Updated June 08, 2015.
Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.
You may think of aloe gel as the goo that comes from the aloe plant that you smother over a minor cut. But it is also the form of aloe marketed as a complementary treatment for type 2 diabetes.
Aloe gel can be obtained by cutting off several inches of an aloe leaf and slitting the leaf lengthwise. It can also be purchased commercially, but it's important to note that the concentration of aloe in commercial products may vary.
This is because the federal government does not have guidelines that address many of the quality issues that relate to supplements.
If aloe gel is listed on the product label as the first or main ingredient, it will likely be close in concentration to fresh aloe gel.
Does Aloe Gel Work?
Although there are two small short-term (6-week) studies that show that aloe can decrease glucose, triglyceride, and hemoglobin A1c levels in individuals with diabetes, the body of research on its use just isn't strong enough to make a firm recommendation for use in treating the condition. Health experts do not recommend long-term internal use of aloe gel.
Since the use of aloe gel can lower the blood sugar too much when it is added to doctor-prescribed medication, it should not be used without your doctor's knowledge.
More About Aloe's Uses and Safety
How to UseIf you and your doctor do decide that aloe gel is something to try, you may mix it with milk, water or juice. Hispanic populations often prepare it in shakes or smoothies.
Dried aloe leaf juice is another form of aloe that is usually used as a laxative, not a treatment for diabetes.
This form of aloe can case abdominal cramps, intestinal irritation, and kidney inflammation. As with many laxatives, long-term use can result in dependency. Therefore, aloe leaf juice should not be used when you have diabetes.
A Word of WarningThere have been case reports of excessive bleeding associated with a history of aloe use and certain anesthetics. Because of this, aloe use should be discontinued 1 to 2 weeks prior to planned surgeries. Again, discuss this risk with your doctor.
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