No Evidence of Aloe Vera Found in the Aloe Vera at Wal-Mart, CVS

No Evidence of Aloe Vera Found in the Aloe Vera at Wal-Mart, CVS

'The aloe vera gel many Americans buy to soothe damaged skin contains no evidence of aloe vera at all.

Samples of store-brand aloe gel purchased at national retailers Wal-Mart, Target and CVS showed no indication of the plant in various lab tests. The products all listed aloe barbadensis leaf juice — another name for aloe vera — as either the No. 1 ingredient or No. 2 after water.

There’s no watchdog assuring that aloe products are what they say they are. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve cosmetics before they’re sold and has never levied a fine for selling fake aloe. That means suppliers are on an honor system, even as the total U.S. market for aloe products, including drinks and vitamins, has grown 11 percent in the past year to $146 million, according to Chicago-based market researcher SPINS LLC.'

How can we know what's in non-pharmaceutical products when they aren't regulated?

You can easily grow aloe vera, but 'There’s no conclusive body of scientific research affirming aloe’s healing properties. While some studies have shown a benefit for burns and cuts, “there’s nothing to hang your hat on” in terms of clear evidence, partly because there hasn’t been enough research, said D. Craig Hopp, a program director at the National Center for Complementary and Integrated Health in Bethesda, Maryland.'


Photo: Zygocactus flower

8 Replies

  • Shameful.

  • It is important to consider brand when purchasing supplements and healing agents purchased over the counter. I'm not surprised that supplements branded by major stores are not authentic. It's been proven true for many supplements. One learns to choose brands.

    Breaking open an aloe vera leaf and applying the gooey salve inside is very soothing and cooling on sunburn. Though I must admit that I find Boiron's Calendula Gel or Cream to be far superior. After recently burning my arm on a pan that had been in a 400 degree oven, with a 1" diameter red burning area, it was totally gone in about 30-40 minutes after applying Calendula Cream. It also reduces itching on bug bites, and heals allergic rashes and other skin irritations, including hemorrhoids. I love that it is plant-based, without typical chemicals in "approved" drugs.

    I know you don't consider products that haven't been officially vetted as viable, Neil. Nevertheless, Calendula Cream works, as do many other homeopathic remedies. I respect your fear of using products that haven't been through clinical trials. On the other hand, you are missing out on some healing products that work without side effects, and are considerably less expensive.

  • Hi Starsafta,

    Sorry to hear about your burn. It’s great that the Calendula Cream helped so much, and how it helps other conditions too. Calendula cream seems to be a well-tested and useful product, which is great.

    But it isn't always the case that because something is plant-based, it will be safe. Some plants contain very toxic chemicals. And even when the chemicals in the plants do have medicinal benefits (when given in correct doses), the amounts of those chemicals can vary between different plants and are hard to predict.

    As you say, it’s important to choose the right brands when buying supplements over the counter. Exact doses can be vital. But it isn't easy for people to make the right choices, when there is no regulation of these products and folk don't know what they are getting.

    I don’t think Neil is missing out because of a “fear of using products that haven’t been through clinical trials”. He's often shared how he takes green tea tablets and turmeric and finds them helpful. But he's also said how he was taking too much at first and it had bad affects on his liver (as indicated in blood tests at the time). So I'd say he has a healthy caution about these things.

    I reckon it's good to be open-minded but also to have a healthy caution about all things..

    But thank you for the tip about Calendula cream - I'll look out for it.

    Wishing you well,


  • Further to PaulaS's comments, I'm taking high dose green tea because EGCG was proven to be reasonably effective in slowing CLL progression in a Mayo Clinic phase II clinical trial paid for by CLL patients. The turmeric is more experimental - it has only been proven to be active against CLL in vitro (test tube). Many other substances also look good with in vivo testing, because CLL cells are more fragile than healthy B-cells and are easily killed. The problem is that these substances don't work well in the body (in vivo) for a variety of reasons, including the micro-enviromental protection CLL cells arrange. For turmeric, low absorption into the blood stream and rapid elimination by the liver make it is hard to get a high enough blood concentration. There is good evidence that turmeric is a reasonably good anti-inflammatory and I find it seems to help arthritis in my hands - with a possible added bonus that it may help slow my CLL.

    After my diagnosis, I was encouraged by someone close to me to take over the counter supplements to help me overcome constant infections. I found out that was unwise, since supplements where there is evidence that they boost immunity, often do so by boosting lymphocyte production - and we already have more than enough lymphocytes with CLL!

    My liver function tests shot up to worrying levels and my haematologist agreed I should drop back the green tea dose and I also stopped taking the immunity boosting supplements. My liver function tests returned to normal over the next few months. I've since taken a higher green tea dose without impacting my liver function tests. Is that because my liver has improved its capability of dealing with green tea, or was it the immune boosting supplements? I don't know, but I did appreciate having monthly blood tests for 18 months after diagnosis so I could see the impact of what I was taking on my blood counts.


  • Dear Starsafta,

    Many thanks for the reminder about calendula. I remember reading about that when I first got into Aloe after suffering from dermatitis. I've still got some Marigolds growing in the garden, just, but won't be making my own gel I guess. For 1st degree burns in the kitchen I'd go under the tap first then into the freezer to find some ice. Speed is the key. Calendula would probably be good for my shoulder at the moment, recovering well now following removal of a small BCC by cauterisation which gives you a second degree burn. I guess you would start using the calendula once you nolonger need a dressing on, which was about 4 weeks in my case.

    Best wishes,


  • At this point I do have to confess to growing my own Aloes and rather than throwing them away, using them as attempted preventative skincare, and then switching to prescription stuff when that doesn't work at times.

    The Aloes grow best on the window ledges on the shady side of the house, in smallish pots of heavy clay soil.

    I was put off cosmetic versions of Aloe gell by benzene on the product list.

    I am amazed at the total lack of regulation of the cosmetic industry. It does seem like literally "anything goes".


  • I am all in favour of regulation of tese areas since often the vulnerable are exploited. Anyhting that lacks robust double blind trialled evednce should be clearly labelled NOT SHOWN TO HAVE ANY BENFICIAL EFFECT and be sold in plain packaging. If it has been fully trialled then the rsults shold also be made clear. SO I am just about to have a (fairly safe) intervention on my heart. I know I will be told that I have a 1 in 1000 chance of death or major side effect (usually a stroke) and a 10 % risk of more modes side effects. All treatment should likewise have its trialled results made clear. The only exception I can see to this are when it is in anycase part of a trial.

  • I have always had an aloe plant in the house. I have used it any time I get a burn or skin needs soothing. It is been helpful for me and my family. I used to buy alouette cosmetics 30 years ago and read about the plant. Might not work for everyone but for minor burns it has been helpful.

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