Diabetes, medically termed as diabetes mellitus, is a disease that occurs due to high levels of glucose or sugar in the blood.
The insulin hormone is made in the pancreas and is responsible for absorbing glucose from the food into the cells which can be used for energy.
However, sometimes the body fails to produce enough insulin and therefore glucose stays in the blood instead of getting absorbed into the cells.
The increase in glucose levels manifests in the form of diabetes.
Diabetes is classified into three types: Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and gestational diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes develops when the immune system destroys pancreatic cells that synthesize insulin hormone.
Thus, the body cannot make insulin and the patient needs to intake insulin every day.
Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed most commonly in children and younger adults, although it can appear at any age.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common type and occurs when the body cannot make insulin or cannot utilize insulin well.
It can occur at any age. Gestational diabetes develops in women during pregnancy and gets transferred to the baby after birth.
Diabetes affects people worldwide, and no cure has been found yet for this medical condition, however, but one can take appropriate steps like bringing about changes in the lifestyle such as regular exercise and eating healthy to either prevent it from developing or prevent its further progression.
Aloe vera has been found to benefit from diabetes and restrict its progression. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and wound healing properties among other play an important role in the cure for diabetes.
What is Aloe Vera?
Aloe Vera has been historically used in traditional treatment methods and is well known for its effective therapeutic properties.
It is also known as the wonder plant due to the various beneficial properties it contributes to the wellbeing of mankind.
Numerous research studies have found Aloe Vera to be effective in preventing diabetes.
The active constituents present in Aloe Vera also help in alleviating various symptoms associated with this medical condition.
7 Benefits of Aloe Vera For Diabetes
Aloe vera can help with diabetes in several ways. It helps to maintain sugar and cholesterol levels in the body. Aloe helps in wound healing of ulcers and has good anti-inflammatory properties. It strengthens anti-oxidation defences and helps reduce insulin resistance.
These benefits are discussed in detail below -
1. It maintains blood sugar levels.
High blood sugar levels are a major concern in diabetic patients and an underlying cause of many other complications.
According to a study published in Phytomedicine in 1996, aloe vera was observed to be effective in the treatment of diabetes when administered along with with glibenclamide, an anti-diabetic drug.
Results showed that the combination significantly reduced the blood glucose levels within a period of two weeks.
Another study published in the same journal examined the anti-diabetic effects of aloe vera when patients who have diabetes were treated with one tablespoon of aloe vera juice twice a day for two weeks.
Results showed that aloe vera significantly reduces blood sugar levels along with triglyceride levels.
A study conducted by Yagi et al. in 2009 demonstrated that aloe vera fractions were found to reduce levels of blood sugar in patients who have diabetes within a period of 6 weeks.
What does this mean? Several studies confirm that aloe vera exerts anti-diabetic effects by reducing blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. It can be used for the treatment of diabetes due to its high efficacy.
2. It reduces cholesterol levels
In various cases of diabetes, it has been observed that this metabolic condition often leads to reduced levels of good cholesterol and raises levels of bad cholesterol in the blood.
This manifests further complications in diabetes.
A recent study published in Nutrients described the efficacy of aloe vera on treating diabetes.
According to the reports, clinical trials carried out on 417 prediabetic patients showed that aloe vera effectively reduced levels of bad cholesterol in the blood along with triglyceride and fasting blood glucose levels.
Aloe vera was successful in increasing good cholesterol levels too.
Another study conducted to examine the effects of aloe vera supplementation in diabetes revealed that aloe vera gel powder significantly reduces levels of low-density cholesterol i.e. bad cholesterol when consumed by prediabetic patients for a span of 8 weeks.
What does this mean? Aloe vera regulates cholesterol levels in the blood and can prevent risks to heart disease and diabetic dyslipidemia in diabetic patients or those who prone to acquiring diabetes.
3. It initiates wound healing in leg and foot ulcers
Since diabetes presents with many other medical complications, one such complication is the occurrence of leg and foot ulcers when diabetes is poorly controlled.
