In fact, aloe vera is considered a ‘functional food' as it provides physiological effects to combat many chronic diseases and metabolic disorders.
Read on to learn how it benefits blood sugar, cholesterol, insulin resistance and more.
JUMP TO: What is aloe vera | How does aloe vera work | Aloe vera may improve glucose control | Aloe vera may reduce cholesterol | Insulin resistance & prediabetes | Aloe vera for liver health and inflammation | How to take aloe vera
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe vera is a succulent plant that originated from the Mediterranean and is now a popular product worldwide.
Aloe is a common ingredient in hygiene, beauty, and hair care products because of its soothing properties. It is also used as a gentle laxative to relieve constipation.
If you’ve got a sunburn, aloe can provide a soothing moisturizer. Or if you have a stomach ulcer or acne, then you might want to reach for a bottle of aloe gel or drink a cup of aloe juice because this plant has some powerful healing capabilities.
While aloe vera is rightfully famous for its ability to heal skin wounds and calm the digestive tract, it also has several positive advantages for metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes.
How Does Aloe Vera Work?
Aloe vera contains over 75 bioactive compounds that work in sync to promote health and wellbeing.
It is rich in amino acids, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory fatty acids. It contains potent enzymes, laxative compounds and even hormones.
In addition to fighting inflammation and oxidation, aloe vera has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-obesity properties, as well as the ability to relieve pain.
In terms of blood glucose, cholesterol and insulin resistance, research suggests that it's aloe vera's potent anti-inflammatory capacity that influences metabolism.
Aloe is able to downgrade several pro-inflammatory markers that cause havoc on immune system function. For instance, these pro-inflammatory molecules contribute to insulin resistance, and by suppressing them, the compounds in aloe vera may increase insulin sensitivity, which results in lower blood sugar and a better A1C.
Another mechanism is the phytosterols in aloe vera, these influence glucose and lipid metabolism and help improve various metabolic factors.
Aloe Vera May Improve Glucose Control
A review of 9 studies concluded that aloe vera really can lower blood sugar levels and promote better glycemic control. In these various studies, aloe vera reduced fasting glucose levels by 46.6 mg/dL (2.6 mmol/l) and reduced HbA1c levels by an average 1.05%.
Astoundingly, the reviewers found that people with type 2 diabetes who started with fasting glucose levels above 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/l) were achieving massive reductions in their fasting glucose levels, with an average reduction of 109.9 mg/dL (6.1 mmol/l).
Yes, this is astounding and may not be expected in real life. Still, they also suggest that people with levels under 200 mg/dL (11.1 mmol/l) maintained reductions of 7.62 mg/dL (0.4 mmol/l) after supplementing with aloe vera.
A study in prediabetic and newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic patients, found that, when compared to the placebo group, 8 weeks of aloe vera supplementation resulted in reduced fasting blood glucose, reduced total body weight, reduced fat mass, and reduced insulin levels.
Another study found that two weeks of aloe vera supplementation was more effective at lowering blood glucose (in diabetic rats) than a diabetes medication called Glimiperide. The aloe supplementation also boosted levels of glutathione (an antioxidant) in the blood.
Aloe Vera May Reduce Cholesterol
Multiple studies have found that aloe vera is effective at lowering LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, and overall triglyceride levels.
Natural compounds in aloe vera (called phytosterols) work to manage fatty acids in the liver, which results in lower levels of lipids in the blood and even reduces intra-abdominal fat.
Keeping these lipids in check is especially important for people with type 2 diabetes, since you are already at a greater risk for developing heart disease.
Insulin Resistance & Prediabetes
Not only is aloe vera a viable treatment partner for type 2 diabetes, it can also benefit those with prediabetes, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.
Randomized trials have shown improvements in body weight, body fat mass, and insulin resistance in obese people taking aloe.
In people with metabolic syndrome (prediabetes), taking aloe vera every day for four weeks was shown to reduce blood glucose levels, A1c and pro-inflammatory molecules throughout the body.
Another study found that aloe vera supplementation for 8 weeks resulted in lower body weight, body fat mass, fasting blood glucose, insulin levels, and reduced insulin resistance among prediabetics and type 2 diabetics not on medication.
There's even some evidence showing the potential of aloe vera supplementation over an 8-week period to revert the impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance that accompanies prediabetes/metabolic syndrome, essentially helping people get back to normal!
How to Take Aloe Vera
Now that you’re excited to try some aloe vera for yourself, here are a few tips on how to use it:
- Look for an aloe vera gel or juice that is 100% pure aloe and has been minimally processed.
- Follow the dosage instructions on the manufacturers label – for supplements and juice.
- Start at a small dose and increase slowly – aloe vera has a laxative effect so taking too much, too quickly can result in abdominal upset or diarrhea.
- If you’re currently taking diabetes medication, check with your doctor before trying aloe to avoid hypoglycemia and unwanted side effects.
- Remember to monitor your blood glucose levels closely – although you may be taking aloe vera to lower glucose levels, you still need to be aware of hypoglycemia with any substance that has a glucose-lowering effect.
- Make sure to pair your aloe vera supplement with a low carb diet for optimal results.
Before taking aloe vera, consult your doctor if you take the following medications:
- All diabetes-specific medications
- Sevoflurane (Ultane)
- Stimulant laxatives
- Warfarin (Coumadin)
- Diuretic medications (water pills)
Overview of Benefits of Aloe Vera for Diabetes
Aloe vera offers the potential of:
- Lower fasting blood glucose
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Reduced insulin
- Increased antioxidant status
- Lower body weight and fat mass
- Reduced insulin resistance
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