With dozens of species worldwide, the aloe vera plant provides one of nature's direct paths to natural healing. Native mostly to Africa, it can be used to treat burns and aid digestion, and acts as an anti-inflammatory. You can tap its healing properties directly from the plant or in manufactured juices, gels, creams and capsules. Aloe vera juice, while delicate, keeps for a period of time, if you follow certain guidelines.
The leaves of succulent aloe vera plants consist mostly of water. Similarly, packaged aloe vera juices contain water and other liquid ingredients in addition to the actual aloe sap. Shelf life depends partly on the brand purchased; dark glass bottles and oxidation-free packaging preserve potency. Some brand labels recommend refrigerator storage from point of sale, even for unopened product.
Fresh Aloe Vera Juice
Extracted directly from the leaves at home, aloe vera sap can be applied topically (as can manufactured aloe vera juice) or mixed with liquids for consumption as a beverage. Fresh aloe has a shorter shelf life compared to brand name products. Still, you can store it in the refrigerator for about a week. You can also keep cut leaves fresh in the refrigerator by wrapping them tightly in plastic wrap.
While no hard and fast rule applies, you can usually keep aloe vera juice stored for a time in the refrigerator. Differences in ingredients and packaging affect the longevity of different products. However, it's generally safe to consume the product within three weeks of opening it. If it's challenging for you to use it in that time, remember that you can use the juice topically, as well.
Be sure to consult with a health care professional regarding best practices for you and your family. Bear in mind that mixing herbs with prescribed medications should be done cautiously and in consultation with a doctor. The aloe vera plant's properties don't benefit everyone, especially if you're pregnant or have a digestive disorder.
Sheela Kangal has worked in the performing arts industry for more than 20 years. She is also a writer and researcher, with work appearing in "American Theatre" magazine and several online publications. Kangal holds a Master of Fine Arts in playwriting from the University of Iowa.