Foot ulcers often result due to high sugar levels in the blood.
They are highly painful, and the only way out in worse conditions is amputation of the affected area. Thus it is best to prevent a foot ulcer by keeping a check on your sugar levels and eating habits.
As mentioned earlier, including aloe Vera in the daily diet can reduce blood sugar levels.
The pain and inflammation can be reduced by the application of aloe vera on the affected area. It has effective wound healing properties.
Aloe Vera gel has found to be an effective treatment for wound healing and chronic ulcers.
According to a study conducted on a patient with chronic ulcers, topical application of aloe veragel on the affected area showed significant healing within a span of 3 months.
Another study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in 1998 demonstrated that aloe Vera healed wounds in an animal model of diabetes.
According to the study, this property of Aloe Vera influences its ability to regulate inflammation, collagen synthesis, production of fibrous tissue and contraction.
What does this mean? Aloe vera has effective wound healing benefits that can alleviate pain and inflammation in the foot and leg ulcers. Its ability to reduce blood sugar levels on a daily consumption can further prevent the occurrence of these ulcers.
4. It has anti-inflammatory properties
Inflammation of the blood vessels in diabetes is often induced as a result of insulin resistance.
The consumption of anti-inflammatory agents like aloe vera can alleviate inflammation in this condition.
Gibberellin (a plant growth hormone) is an active ingredient found in aloe vera. It is known to possess anti-inflammatory properties.
According to a study conducted to determine the anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera in an animal model of diabetes, gibberellin found in aloe vera significantly reduces infiltration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (inflammatory molecules) thereby inhibiting inflammation.
Results of the study showed that gibberellin reduced inflammation at sites of wound injury resulting in faster wound healing.
Research studies report that Aloe Vera demonstrates its anti-inflammatory action by inhibiting pathways involved in the production of inflammatory molecules like production cyclooxygenase and prostaglandins.
What does this mean? Aloe Vera has important anti-inflammatory properties essential in controlling inflammation in diabetes. It regulates pathways inducing adverse inflammation. Gibberellin, an active component of Aloe Vera has been found to exert anti-inflammatory potential that proves to be very beneficial.
5. It has anti-oxidant defenses
Oxidative stress is a common complication observed in diabetic patients. Chronic oxidative stress increases risks of strokes, damage to the nervous system and kidneys and loss of vision.
A study published in the Pharmacological reports in 2005 reported that oral consumption of alcoholic extracts of Aloe Vera gel reduced the peroxidation of lipids relieving oxidative stress in an animal model of diabetes.
Aloe Vera extracts significantly reduced levels of oxidative enzymes in the liver and kidney confirming its ability to be used as an anti-oxidant agent in alleviating oxidative stress in diabetes.
Another study confirmed the anti-oxidative effects of aloe vera on animal models.
Ethanolic extracts of aloe vera were found to reduce levels of free radicals and oxidative enzymes that are responsible for causing increased lipid peroxidation and thereby oxidative stress.
An experimental study conducted by Abo-Youssef et al. in 2013 on an animal model of diabetes depicted that aloe vera reduced levels of superoxide dismutase ( an enzyme that causes oxidation of superoxides) and increased blood glutathione levels improving the adverse oxidative stress depicting its anti-oxidative properties.
What does this mean? Aloe vera has anti-oxidative potential that can prevent oxidative stress in diabetes by inhibiting the action of oxidative enzymes and increasing levels of glutathione in the blood which is an important antioxidant.
6. It reduces insulin resistance
Obesity which is an underlying cause of diabetes often leads to insulin resistance in the body.
A study conducted by Shin et al. in 2012, examined the effects of an aloe vera gel complex, also called as the Aloe QDM complex in scientific terms.
Results of the study showed that the aloe vera complex improved insulin sensitivity by regulating an enzyme, AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in the muscles.
The anti-inflammatory property of aloe vera has found to be effective in improving insulin resistance.
According to a study conducted by Shin et al. in 2011, Aloe Vera reduces levels of proinflammatory cytokines thereby improving the resistance of peripheral tissues to the action of insulin.
