Aloe vera: A review of toxicity and adverse clinical effects

J Environ Sci Health C Environ Carcinog Ecotoxicol Rev. 2016 Apr 2;34(2):77-96. doi: 10.1080/10590501.2016.1166826.


The Aloe plant is employed as a dietary supplement in a variety of foods and as an ingredient in cosmetic products. The widespread human exposure and its potential toxic and carcinogenic activities raise safety concerns. Chemical analysis reveals that the Aloe plant contains various polysaccharides and phenolic chemicals, notably anthraquinones. Ingestion of Aloe preparations is associated with diarrhea, hypokalemia, pseudomelanosis coli, kidney failure, as well as phototoxicity and hypersensitive reactions. Recently, Aloe vera whole leaf extract showed clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in rats, and was classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible human carcinogen (Group 2B). This review presents updated information on the toxicological effects, including the cytotoxicity, genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, and adverse clinical effects of Aloe vera whole leaf extract, gel, and latex.

Keywords: Aloe gel; Aloe vera; aloe latex; carcinogenicity; genotoxicity; toxicological effects.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aloe / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Anthraquinones / toxicity
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Carcinogens / toxicity*
  • Cosmetics
  • DNA Damage
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity*
  • Polysaccharides / toxicity


  • Anthraquinones
  • Carcinogens
  • Cosmetics
  • Plant Extracts
  • Polysaccharides