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Aloe Vera Gel Lowered Fasting Blood Sugar

Aloe vera gel capsules and other natural products can help control blood sugar and may help people with type 2 diabetes.

Many people want to control their blood sugar with natural products. Fortunately, they have quite a few to choose from. However, herbs and spices that can lower blood sugar might interact with prescription drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes. Anyone taking a supplement such as aloe vera gel or chromium must monitor blood sugar closely.

This reader made an interesting and unexpected discovery:

Aloe Vera Gel Capsules Had Surprising Effect on Blood Sugar:

Q. I have started taking aloe vera gel capsules. My blood sugar has dropped from 220 down to 120. I think that’s something worth reporting. Have you ever heard of such a reaction?

A. Aloe vera gel can lower blood glucose. In one randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, aloe vera gel lowered blood sugar, HbA1C and cholesterol significantly (Planta Medica, March, 2012). HbA1c is a longer-term measure of blood sugar control, so this finding is encouraging.

A review of research demonstrates that aloe vera gel also helps lower blood fats in people with diabetes (Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, Oct-Dec. 2022). Since high triglycerides and LDL cholesterol contribute to bad outcomes, this approach is worth considering.

Anyone who wants to try this should stick with aloe vera gel capsules. The inner part of the leaves contain the gel. However, the leaves also contain a latex compound that is a powerful laxative. This may be found in some aloe vera juices and could cause severe diarrhea.

Other Natural Products That Lower Blood Sugar:

There are a number of other plant-based products that can be helpful in lowering blood sugar. Eating a diet that minimizes processed starches and sugars is the first place to start; then, one could consider aloe vera gel or a supplement such as one of these:

Bitter Melon:

One is bitter melon, Momordica charantia. This tropical plant is native to India and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine. As the name implies, it has a bitter flavor. Despite this, people in China, India and some parts of the Caribbean use it as both food and medicine. Researchers are considering potential drugs based on its active components for treating type 2 diabetes in the future (Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, April 21, 2015).

Chromium:

This essential mineral is needed in tiny quantities to maintain good health. Chromium picolinate supplements have been promoted to aid blood sugar control (approximately 200 micrograms/day). The research has been somewhat equivocal, but a recent small randomized study showed that chromium supplementation lowered blood sugar after meals and also reduced HbA1c (Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, Oct., 2015).

What do we know about chromium?

Q. I have read that chromium can help control blood sugar levels. When I asked my doctor about this dietary supplement, he said that he doesn’t know about chromium. What can you tell me?

A. Scientists have not studied chromium nearly as well as diabetes medications. Nonetheless, there is evidence that chromium supplementation can lower glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c). This is a measure of blood glucose levels over several weeks. But chromium does not appear to improve fasting blood glucose levels (Biological Trace Element Research, Feb. 2022).

A recent study of American adults found that those with low levels of chromium in their blood were more likely to have diabetes or cardiovascular disease (Nutrients, June 28, 2022). While this type of association can’t prove causation, it suggests we should be paying more attention to chromium.

Cinnamon:

This common kitchen spice has been recommended for improving blood sugar control in people with diabetes as well as those with pre-diabetes or high HbA1c.

A review concluded,

“Cinnamon has the potential to be a useful add-on therapy in the discipline of integrative medicine in managing type 2 diabetes” (Journal of Nutrition, Oct. 16, 2015).

The authors note, however, that Ceylon cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) would be a safer choice than Chinese or cassia cinnamon (Cinnamomum cassia) due to its lower level of coumarin. Over the long term, this component of Chinese cinnamon could harm the liver.

A recent four month trial found that young Ceylon cinnamon bark lowered fasting blood sugar and HbA1c (Cureus, Feb. 15, 2023). The researchers suggest that people with diabetes should take cinnamon along with their drugs rather than alone.

Fenugreek:

Most Americans know little if anything about fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum). People in the Middle East and India like to use this plant as a spice, and it has earned a reputation for blood sugar control. A recent three-year study of people with pre-diabetes found that those taking 5 grams of fenugreek powder twice a day before meals were four times less likely to develop diabetes than those who did not get fenugreek (Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders, Oct. 2, 2015). A previous randomized controlled trial had also shown that fenugreek seeds improved glucose metabolism and serum lipid profiles (International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 2014).

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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Citations
  • Huseini HF et al, "Anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hypercholesterolemic effects of Aloe vera leaf gel in hyperlipidemic type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial." Planta Medica, March 2012. DOI: 10.1055/s-0031-1280474
  • Deora N & Venkatraman K, "Aloe vera in diabetic dyslipidemia: Improving blood glucose and lipoprotein levels in pre-clinical and clinical studies." Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, Oct-Dec. 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaim.2022.100675
  • Yang B et al, "Design, synthesis and biological evaluation of novel peptide MC2 analogues from Momordica charantia as potential anti-diabetic agents." Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, April 21, 2015. DOI: 10.1039/c5ob00333d
  • Paiva AN et al, "Beneficial effects of oral chromium picolinate supplementation on glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes: A randomized clinical study." Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, Oct., 2015. DOI: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2015.05.006
  • Zhao F et al, "Effect of chromium supplementation on blood glucose and lipid levels in Patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis." Biological Trace Element Research, Feb. 2022. DOI: 10.1007/s12011-021-02693-3
  • Chen J et al, "Blood chromium levels and their association with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and depression: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2015-2016." Nutrients, June 28, 2022. DOI: 10.3390/nu14132687
  • Medagama AB, "The glycaemic outcomes of Cinnamon, a review of the experimental evidence and clinical trials." Journal of Nutrition, Oct. 16, 2015. DOI: 10.1186/s12937-015-0098-9
  • Mandal A et al, "Efficacy of young Cinnamomum zeylanicum Blume bark on hyperglycemia and PTPase Activity in type 2 diabetes." Cureus, Feb. 15, 2023. DOI: 10.7759/cureus.35023
  • Gaddam A et al, "Role of Fenugreek in the prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus in prediabetes." Journal of Diabetes and Metabolic Disorders, Oct. 2, 2015. DOI: 10.1186/s40200-015-0208-4
  • Rafraf M et al, "Effect of fenugreek seeds on serum metabolic factors and adiponectin levels in type 2 diabetic patients." International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 2014. DOI: 10.1024/0300-9831/a000206
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