When the term “aloe vera” is mentioned, many thoughts may come to mind. It’s the plant that individuals have turned to for thousands of years for various reasons. Cleopatra, for example, used aloe vera as part of her beauty regimen, Christopher Columbus used it to treat wounds, and people in America used it in the early 1800s as a laxative.
Today, many people turn to aloe vera to treat sunburn and other minor burns, scrapes, bruises, and cuts. Aloe vera plants are commonplace on kitchen windowsills and in home gardens. But have you ever thought about using aloe vera for blood sugar management? Yes, it’s been shown to improve blood glucose levels.
What is aloe vera?
Aloe vera is a succulent that is native to dry areas of America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. It’s composed of fleshy leaves, yellow flowers, and fruits with seeds. The leaves are made of three layers.
- The outer thick layer is the rind, which protects the plant and makes proteins and carbohydrates.
- The inner clear gel is 99 percent water and 1 percent beneficial substances.
- A middle layer is composed of latex that contains glycosides and anthraquinones, which have laxative effects.
Aloe vera contains about 75 potentially active ingredients, including vitamins, sugars, lignin, saponins, salicylic acids, amino acids (20 of the 22 required amino acids), enzymes, and minerals.
In addition to using the inner gel of the plant directly on the skin, aloe vera is used in many different products, such as creams and lotions for topical use, as well as aloe vera juice for internal conditions such as indigestion, heartburn, and other digestive issues.
Aloe vera and blood glucose levels: studies
Another potential use for aloe vera juice is to help improve blood glucose (sugar) levels. In a 1999 study, researchers indicated that oral aloe vera “might be a useful adjunct for lowering blood glucose in diabetic patients.” Since then, experts have continued to explore aloe vera's use in managing blood glucose and diabetes. Thus far, some of their findings include the following:
- In a study involving 90 individuals with non-insulin-dependent diabetes, the participants were given either no treatment (controls), 100 mg of aloe vera gel powder, or 200 mg of the powder daily for 3 months. The authors noted a significant drop in fasting blood glucose levels and post-prandial glucose levels in the groups that received aloe vera but not in the controls. The participants in the aloe vera groups also saw a significant reduction in total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and a significant increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Blood pressure declined significantly in the aloe vera groups but only slightly in the controls.
- In a 2013 animal study, aloe vera extract was administered to diabetic rats. The extract significantly reduced glucose levels while also significantly increasing serum insulin levels.
- In a systemic review and meta-analysis that involved eight trials (470 patients) with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, the researchers found that the use of aloe vera significantly improved fasting plasma glucose levels in people with prediabetes. For those with type 2 diabetes, aloe vera may improve glycemic control and significantly improve hemoglobin A1c levels.
- A 2022 study looked at the impact of aloe vera on dyslipidemia (elevated triglycerides, decreased high-density lipoprotein [good] cholesterol, elevated small dense low-density lipoprotein [bad] cholesterol) in individuals with type 2 diabetes. The authors noted that oral aloe vera may help improve blood glucose stability and the metabolism of lipids.
The positive effects of aloe vera may be associated with the presence of various compounds. They include:
- Anthraquinones have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Acetylated mannan, also known as acemannan, which has anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Aloe vera carbohydrate-rich fraction has been shown to regulate glucose metabolism in diabetic rats. In a 2021 study, the authors reported that the carbohydrate fraction of aloe vera improved glucose metabolism and helped maintain glucose homeostasis. They concluded that aloe vera carbohydrate-rich fraction “can be used as an alternative medicine to alleviate diabetes mellitus symptoms.”
- Glucomannan is a type of dietary fiber that may help lower blood glucose levels.
Using aloe vera
You can use aloe vera juice, gel, or supplements for blood sugar management. Choose an organic aloe vera product. A typical dose of aloe vera juice is one to three tablespoons daily.
Aloe vera is a natural supplement that may be used to help with blood glucose management in prediabetes and diabetes. However, consult a knowledgeable professional before using aloe vera because it may lower your blood glucose too much, especially if you already take diabetic medication.
[Editor's Note: Lily of the Desert grows and harvests aloe vera plants in the United States to provide a full line of aloe vera juices to choose from. Learn more at Lilyofthedesert.com.]