf juice on their labels.
Lab reports showed that three samples contained a cheaper element called maltodextrin, a sugar sometimes used to imitate aloe. The four gels tested by Bloomberg included Walmart’s Equate Aloe Vera Gel with pure aloe vera, CVS Aftersun Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel, and Walgreens Alcohol Free Aloe Vera Body Gel.
Bloomberg’s report comes as alternative medicines and so-called natural products have come under fire from regulators, which could take a bite out of the tremendous growth seen recently in alternative or homeopathic therapies. The U.S. market or aloe vera products alone jumped 11 percent last year to $146 million.
Source: Washington Post