23.6 million people struggle with diabetes in the United States. Diabetes is the fifth-leading cause of death and an underlying factor behind serious complications like heart disease, stroke, obesity and cancer. Aside from these life-threatening diseases, diabetes also contributes to a decline in one’s quality of life, sometimes leading to blindness and other vision problems, mouth and gum disease and impaired circulation and mobility.
There are two types of diabetes—Type 1, affecting children and young adults, and the more common Type 2, impacting millions of Americans. Diabetes occurs when the cells ignore or do not produce enough insulin, a hormone necessary to convert sugar into energy. When this happens, glucose begins to build up in the blood, instead of traveling to the cells where it is converted to fuel for daily living. These elevated blood sugar levels lead to oxidative stress, which adversely affects the immune system and decreases the body’s antioxidant defenses.
Typically, a diabetes diagnosis requires a lifestyle change, one focused on healthy eating and exercise. An increase of preclinical and clinical research has also examined the use of alternative options, like aloe vera gel, in the treatment of this disease. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, early studies indicate that aloe vera gel can reduce blood sugar levels in women with Type 2 diabetes.
When battling diabetes, it is imperative to control blood sugar levels and alleviate oxidative stress, responsible for many complications like heart disease. Patients also tend to have low levels of antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E. Oral treatment with aloe vera gel has been shown to aid in the normalization of blood sugar and to stimulate the body’s own antioxidant defenses, enhancing the impact of these vitamins.
Support for this assertion may be found in a number of studies. One such study out of Thailand found a positive relief on oxidative stress with patients taking aloe vera gel, with the normal intake being one to two ounces twice a day. Another animal study reported that the aloe-treated group reduced blood glucose levels and triglycerides. As detailed on the website diabetes-guide.org, “A new 5 year study done in India on 5,000 patients found that patients who took aloe [vera] had a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar levels.”
Aloe vera gel is a recognized treatment for skin and stomach ailments, and is becoming more regarded as studies link the plant to immune-boosting and antioxidant-rich properties. “The abundance of research supports a role for aloe vera supplementation in the management of Type 2 diabetes”, said scientist Ken Jones in his “Dietary Aloe vera supplementation & glycemic control in diabetes”. Aloe vera is not a replacement for medically prescribed diabetes treatments and patients should always consult with a healthcare professional.
It should be noted that not all aloe vera gel drinks are created equally. There are many aloe vera drinks available that contain sugar and other fruit juices which are contraindicated in patients with diabetes. These types of drinks should be avoided. When seeking an aloe vera gel supplement for helping with diabetes, 100% pure aloe vera gel nothing added or right from the leaf is the safest option.
American Diabetes Association. www.diabetes.org.
Ken Jones “Dietary Aloe vera supplementation & glycemic control in diabetes”. Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients. FindArticles.com. 13 Oct, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0ISW/is_286/ai_n19170429/
Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Health Statistics. National Health Interview Survey. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm. Accessed January 26, 2007.
Rajasekaran, S, Sivagnanam K, Subramanian S. Modulatory effects of aloe vera leaf gel extract on oxidative stress in rats treated with streptozotocin. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 2005;31:241-246.
Singh RP Dhanalakshmi S, Rao AR. Chemomodulatory action of aloe vera on the profiles of enzymes associated with carcinogen metabolism and antioxidant status regulation in mice. Phytomedicine. 2000: 7:209-219.