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Aloe Vera Improves Glycemic Control

Adults with prediabetes assigned aloe vera supplements saw improvement in fasting plasma glucose, type 2 patients saw improvement in HbA1c.

Prediabetes is defined as impaired fasting glucose and/or impaired glucose tolerance. Individuals with prediabetes are at relatively high risk of developing diabetes in the future. The pathogenesis of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes involves insulin resistance and defective beta cell function in secreting insulin. More than half of type 2 diabetes patients are unable to control their blood glucose using available oral antihyperglycemic agents.

Aloe vera (Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f., Xanthorrhoeaceae family) has long been used in folk or traditional medicine for diabetes. Several studies have been conducted on the effect of aloe vera on glycemic control, but the results appear inconsistent. A systematic review and meta-analysis was undertaken to assess the effect of aloe vera on glycemic control in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Researchers analyzed eight randomized clinical trials involving 470 patients conducted through January 2016 comparing the effect of aloe vera vs. placebo (n = 6) or no treatment (n = 2) on glycemic control in prediabetes (n = 3) or type 2 diabetes (n = 5). Aloe vera preparations in each trial varied and included raw crushed aloe leaves, freshly extracted aloe vera juice, aloe vera gel powder and aloe vera extract. Duration of treatment ranged from 2 to 3 months; most studies were conducted in Iran.

Researchers estimated treatment effect with the mean difference in the final value of FPG and HbA1c between the treatment and the control groups.

Researchers found that aloe vera reduced FPG in patients with prediabetes (mean difference, –0.22 mmol/L; 95% CI, –0.32 to –0.12); aloe vera marginally improved FPG in patients with type 2 diabetes (mean difference, –1.17 mmol/L; 95% CI, –2.35 to 0).

Participants with type 2 diabetes saw a reduction in HbA1c after aloe vera supplementation (mean difference, –11 mmol/mol; 95% CI, –19 to –2); there was no effect on HbA1c in patients with prediabetes, according to researchers.

“The current evidence suggests a possible effect of aloe vera on glycemic control in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes,” the researchers wrote.

A comprehensive literature search was conducted through to the end of January 2016.  Historical search of relevant articles and personal contact with experts in the area were also undertaken. Studies were included if they were (1) randomized controlled trials of Aloe vera aimed at assessing glycemic control in prediabetes or type 2 diabetes and  reporting fasting plasma glucose (FPG) or hemoglobin A1C (HbA1C). Treatment effect was estimated with mean difference in the final value of FPG and HbA1C between the treatment and the control groups.

The current evidence suggests a possible effect of aloe vera on glycemic control in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. However, given the poor quality of the limited evidence available, and the considerable heterogeneity 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. Long-term benefit and safety remains to be determined.

Practice Pearls:

  • Current evidence suggests a possible effect of aloe vera on glycemic control in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
  • Long-term benefits and safety issues have not yet been determined.
  • Well-designed, well-powered randomized controlled trials using standardized preparations are needed to better quantify any beneficial effects and their clinical relevance.

Researched and prepared by Steve Freed, BPharm, Diabetes Educator, Publisher and reviewed by Dave Joffe, BSPharm, CDE
Suksomboon N, et al. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2016;doi:10.1111/jcpt.12382. March 29, 2016 References