Supplementation with aloe vera may help improve HbA1c levels (a measure of glucose control over the previous 2–3 months) in people with Type 2 diabetes and reduce fasting plasma glucose levels in those with prediabetes, according to a new study from Thailand. Approximately 29 million people in the United States are living with Type 2 diabetes, and another 86 million have prediabetes.
Aloe vera is a type of succulent plant that has been used as an herbal medicine for thousands of years and is currently incorporated into a multitude of personal care products. Previous studies have yielded mixed results on whether the plant is useful for diabetes control.
To evaluate the effects of aloe vera on blood sugar levels, the researchers conducted a meta-analysis (an analysis of data from several studies) of eight randomized clinical trials including a total of 470 people with Type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. The trials compared the effects on blood sugar of aloe vera versus placebo (inactive treatment) or no treatment. The forms of aloe vera used varied from trial to trial and included aloe vera extract, raw crushed aloe leaves, aloe vera gel powder, and freshly extracted aloe vera juice.
The researchers estimated the effect of the aloe vera using the average difference in the final HbA1c and fasting plasma glucose values between the treatment and control groups. They found that, in people with Type 2 diabetes, supplementation reduced HbA1c and slightly lowered fasting plasma glucose levels. In those with prediabetes, aloe vera did not decrease HbA1c, but did reduce fasting plasma glucose levels.
“The current evidence suggests a possible effect of aloe vera on glycemic control in prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes,” the researchers note. “However,” they add, “given the poor quality of the limited evidence available, and the considerable [differences] seen in the study results, well-designed, well-powered, randomized controlled trials using standardized preparations are needed to better quantify any beneficial effects and their clinical relevance.”
For more information, read the article “Aloe vera may improve glycemic control in prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes” or see the study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. And to learn about other approaches to lower blood sugar naturally, read “Leaves and Fruits for Diabetes,” by nurse David Spero.
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Diane Fennell: Diane Fennell has been an editor at Diabetes Self-Management magazine since 2003. She is currently the Editorial Director. (Diane Fennell is not a medical professional.)
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