This post was written by Gillian D., who is working towards a degree in counseling but has always been interested in a criminalist education. She strongly believes in naturopathic medicine.
People have used aloe vera for centuries. Its most common use is as a topical relief and healing agent for burns. Scientists who have studied the plant assume that it is due to the high Vitamin E content, which promotes healthy cell growth. Anyone who has slathered on aloe gel after a bad sunburn knows that it doesn’t matter what is in this miracle cream, it makes the burning stop and helps prevent peeling and scarring.
Other cultures have also discovered that aloe vera boosts your immune system, too. Incorporating the leaves into food (in small doses, this plant is extremely bitter) appears to prevent common colds, asthma attacks, even STD flare-ups. Scientists have also found that multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and arthritis patients also respond do dietary aloe vera.
Studies have been somewhat conflicting, and of course, mainstream medicine prefers to recommend drugs made in laboratories to their patients. However, new evidence is emerging that the drug companies cannot ignore. Aloe vera pills appear to also help stabilize blood glucose levels in patients with diabetes mellitus (American Journal of Health).
Diabetes mellitus, also known as Type I or juvenile diabetes, is highly manageable but still a feared diagnosis. Type I diabetes is a type of autoimmune disease, where the pancreas destroys its insulin producing cells. Insulin is a hormone that controls blood sugar levels, and without it blood sugar levels can spike dangerously, resulting in diabetic comas and death if untreated.
Historically, juvenile diabetes would strike young children, and until synthetic insulin was developed, it was basically a death sentence. Before modern medicine could treat diabetes, parents would turn to herbal remedies, like aloe vera. Now those forgotten herbal remedies are gaining prominence once again.
This article in the American Journal of Health reported the effects of aloe vera use in diabetes patients from studies across the world – from Turkey to Germany. It appears that patients taking an oral dose of aloe vera had lower blood glucose levels than patients taking a placebo.
Scientists are still not sure what it is in aloe vera that has these health effects. Chemical analysis of the plant showed that aloe vera is chock full of amino acids, enzymes, organic compounds, and other important minerals – but insulin was not on the list. Scientists of course prefer to test one compound at a time, but who knows what combination of plant materials are actually producing the effect? (British Journal of General Practice)
Obviously, more research into these effects is necessary. However, it is still excellent news for diabetes sufferers. Of course, you should not stop your insulin regimen and switch over to aloe vera pills, but any improvement in diabetes treatment is a huge step. Being able to use a natural supplement is not only better for your body, but better for the environment as well.
If you have diabetes, let your doctor know you’re interested in trying an aloe vera supplement. Check out what your local supplement store has available for aloe pills, or try out some recipes with fresh aloe. Beware – “bitter as aloes” is not just an old saying, it is very true. You may want to hide the bitter taste of this plant in a smoothie or other sweetened drink. Aloe vera is one of the only plant sources of Vitamin B12, so it can’t hurt to supplement your diet with this amazing plant, even if you are in perfect health.