What does this mean? Aloe vera can improve insulin resistance in diabetic patients and more likely in patients who are obese.
7. It prevents obesity
Triglycerides aid in the storage of fats that serve as an energy reserve for the body. However high levels of triglycerides are often observed in obese patients might increase their risk to heart diseases.
A study conducted clinical trials on diabetic patients consuming oral hypoglycemic medications, to examine hypoglycemic effects of Aloe Vera demonstrated that aloe Vera administration significantly reduces triglyceride levels in patients who have diabetes.
These positive results were obtained four weeks after treatment, and its consumption was continued even after the studies.
A study suggested that aloe vera administered in an animal model of diabetes significantly reduced adiponectin levels (adiponectin is a hormone that is secreted by the adipose tissue and varies inversely with body mass index).
The study thus concluded that Aloe Vera exerts an anti-obesity effect by regulating the expression of genes associated with obesity.
What does this mean? Aloe Vera exhibits anti-obesity effect. It regulates genes related to obesity and reduces high levels of triglycerides in diabetic patients.
For treating diabetes, its symptoms and adverse effects, aloe vera can be both consumed and topically applied. It is easily available in the local market in the form of supplements and included in various cosmetic products.
It can be grown as a houseplant.
For efficient wound healing and relieffrom pain and inflammation, aloe vera gel can be topically applied.
Scrape the Aloe Vera gel off the leaf and apply it directly on the affected joints or skin to relieve pain and inflammation.
This gel can be applied to the affected area up to 3 times a day until the wound is healed. To make it more convenient, you can make the gel at home and store it in the refrigerator to ensure its daily use.
The gel will retain its properties for up to 4-5 days this way.
Aloe Vera gel can be consumed in the form of juice to alleviate diabetic symptoms like high sugar and blood glucose levels and reduce inflammation.
This is because aloe vera gel contains plant sterols which are known to exhibit similar effects as those shown by steroidal drugs on inflammation.
Consult a health practitioner for the recommended dosage as it may vary from person to person depending upon the extent of the condition.
Since there is no specific recommended dosage, it is best to consult a doctor before using any form of aloe vera whether in the form of juice, creams or capsules to avoid any allergic reactions.
30 ml of aloe vera juice, taken plain or with water and juices, twice a day is recommended.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women and children are not advised to consume aloe vera in any form.
In case you are suffering from any medical conditions like cancer or bleeding disorders, please consult a health practitioner before taking aloe vera.
If you wish to opt for aloe vera supplements, consult a health practitioner before opting for its consumption.
Aloe vera may have certain side effects that can vary from person to person.
Some general side effects include redness, burning, stinging sensation and in rare cases even dermatitis if it does not suit your skin on when topically applied.
Allergic reactions are mainly caused due to the presence of anthraquinone derivatives (organic compounds found in the plant) in Aloe Vera.
A small patch test is recommended if you are planning to apply it for wound healing.
Aloe vera juice has been known to cause side effects like diarrhea, abdominal cramps, constipation and hepatitis if taken in high doses.
It can considerably lower the blood glucose levels if consumed in high amounts and may interact with drugs.
Its intake for a longer duration can increase the risk of colorectal cancer and the laxative present in it can cause electrolyte imbalance.
Pregnant women should avoid intake of aloe vera as it may cause uterine contractions and in breastfeeding women, it can lead to gastrointestinal problems in the infant.
Since aloe vera may interact with drugs, maintain a 3-4 hour gap between the medications and Aloe Vera consumption.
However, it is recommended that those on medications or suffering from any medical conditions must consult a doctor before consumption of Aloe vera on a daily basis.
Aloe Vera seems to be a miracle plant for treating diabetes due to its various beneficial properties.
It is a natural remedy hence it is quite safe for consumption compared to the numerous side effects suffered by the consumption of antibiotics by diabetic patients.
It is a great idea to include Aloe Vera in your diet, with due precautions, to make it healthier and see positive results.