Oral supplementation with aloe vera may have beneficial effects on blood sugar control in people with diabetes and should be further investigated as a possible treatment, according to new research from the David Grant USAF Medical Center. An estimated 29.1 million people in the United States are currently living with diabetes, and another 86 million have prediabetes and are at increased risk of the condition.
Aloe vera, a type of succulent plant native to northern Africa but now found in many places throughout the world, has been used as an herbal medicine for thousands of years and is currently used in a wide variety of personal care products. Studies to date have yielded mixed results on whether it is useful for blood sugar control.
To determine the effects of oral aloe vera consumption on fasting blood sugar and HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar control over the previous 2–3 months), researchers conducted a meta-analysis (analysis of data from several clinical trials) of nine trials. Effects of the plant on fasting blood sugar were measured in a total of 283 participants, and effects on HbA1c were measured in 89 participants.
The investigators found that aloe vera supplementation was associated with an average fasting blood sugar reduction of 46.6 mg/dl and an average HbA1c decrease of 1.05%. In people with fasting blood sugar levels of at least 200 mg/dl, the average reduction was 109.9 mg/dl.
“Because less than half of patients with Type 2 diabetes have their disease well controlled…additional investigation into the use of oral aloe vera as antidiabetic compound is needed,” note the researchers. “These results support the using of aloe vera for significantly reducing [fasting blood sugar] and HbA1c.”
Limitations of the data include the short durations of the trials included in the analysis, differences in how the aloe vera was compared to other treatments in the studies, and the different forms of aloe vera used across the studies.
“Further clinical studies that are more robust and better controlled are warranted to further explore these findings,” the study authors suggest.
For more information, read the article “Aloe Vera Should Be Investigated As Diabetes Treatment, Study Says” or see the study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. And for more on other natural approaches that may help lower blood sugar, see “Cinnamon and Diabetes: An Update,” “Bitter Melon Diabetes News,” and “Vinegar for Diabetes? Yes!”
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