Everyone knows how good it feels to put Aloe Vera on a sunburn. The healing link between Aloe Vera and diabetes is a little less known. Interestingly, preliminary research points towards the use of the plant to lower or improve blood glucose levels. Intriguing. Let’s take a closer look.
Aloe Vera gel contains 75 different nutrients and over 200 active compounds. There are at least 500 different studies touting Aloe Vera’s health benefits to humans. Aloe Vera is just one of over 400 species of the aloe type of plant. Early references to Aloe Vera can be found in both ancient Egypt and the bible.
While no one region can claim native Aloe Vera, it most likely originated in Northern Africa. The plant is now widely grown all over the world.
For centuries, people have been using the gel found in the plant to treat burns, scrapes and minor cuts. Aloe Vera juice is also widely touted as a soothing treatment for digestive problems such as heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome and as a laxative. Lately, other health benefits have been emerging.
More recently, at least two human studies and multiple rat studies have found a positive effect of Aloe Vera juice in improving fasting blood glucose.
The first study was conducted by Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand. Thirty six human type 2 diabetics were treated with 2 tablespoons of 80% Aloe Vera juice. There was also a control group of 36 patients, who did not receive the treatment. All 72 patients had similar blood glucose levels at the beginning of the study.
By the end of week two of the study, the Aloe Vera consuming group had lowered their fasting blood glucose by 17 percent. By the end of six weeks, this group had lowered their fasting blood glucose 57 percent (43 percent of the starting value). Wow!
But that is not all! Blood triglycerides were lowered to 45 percent of initial value at the end of the six week study period.
A second study was also conducted by the same research team at Mahidol University. The results were similarly stunning. This time 76 type 2 diabetics participated in the study. At the end of six weeks, FBG was lowered by 49 percent and triglycerides were lowered by 52 percent.
A third study with over 3,000 diabetics showed amazing potential. After two months of consuming an Aloe Vera and psyllium husk found that 94 percent of the diabetic participants had their blood glucose levels return to normal. This last study is very impressive, but it should be noted that the methodology, etc., of the study were flawed.
Also, NO adverse affects were reported in any of these trials.
The first two studies above, and to a lesser extent the third, show that there is some impressive research regarding the positive effects of Aloe Vera.
The National Institute of Health is quick to point out that further studies are needed to definitively determine Aloe Vera’s affect on blood glucose levels. Nonetheless, the initial reports are very promising.
In fact, the results are so promising that the Americans with Diabetes Association called Aloe Vera one of the “seven most promising supplements.”
All in all, the future is looking bright for Aloe Vera and diabetes!
Yongchaiyudha S, Rungpitarangsi V, Bunyapraphatsara N, Chokechaijaroenporn O. Anti-diabetic activity of Aloe Vera L. juice. I. Clinical trial in new cases of diabetes mellitus. Phytomedicine. 1996;3:241–243
Bunyapraphatsara N, Yongchaiyudha S, Rungpitarangsi V, Chokechaijaroenporn O. Anti-diabetic activity of Aloe Vera L. juice. II. Clinical trial in diabetes mellitus patients in combination with glibenclamide. Phytomedicine. 1996;3:245–248
Boudreau MD, Beland FA (April 2006). “An evaluation of the biological and toxicological properties of Aloe Barbadensis (miller), Aloe Vera”. Journal of environmental science and health. Part C, Environmental carcinogenesis & ecotoxicology reviews 24 (1): 103�54.
Gloria Y. Yeh, David M. Eisenberg, Ted J. Kaptchuk, and Russell S. Phillips, Systematic Review of Herbs and Dietary Supplements for Glycemic Control in Diabetes, Diabetes Care 26: 1277-1294.
By Erich Schultz – Last Reviewed April 2013.