Does Aloe Vera Really Assist Weight Loss?

Claim

Aloe vera assists weight loss.

Verdict

False

There is no scientific proof that aloe vera assists with weight loss in humans.

Origin

There are thousands of online posts recommending aloe vera (and commercially available related products) for weight loss. Most of these blogs recommend aloe vera for weight loss without providing any references to back up the claim. These unreferenced posts claim that aloe vera helps to reduce weight through a number of mechanisms including boosting metabolism, regulating sugar levels, acting as an anti-oxidant and laxative.

There are no published clinical trials in humans looking specifically at the effects of aloe vera on weight loss.

The only studies looking at the anti-obesity effect of aloe vera were done in Sprague-Dawley and Zucker Fatty Diabetes Rats (1, 2). Sprague-Dailey rats are commercially available docile albino rats with long heads and tails that are used in laboratory based research.  Zucker Fatty Diabetes Rats are genetically modified rats with diabetes, obesity and a high reproductive capacity.

In the first study,  aloe vera gel powder was given to Sprague-Dawley rats with diet-induced obesity for 90 days (1). Modest decreases in body weight and significant reductions in subcutaneous fat and visceral fat weight were noted in the aloe vera treated rats as compared with the obese control rat group.

A second study from the same laboratory showed that two phytosterols derived from aloe vera (ophenol and cycloartanol) resulted in a greater reduction of visceral fats in the aloe vera treated Zucker Fatty Diabetes Rats  as compared to obese control rats (2).

A 2016 review of aloe vera toxicity cautioned against injudicious use of aloe vera and listed diarrhea, hypokalemia, pseudomelanosis coli, kidney failure, phototoxicity, hypersensitivity reactions and possible carcinogensis as potential side effects of ingestion of aloe vera (3).

In summary, the only data on aloe vera in weight loss comes from studies in genetically modified rats. There are no human clinical trials to support the claim that aloe vera helps reduce weight.

 References 

  1. Administration of dried Aloe vera gel powder reduced body fat mass in diet-induced obesity (DIO) rats. Misawa E, Tanaka M, Nabeshima K, Nomaguchi K, Yamada M, Toida T, et al. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol. 2012;58:195–201. [PubMed]
  2. Oral ingestion of Aloe vera phytosterols alters hepatic gene expression profiles and ameliorates obesity-associated metabolic disorders in zucker diabetic fatty rats. Misawa E, Tanaka M, Nomaguchi K, Nabeshima K, Yamada M, Toida T, et al.J Agric Food Chem. 2012;60:2799–806.
  3. Aloe vera: A review of toxicity and adverse clinical effects. Guo X, Mei N. J Environ Sci Health C Environ Carcinog Ecotoxicol Rev. 2016 Apr 2;34(2):77-96. doi: 10.1080/10590501.2016.1166826. Review.
Summary

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