Answer: Don’t believe the claims. Aloe vera juice or “aloe water” is no weight-loss elixir. It doesn’t speed metabolism or burn fat and calories. Ironically, if it is working, that may mean you’re drinking an unsafe product.

It’s true that aloe vera can contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes important for digestive health. It has a long history as a traditional remedy for a variety of ills and has been shown to help heal ulcerative colitis.

But popular bottled aloe juice is unlikely to be a good source of aloe’s nutrients. The nutrient labels are more likely to show that they are mostly sugar water with sodium. Take a look yourself.

In fact, if one of these popular products did help you shed pounds, it’s likely to be water that you’re shedding—from diarrhea! Aloin, a compound found on the inside surface of the leaf—not in the goopy gel inside the leaf—is a natural laxative. Aloin actually was an active ingredient in over-the-counter laxatives sold in the US until 2002, when the FDA banned it for safety reasons. Aloe juice has been linked to abdominal cramps, red urine, hepatitis, electrolyte imbalance and rebound constipation—and most recently risk for cancer.

While aloe vera juice is no health miracle, most people can enjoy it periodically in small amounts—no more than four ounces—as an occasional digestive aid, says Dr. Rubman. It’s easy to find aloe vera juice that has the aloin removed. Learn what to look for in the Bottom Line article “Aloe Vera Can Cause Cancer.” People who shouldn’t consume aloe vera include those with allergies to the plant, diabetics and anyone with heart disease, electrolyte or bleeding disorders and anyone taking blood thinners.

Just don’t expect it to help you lose weight.