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Posted December 8, 2015

Non-Decolorized Aloe, Goldenseal Root Added to Prop 65 List of Cancer-Causing Chemicals

On December 4, 2015, California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) added non-decolorized whole leaf extract of aloe vera and goldenseal root powder to the state's list of chemicals known to cause cancer - part of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (known as Prop 65). The law requires that dietary supplements sold in the state of California include a warning if they contain one or more chemicals on the list, as these substances may cause cancer or reproductive harm.

( generally applies the Prop 65 limits when testing for contaminants in supplements.)

The decision to add non-decolorized whole leaf extract of aloe vera and goldenseal root powder to the list was determined, in part, on the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification of these products as "possibly carcinogenic to humans," based on evidence from animal studies. 

Whole leaf extract of aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis) is also commonly referred to as whole leaf aloe vera juice or aloe juice. The Prop 65 listing includes only non-decolorized whole leaf extract of aloe vera, which is considered to be a natural constituent of the aloe vera plant. It does not include aloe vera decolorized whole leaf extract, aloe vera gel, or aloe vera gel extract. (Surprisingly, it also does not include aloe vera latex, although it is the latex portion of aloe which has been shown to be a carcinogen in animals).

(See's Review of Aloe Liquids, Gels and Supplements for more information about the different forms of aloe and tests of related products. Products were tested for latex, as well as other constituents of aloe, such as acemannan — the key compound in aloe vera gel.)

Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) root powder is sometimes also known as orangeroot, "Indian turmeric", or "curcuma" — but should not be confused with turmeric or curcumin (Curcuma longa). It is considered to be a natural constituent of the goldenseal plant. Goldenseal root powder is currently available in supplements sold in the U.S. as "goldenseal root", while supplements containing other parts of the plant (stem, leaf and flower) are also available and typically referred to as "goldenseal herb." Supplement labels are required to list the part of the plant they are made from, so you can check the supplement facts panel to be sure. 

(See ConsumerLab's Review of Berberine and Goldenseal Supplements for tests of related products).

To read the OEHHA notice, use the link below.