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Aloe vera has been experiencing a real hype for some time. Initially only used as a skin cream, it is now found in various dietary supplements. A reason to take a closer look and ask if aloe vera isn't poisonous.

In a nutshell

  • Aloe leaf shell contains potentially deadly toxins (anthraquinones)
  • The gel-like interior of the leaves, which the plant uses to store water, is edible
  • Be careful when harvesting the leaves
  • let the poisonous yellow plant sap run off
  • Pets and small children are particularly at risk

Parts of aloe vera are poisonous

There is no general answer to the question of whether aloe vera is poisonous. Because the answer is both “yes” and “no”. However, a very clear "yes" can be said for the outer leaf cover and the yellowish plant sap. Because it contains aloine and anthraquinones. The latter in particular have been shown to have several disadvantageous properties:

  • toxic (poisonous)
  • carcinogenic (category Carc 1B)
  • labeled H350 by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

Notice: The classification of the carcinogenic properties has not yet been implemented into national law. However, the ECHA classification is considered state of the art and is therefore quasi-binding.

The situation is different with the gel-like substance inside the leaf of aloe vera. This actually serves as a water reservoir for the plant and has no toxins. Therefore, this gel is included in various products for external use as well as for consumption, for example in smoothies.

Freshly harvested aloe leaf with poisonous plant sap

Notice: However, before you can use the gel, after cutting the leaves, you must drain the poisonous yellow sap they contain.

effect in humans

Depending on the constitution, body weight and of course the dosage, the toxins contained in the leaf envelope and plant sap can cause various symptoms with increasing intensity:

  • Disturbances in the water and electrolyte balance
  • Intense loss of potassium
  • protein and blood in the urine
  • Cramping pains
  • Intense diarrhea
  • kidney inflammation

Notice: A quantity of around 8 grams of the toxin anthraquinone can lead to death in adult, healthy people.

Aloe vera as a houseplant

The plant leaves are not always eaten consciously or intentionally. It is much more common for children or pets, above all dogs or cats, to discover the plants as toys and thus unintentionally come into contact with the toxins. Children in particular tend to put things in their mouths, so the risk of contact is particularly high here.

Real aloe is particularly poisonous for pets.

Notice: Since children, dogs, cats and other pets, due to their much lower body weight, consume much smaller amounts to trigger symptoms of poisoning, you should carefully consider keeping aloe as a houseplant in these cases.

frequently asked Questions

How do dogs and cats react to the poison of the aloe plant?

Basically, the physiognomies of all mammals are similar. Therefore, the anthraquinones in aloe vera are just as dangerous to our pets as they are to us humans.

Can the aloe vera gel be extracted without coming into contact with the toxin?

Again and again one reads that leaves cut at the base of the stem can "bleed out" the toxins in a glass of water. However, there is no guarantee that the toxins will no longer be present. You should therefore refrain from eating leaves that you have cut yourself.

So are aloe vera products containing the gel safe?

In theory, products that only use the gel of the leaves are not toxic. However, a wide variety of products repeatedly attract attention in tests due to contamination with a wide variety of chemical products such as preservatives. These can put just as much strain on the human organism as the actual toxins of the plant. Also, contamination of the gel with components of the leaf envelope cannot be completely ruled out.

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