An advance-access letter by International Aloe Science Council (IASC) Science Advisor Steven Dentali, Ph.D., to the editor of the peer-reviewed journal Toxicological Sciences has been published in response to a 2012 research article that IASC maintains misrepresents the material tested and thus could be misleading to consumers.
The study, by researchers from the National Center for Toxicological Research at the Food and Drug Administration indicated that "Aloe vera whole-leaf extract" is an intestinal irritant in rats and mice and a carcinogen of the large intestine in rats.
"At issue for IASC is that the article "omits a vital test-material qualifier from the title and throughout the article," said Dr. Dentali in his letter to the editor. "The research was conducted on nondecolorized aloe vera whole leaf extract, and inclusion of the term nondecolorized in the description of the tested plant material is essential to ensure that it is accurately identified. ... Failure to disclose this important distinction in the identity of the tested ingredient is simply inaccurate and grossly misleading."
The difference between a decolorized whole leaf extract and a nondecolorized one is that latex anthrones and anthraquinones, some of which have been shown to be carcinogenic, have been removed in decolorized whole leaf extracts of aloe vera. Decolorized whole leaf extracts of aloe vera are the only ones generally available to consumers in dietary supplement and food products sold in the United States.
"Our concern is that while it may be technically correct to leave out 'non-decolorized' from the title of the research article, it's liable to mislead consumers without it," Dentali said separately in response to a rebuttal letter to the editor by the study's lead researcher, Mary D. Boudreau. Boudreau's letter clarifies that the previous research on oral studies included the term non-decolorized.
"IASC appreciates the chemical differences of various aloe vera leaf juice dietary ingredients, which is why IASC certifies only those products for oral consumption that are low in aloin," said Devon Powell, IASC executive director. "Unfortunately, the researchers of the original article failed to recognize the likelihood of consumers and consumer organizations mistakenly thinking this research applies to the aloe vera products typically consumed by the general public. This is regrettable for publicly funded research, and is a disservice to consumers of safe, decolorized aloe vera products."