Monday, October 4, 2010

Aloe as a Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes

If you live in much of the English-speaking world, you are probably familiar with aloe as a houseplant that oozes a sap that can be used to treat cuts, scrapes, and burns. If you live in the Dutch- and German-speaking world, you are probably familiar with aloe as a laxative. And if you live in India, you may know aloe as a vegetable that helps type 2 diabetics lower blood sugar levels.

Much of the research into anti-diabetes herbs and anti-diabetes foods in India has been aimed at offering a treatment for diabetics who literally would have nothing else. The studies of aloe for type 2 diabetes in India have focused on eating boiled aloe along with the rice, bread, and lentils that are served at every meal.

The results of eating aloe as a vegetable are less than spectacular, but they do usually get blood sugar levels into the 150-175 mg/dl range. That's not "good control," but it's a lot better than having blood sugar levels of 250-400 mg/dl. The plant contains anti-inflammatory compounds and seems to stimulate the release of insulin by "unzipping" the insulin that is already made and stored in the pancreas faster after meals.

If you are on medication, and you are able to find or raise aloe to eat, or if you drink a daily shot of aloe juice, you are not likely to notice much of a difference. It will not cause you to "fall out" from hypoglycemia. It's best, however, to focus on other methods of blood sugar control unless you find yourself in an unusual situation.

Selected Reference:

Davis R.H., Maro N.P. Aloe vera and gibberellins, Anti-inflammatory activity in diabetes. J. Am. Pediat. Med. Assoc. 1989;79:24–26.

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