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The Effect of Aloe Vera Juice on Liver Enzymes and Hepatic Structure in a Healthy Population

Nicola A. Cook, MSc; Tim C.H. Hoogenboom, MRes; Adrian K.P. Lim, MD, FRCP; Nayna Patel, MSc; Simon D Taylor-Robinson, MD, FRCP; Roger Williams, MD, FRCP

Background: There have been isolated reports of Aloe vera hepatotoxicity, usually manifested by transient liver function test abnormalities. While the European Food Safety Authority has recommended that whole leaf products containing the rind of the Aloe vera plant should not be used for human oral consumption, those Aloe vera gels made of the treated plant pulp alone are considered safe for daily consumption, provided recommended quantities are not exceeded. We aimed to assess hepatic function in healthy volunteers consuming the purified plant pulp Aloe vera gel over a 60 day period. Methods: 35 healthy volunteers consumed the maximum recommended daily dose of 2 oz (57 mL) of Aloe vera gel twice daily for a total of 60 days. The participants attended an initial baseline visit where biochemical measurements of hepatic synthetic function were obtained, and each volunteer underwent hepatic ultrasound with elastography, superb microvascular imaging and image quantification. Further visits were undertaken at days 30 and 60 to undergo the same biochemical and imaging measurements of liver function to monitor if there were any changes in the parameters measured. Results: Seven volunteers failed to complete the study, citing unspecified gastrointestinal upset and/or an inability to tolerate the taste of the Aloe vera gel. None of these individuals had disturbance of biochemical or imaging parameters of hepatic function. Of the remaining 27 healthy volunteers, none had a change in either biochemical indices of liver function, or of ultrasound markers of hepatic blood flow or liver tissue elasticity after 60 days of Aloe vera gel consumption. However, there was a non-significant reduction in serum homocysteine levels as the only detectable change in the cohort. Conclusions: Despite reports of potential hepatotoxicity with some Aloe vera products, in this healthy cohort, extended consumption of purified plant-pulp Aloe vera gel did not have any detectable effects on hepatic function, blood flow or tissue elasticity.

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