Beware of Buying "Aloe Vera" That Contains No Aloe Vera

Xtalk via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
Xtalk via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0 / Xtalk via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Aloe vera can be the harbinger of relief for sunburn, but the latest news about the gel you buy at the drug store should make you burn even more. In lab tests, several generic store-brand aloe vera gels don't appear to contain any aloe at all, Bloomberg reports.

Even though store-brand aloe vera from Wal-Mart, Target, and CVS lists the leaf juice of the aloe barbadensis plant—as the No. 1 or No. 2 ingredient, no less—lab tests commissioned by Bloomberg News showed no traces of such an ingredient. The nuclear magnetic resonance tests showed the presence of additives used to imitate aloe, like maltodextrin, but did not detect any of the three chemical markers contained in true aloe, such as acemannan, malic acid, and glucose.

Naturally, the companies that make the aloe vera sold by Wal-Mart, Target, and Walgreens as their store brands denied the accuracy of the findings. However, several law firms have already filed class-action lawsuits against companies like CVS and Fruit of the Earth, the makers of the “100 percent Aloe Vera Gel” sold by major retailers.

When shopping for aloe vera gel, don’t go for the cheap stuff, since that low price may reflect that the company hasn’t spent the money on aloe vera powder, substituting cheap ingredients like maltodextrin. Better yet, buy the plant itself, giving you the peace of mind of always knowing it’s truly aloe.

[h/t Bloomberg]