Early 2015, the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) intends to list Aloe Vera, whole leaf extract as a known state to cause cancer under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65). With this listing, many businesses and clients around the globe, who do business in California, are questioning on the current situation at hand. With OEHHA accepting emails and comments about this situation from many different parties and professions, it appears that many people believe that ANYTHING deriving from Aloe Vera is now banned from the state of California. That is in fact false.
So what is Aloe Vera? Aloe Vera (refer to as Aloe barbadenis Miller plant) is a succulent plant widely used in alternative medicine, cosmetics and drinks. Aloe Vera is one of the oldest mentioned plants on record due to its medicinal properties and health benefits. Ancient Egyptians and Chinese used Aloe Vera to treat fevers, burns, and wounds. It was even mentioned in history that Alexander the Great used Aloe Vera to treat wounded soldiers and that Cleopatra used aloe in her daily skin treatments. Also reported in 1944, the Japanese used aloe gel to heal their wounds and claimed to have faster healing/less scaring. If you look at an image of an Aloe Vera plant, you see it is similar to a cactus. Of course, no one is going to eat the shell of a cactus (due to its thorns), instead they will cut it up and filter out the useful part.
What made OEHHA concern about Aloe Vera was that it contained a substance called aloin. Aloin, also known as Barbaloin, is a chemical compound that has been declared by the US FDA (2002) to be a causer of cancer and tumors. To avoid lawsuits in 2002, many companies have already developed methods to remove the aloin from multiple natural products. This lead to the creation/application of Aloe Vera decolorized powders, oils, butters and extracts where the Aloin was filtered out via carbon filtration.
How are companies approaching this new listing? With the collaboration of many scientists, formulators and lawyers from many natural made companies, it has been declared that…
“OEHHA’s (Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment) proposed listing identifies the chemical concerned as “Aloe Vera, whole leaf extract”. It defines whole leaf extract of Aloe vera as “the liquid portion of the Aloe vera leaf, (what remains after removal of fibrous material, such as lignified plant fibers)” and importantly clarifies that this substance is not the same as Aloe vera decolorized whole leaf extract, Aloe vera gel, Aloe vera gel extract, or Aloe vera latex, which would not be covered by this proposed listing.”
With this declaration many companies urged OEHHA to redefine its listing to avoid confusion of what the proposed Proposition 65 listing covers and what it does not cover. Company’s requests that the title of the proposed material be modified to read ”Aloe vera, non-decolorized whole leaf extract” with an appropriate description to clarify that this material is an unpurified ingredient, since it contains Aloin.
So what is the future looking like for many Cosmetic companies and their Aloe Vera products? Still good, as long as they grasp the situation, don’t use Aloe Vera (whole leaf extract), and can confidentially address the understanding about Aloe Vera to their clients. Some cosmetic companies who use Aloe Vera, whole leaf extract, for their products will have to resort to the alternative Aloe Vera materials mentioned before.
Will there be a decline in product quality? With the US FDA mandate in 2002, many cosmetic ingredients and formulation companies have already implemented the alternative Aloe Vera ingredients in their products throughout the years. It has been claimed by Terry Laboratories, a company of quality Aloe Vera extracts/concentrates, and multiple high end cosmetic companies that products like Aloe Vera powder (decolorized and carbon filtered) actually provide excellent skin and hair care.
But isn’t this no longer “natural”? Look at the overall situation like this, the Aloe Vera, whole leaf extract, being listed by OEHHA is an unpurified ingredient that can cause cancer. The current Aloe Vera products being implemented already are purified ingredients. This is similar to filtering drinking water or cutting blowfish (Fugu) into eatable sushi. Overall, this policy is to be seen as listing an unpurified ingredient. The aloe products used by us (Aloe Vera powders, oils, butters and Extracts) are NOT affected by this proposed listing. They are all decolorized at some point in the processing via carbon filtration to remove Aloin and therefore are not subject to the Proposition 65 proposed listing.
Overall the situation that Aloe Vera is going through is considered to be ridiculous. The National Toxicology Program was the main convincers that Aloe Vera should be listed on California’s Proposition 65 list for Cancer causing substances. The National Toxicology Program released their findings publicly on Aloe Vera is to why they request OEHHA to list Aloe Vera, whole leaf extract (link provided below). It was stated by the National Toxicology Program that…..
The two-year NTP study of a non-decolorized whole leaf extract of Aloe vera given in an animal’s drinking water found clear evidence of carcinogenic activity in male and female rats, based on tumors of the large intestine. There was no evidence of carcinogenic activity in mice… We suspect it may be the aloin, but we don’t know for sure. We hope to do more studies to determine what may be causing the tumors.
It’s upsetting to see the California government allowing “uncertainty” and no actual provided evidence to list a banning on something that has been used for generations. This can be seen as a marketing ploy in getting the Aloe Vera companies out of business in the state of California and allowing industrialized products to come in. Similar to the Paraben scare, companies and individuals are trying to strike fear on a product that has been used for generations. It’s discouraging to see individual lives be run by fear and accusations from a couple of self claimed “scientist”.
As humans, we should always question everything and live free to make our own decisions what we think is right and wrong. Science is usually defined from three words, “observation, experiment and evidence”. Observations and experiments may not be perfect and even the limits of our current technologies and interpretations may be flawed. But, it’s the evidence that supports an argument that is the most important and we can choose to either accept it, or not. With the listing having the word “Aloe Vera”, it strikes a lot of fear in people in believe that Aloe Vera as a whole is bad for you. Innovative Body Science has been around for almost 30 years and seen the rise of marketing fear tactics in ruining companies and individual lives. Aloe Vera plays a significant role in many cultures across the globe as it has been praised to have amazing healing properties in traditional and herbal medicine throughout history. Just because a couple of scientist claim it is bad, doesn’t mean it’s a fact.
*For more information, refer to this link:* https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/materials/aloe_vera_508.pdf