Aloe vera and its products are famous in the field of cosmetology.
But there is more to it.
Aloe vera is one of the oldest panaceas known to mankind. Commonly we refer to this plant as Aloe vera but depending on the species the name differs such as Aloe Arborescence Miller, Aloe Ferox etc.
Aloe vera plant consists of 3 layers: inner clear gel, middle latex and outer thick rind.
Each layer contains different compounds which exhibit various therapeutic properties. It is rich in vitamins, enzymes, minerals and sugars.
Aloe species contain anthraquinones which act as laxatives. Aloin and emodin are two of its active constituents which display anti-microbial and analgesic activity. The sugars present in Aloe plant have gastroprotective property.
How aloe vera battles obesity?
Aloe vera helps in losing weight either by directly cutting down fats or indirectly by improving metabolic parameters such as glucose, insulin and cholesterol levels.
Let’s see what research has to say about all this.
1. Aloe vera phytosterols are anti-obesity agents
Phytosterols are compounds similar to cholesterol but derived from plants. Aloe phytosterols are bioactive compounds of the aloe plant which exhibit pharmacological properties.
It has been proved that they act against obesity and related diseases by modulating glucose and lipid (fat like compounds present in the blood) metabolism.
They reduce cholesterol and other blood lipids and they lower the activity of genes and enzymes that facilitate deposition and formation of fats and glucose.
Another study also proves that these phytosterols reduce visceral fat, elevated glucose and blood lipid levels.
The other mechanism by which aloe phytosterols curb fats is by modulating activity of PPAR(peroxisome proliferator activated receptors).
PPARs are a group of proteins that play an essential role in metabolism of carbohydrates, lipids and protein. They also improve metabolism of fats in the liver thus making them unavailable for accumulation.
What does it mean?Phytosterols are cholesterol like compounds found in plants. Aloe vera phytosterols stimulate metabolism of glucose and fats, thus preventing fat deposition.
2. Aloe extract burns fats
The effect of a complex formulated from aloe vera gel on individuals who face the risk of developing diabetes has been studied.
4 weeks of treatment with aloe vera gel complex showed improvement in insulin levels while at 8 weeks decrease in body weight, body fat and blood sugar levels was observed.
Researchers concluded that aloe vera gel complex can be useful in treating obese individuals with prediabetes or early stages of diabetes and this is accompanied with weight loss.
Aloe vera gel powder is proven to reduce body fat significantly by stimulating metabolism in an animal model.
This study claims that aloe vera gel powder can protect against diet induced obesity.
Dietary aloe formula suppresses inflammation in obesity model and also reduces body fat by activation of AMPK.
AMP-activated protein kinase is an enzyme that supports breakdown of fats and prevents formation of cholesterol and deposition of fat. This property of aloe vera prevents formation of fat tissue.
A study focussed on the effect of aloe complex on an animal model of obesity lists the different ways by which aloe vera combats obesity :
- Reduction in body fat which leads to lowered body weight
- Balanced blood glucose and insulin levels
- Reduced leptin levels (hormone that promotes satiety; obese individuals are leptin resistant)
- Increased adiponectin levels (protein that supports breakdown of fats and regulates glucose levels)
- Suppressing PPAR
- Activating AMPK
These different modes of action make aloe vera a therapeutic agent not only for obesity but also for diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
Aloe vera gel extract exerts anti-hyperlipidemic effect- it lowers fats present in blood and cholesterol.
What does it mean? Aloe vera gel extract favors weight loss and reduces cholesterol levels by impacting genes and enzymes involved in fat metabolism and deposition.
3. It controls blood sugar thus preventing weight gain
Obesity and blood glucose levels are interlinked. Increase in BMI, abnormalities in leptin levels lead to hyperglycemia or increased blood sugar.
These parameters improve with loss of body weight. Also control of post meal blood sugar enhances appetite control.
