Aloe vera may hold some benefit in improving glycemic control in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, according to a a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics

Aloe vera has been utilized in folk or traditional treatment for diabetes for a long time. A possible mechanism of action may be an attenuated absorption of glucose in the GI tract after food consumption. Previous studies evaluating the effect of aloe vera on glycemic control have reported inconsistent results. 

Study authors conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to study the effect of aloe vera on glycemic control in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. They performed a literature search to the end of January 2016 and a historical search of relevant articles and personal contact with field experts. Studies included for the analysis were randomized controlled trials of aloe vera evaluated for glycemic control in prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, and trials reporting fasting plasma glucose (FPG) or HbA1c. FPG was set as the primary outcome since it was reported in all of the included studies; HbA1c was not universally reported.

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Eight trials (n=470) were identified for the analysis. The data indicated aloe vera significantly improved FPG (mean difference –0.22mmol/L, 95% CI: –0.32mmol/L to –0.12mmol/L; P<0.0001) in prediabetes but no effect on HbA1c was noted (mean difference –2mmol/mol, 95% CI: –5mmol/mol to 1mmol/mol)).  In type 2 diabetes, aloe vera showed significant improvement in HBA1c (mean difference –11mmol/mol, 95% CI: –19mmol/mol to –2mmol/mol, P=0.01) but only marginal improvement in FPG (mean difference –1.17mmol/L, 95% CI: –2.35mmol/L to 0.00mmol/L, P=0.05).

Study author, N. Suksomboon, PhD, from Mahidol University, in Bangkok, Thailand, concluded that a potential benefit exists with aloe vera for the improvement of glycemic control in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes. Due to the studies’ limitations and high heterogeneity of the results, more high-quality and well-powered randomized controlled studies with standardized preparations are necessary to better assess the benefits of aloe vera on glycemic control.

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