Aloe vera is a popular plant that has been used for centuries for its health, beauty, medicinal and skin care benefits. Aloe vera juice is a liquid made from the aloe vera plant that shares many of the same properties and benefits. But is aloe vera the same as aloe vera juice? While they share common origins and uses, there are some key differences between the actual plant and the juice that is made from it.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera, often referred to as Aloe barbadensis miller, is a succulent plant species belonging to the Asphodelaceae family. It is a short-stemmed shrub with thick, fleshy leaves that grow up to 2-3 feet in height. Aloe vera is native to tropical regions in Africa, but today it is grown worldwide because of its popularity in alternative medicine and for cosmetic purposes.
There are over 400 different species of aloe plants, but Aloe vera is the most common and well-known variety. The leaves of the aloe vera plant contain a clear gel that is often used topically to treat burns, wounds and various skin conditions. This clear gel contains active compounds including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, polysaccharide and fatty acids that provide the numerous health and therapeutic benefits that aloe vera is known for.
How is Aloe Vera Juice Made?
Aloe vera juice is made by crushing or grinding the entire leaf of the aloe vera plant, followed by various steps to purify and filter the liquid. This results in a rich, deep green colored juice that contains the same active ingredients and benefits as the gel inside the aloe vera plant leaves.
Here is a quick overview of how aloe vera juice is typically made:
- The thick leaves are manually harvested from aloe vera plants that are at least 4 years old.
- The green rind is removed from the outer portion of the aloe leaves.
- The clear aloe gel is extracted by crushing or grinding the entire leaf.
- The ground leaf pulp is mixed with water and citric acid to further purify the liquid.
- Multiple filtration steps are used to remove fibers and residue from the liquid.
- The filtered liquid is pasteurized using high heat to remove any possible contaminants.
- Finally, the purified and filtered liquid is bottled.
This results in a nutritious, safe and bioactive aloe vera juice that can provide many of the same benefits as using the gel directly from the aloe plant leaves.
Nutrients in Aloe Vera vs. Aloe Vera Juice
Both aloe vera gel and juice contain high concentrations of nutrients and antioxidants, including:
- Vitamin A, C and E
- Folic acid
- Amino acids
- Fatty acids
- Minerals like calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper, manganese
- Enzymes like amylase, catalase, lipase, alkaline phosphatase, cellulase, bradykinase
However, the processing and filtration used to make aloe vera juice may slightly alter the nutrient profile. Here is a comparison of some key nutrients found in raw aloe vera gel versus processed aloe vera juice per 100 grams:
|Nutrient||Aloe Vera Gel||Aloe Vera Juice|
As you can see, the nutritional profile is very similar between raw aloe vera gel and processed juice. The juice form actually contains slightly higher amounts of fat and protein. This indicates that processing the aloe vera leaf into juice form preserves most of the beneficial nutrients.
Potential Benefits of Aloe Vera vs. Aloe Vera Juice
Both aloe vera gel and juice are associated with many health and therapeutic benefits when consumed or applied topically. Here are some of the evidence-based benefits of using aloe vera gel or juice:
Aloe Vera Gel Benefits
- Soothes burns, wounds and irritations when used topically
- Moisturizes and hydrates skin
- Contains antioxidants that may help fight skin aging
- May reduce dental plaque and gingivitis when used as a mouthwash
Aloe Vera Juice Benefits
- May improve digestion and laxative effects
- Contains antioxidants that support immunity
- Anti-inflammatory effects may benefit conditions like osteoarthritis
- May help control blood sugar levels
- Supports oral health and hygiene
- Provides hydration and electrolytes
Research shows that the active compounds are well retained during processing of aloe vera juice, which allows it to provide many of the same health benefits as using the raw gel. The juice also has the added benefit of being portable and more versatile to consume.
Using Aloe Vera Gel vs. Juice
Here is a comparison of how aloe vera gel and juice are most commonly used:
|Aloe Vera Gel||Aloe Vera Juice|
|Applied topically to soothe skin irritations, wounds, burns||Consumed orally as a drink by itself or added to smoothies|
|Added to cosmetic products like moisturizers, sunblocks, cleansers||Diluted in water as a mouthwash or gargle|
|Difficult to transport and store long-term||Easy to transport and has long shelf life when bottled|
|Usually harvested directly from home-grown aloe plants||Purchased as a commercial juice product|
|Limited ways to use gel form||Very versatile liquid form|
Aloe vera juice is ideal for oral consumption and as a convenient way to access aloe’s nutrients and benefits. Meanwhile, the gel form provides targeted topical skin and hair applications.
Possible Side Effects
When used appropriately, aloe vera gel and juice are considered safe with very few side effects. However, there are some potential risks to be aware of:
- Topical gel may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction in sensitive individuals
- Oral juice consumption may cause diarrhea or stomach cramps when taken in large amounts
- Diabetics should use caution with aloe juice due to potential blood sugar lowering effects
- Juice form may interact with certain medications like diuretics, insulin or heart drugs
- Not recommended for pregnant or breast feeding women due to lack of safety research
- Possible contamination risk if improperly processed
Always consult your healthcare provider before using aloe supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions or take any medications.
Growing Aloe Vera vs Buying Juice
If you want to access aloe vera’s benefits, you have two options: growing your own aloe vera plants to harvest the gel, or purchasing pre-made aloe vera juice.
Here’s an overview of the pros and cons of each approach:
Growing Aloe Vera Plants
- Provides ultra-fresh aloe gel
- Low cost once established
- Rewarding to grow your own plants
- Requires suitable warm climate
- Plants can take years to mature before harvesting gel
- Regular maintenance and harvesting labor
- Yields limited amounts of gel
- Difficult to transport and store gel
Buying Aloe Vera Juice
- Easy and convenient
- NoWait for plants to mature
- Avoid growing and harvesting work
- Wide range of juice options and sizes
- Long shelf life when bottled
- More versatile than gel form
- Less fresh than home grown
- More costly long-term
- Need to research manufacturing process and quality
For most people, buying pre-made aloe vera juice may provide the easiest and most convenient way to gain access to aloe vera’s benefits. Look for organic, 100% pure inner leaf aloe juice for the highest quality and safety.
Aloe vera and aloe vera juice share the same origins and active compounds from the aloe vera plant. However, the gel directly from the leaf is best suited for topical skin applications. Meanwhile, aloe vera juice offers a practical way to gain both internal and external benefits through oral consumption.
While not exactly the same, aloe vera juice provides comparable nutritional and therapeutic properties as using the gel. Just be sure to choose high-quality, responsibly processed juice to maximize safety and benefits. Drinking just 2-4 ounces of aloe vera juice per day can provide many of the same effects as using the raw leaf gel.