The hypoglycaemic effect of aloe vera is comparable to that of metformin (oral antidiabetic drug; metformin and glibenclamide are the only two oral antidiabetic drugs approved by WHO).
Five phytosterols isolated from aloe vera gel, namely lophenol, 24-methyl-lophenol, 24-ethyl-lophenol, cycloartanol, and 24-methylene-cycloartanol, are found to be anti-diabetic agents.
This is mainly due to the fact that they exert long term control on blood glucose levels.
Pulp of aloe vera leaves demonstrates hypoglycaemic (lowering blood glucose) property in diabetes.
Aloe vera extract maintains balanced blood glucose levels by influencing the activity of carbohydrate metabolizing enzymes.
Research proves that processed aloe vera gel reduces fat tissue by lowering blood glucose and blood lipids in an animal model of non insulin dependent diabetes.
What does it mean? Aloe vera has blood glucose lowering property. This is essential for treating diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome.
4. It improves insulin activity and enables breakdown of glucose
Insulin resistance is failure of the body to produce adequate insulin leading to delayed uptake of glucose. It is a common feature in diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension and even in obesity.
Aloe vera gel helps in improving insulin resistance.
Dietary aloe formula reduces obesity linked hyperglycemia (excess blood sugar) and inflammation by modulating insulin resistance. Research suggests that this attribute of aloe vera can be useful in treating diabetes and obesity.
5. It improves impaired antioxidant status seen in obese individuals
Oxidative stress (imbalance between prooxidant and antioxidant agents) is said to be the link between obesity and other impaired metabolic parameters such as high blood sugar or high blood pressure.
Improved antioxidant status leads to better weight loss results.
It is found to be more effective than glibenclamide (oral antidiabetic drug).
This improvement in antioxidant status positively affects liver functioning and is proven to reduce cholesterol levels by 30% in animal model.
Dried pulp of aloe leaves exerts anti-hyperlipidemic effect by improving concentration of antioxidant enzymes and reducing oxidative stress in the liver.
What does it mean? Aloe vera exerts antioxidant properties which improves overall health and helps in reducing body weight and cholesterol levels.
Other health benefits of Aloe vera
Apart from helping in weight loss, Aloe vera has a number of other health benefits to offer :
- It has wound healing properties.
- It helps reduce skin tan and protects skin from harmful UV radiation.
- Aloe displays anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anti-tumor activities.
- It has laxative effects.
- It stimulates immune system.
- Aloe vera gel has anti-aging property.
How to take aloe vera for weight loss?
Aloe vera juice can be made by grinding the leaves and filtering the extract. Add honey to taste or add it to other fruit juices or to lemonade to counteract its bitter taste.
Limit consumption to quarter cup of aloe juice (10-20 ml) or 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel per day.
Like most herbal remedies, aloe takes time to perpetuate weight loss.
So you should give it a month or two to observe the effect.
Aloe vera gel capsules are available in the market but take them only if prescribed by doctor.
Oral aloe consumption should be avoided in pregnancy and lactation as it can stimulate uterine contractions or cause gastrointestinal trouble. It should be avoided in case of allergy.
Common side effects seen in topical application of aloe vera gel is skin irritation and in case of oral gastric trouble is observed. High doses of aloe vera gel can turn out to be carcinogenic due to presence of anthraquinones.
Aloe vera should be avoided orally if one is consuming oral blood glucose lowering drugs. To avoid drug interactions, it is best to consult a physician before starting on aloe supplement.
Aloe vera gel is my favourite choice when it comes to maintaining a healthy, glowing skin.
It is interesting to know that aloe vera extracts favour weight loss. Most studies focussed on aloe vera’s effect on weight are conducted on animal models.
Yet some studies demonstrate its use in treating diabetes in humans and the results show favourable weight loss outcomes.
These studies have been conducted for limited time periods so one can’t make definite conclusions regarding its effect on weight loss.
Aloe extract has a number of other benefits which makes it worthwhile to try as a weight loss agent.