An estimated 382 million people around the world have type 2 diabetes, and less than half of them have the disease under control. A recent meta-analysis published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine suggests that oral aloe vera may help lower blood glucose levels. Could oral aloe vera be a possible treatment for diabetes and pre-diabetes? Let’s see what researchers uncovered.
Aloe vera has been touted as a tonic for chronic conditions such as asthma, high blood pressure, glaucoma, irritable bowel disease, and diabetes, but thus far studies have shown minimal evidence and some inconsistencies. Still, the purported health benefits of aloe vera hold strong, so researchers at the David Grant USAF Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California investigated aloe vera’s effect on blood sugar levels.
They looked for studies covering oral aloe vera’s effect on blood glucose levels using measures such as (FBG), hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), and oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). They only found 9 studies that fit the bill. All 9 included FBG, a test that measures blood sugar levels after at least 8 hours of drinking or eating nothing except water. Only 5 measured HbA1c, a test that measures average blood glucose levels over a 2-3 month period, an admittedly more accurate marker of actual blood sugar levels and possible insulin overload.
The analysis showed that an oral treatment of aloe vera lowered FBG by 46.6 mg/dl and HbA1c by 1.05 mg/dl.
The researchers explained, “the data suggest that patients with an FBG ≥200 mg/dl may see a greater benefit,” and on average patients experienced a FBG reduction of 109.9 mg/dl.
The research still does not point to any conclusive finding, however. There were inconsistencies in the formulations of aloe vera used across the different studies. The trial periods ranged from 4-14 weeks, and in some cases there was a lack of blinding and randomization to the studies, which makes results less definitive. Researchers also had no way of knowing how devoted patients were to taking their oral aloe vera treatment consistently. Still, results are promising!
How Aloe Vera May Help with Diabetes
Aloe vera contains at least 75 health-promoting nutrients in its green outer rind and its gel-like innards. Many of the vitamins, enzymes, minerals, salicylic acids, phytosterols, amino acids, polysaccharides, monosaccharaides, saponins, lignins and anthraquinones in aloe vera have been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels. Trace elements found in aloe vera, such as manganese, chromium, magnesium, and zinc, have also been shown to help improve insulin function.
Note: Oral aloe vera is considered a powerful laxative, so while it may help with constipation, it may also cause diarrhea. Experts recommend taking 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel daily to help with diabetes. Use with caution.