Can Aloe Vera Juice Treat IBS?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

What is aloe vera juice?

Aloe vera juice is a food product extracted from the leaves of aloe vera plants. It’s sometimes also called aloe vera water.

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Juice may contain gel (also called pulp), latex (the layer between gel and skin), and green leaf parts. These are all liquefied together in juice form. Some juices are only made from gel, while others filter the leaf and latex out.

You can add aloe vera juice to foods like smoothies, cocktails, and juice blends. The juice is a widely known health product with numerous benefits. These include blood sugar regulation, topical burn relief, improved digestion, constipation relief, and more.

Benefits of aloe vera juice for IBS

Historically, preparations of aloe vera have been used for digestive ailments. Diarrhea and constipation are common issues the plant is well-known for helping with.

Diarrhea and constipation are also two common issues that may result from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Other symptoms of IBS include cramping, abdominal pain, flatulence, and bloating. Aloe has shown potential for helping these problems as well.

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The aloe leaf innards are rich in compounds and plant mucilage. Topically, these help with skin inflammation and burns. By the same logic, they may alleviate inflammation of the digestive tract.

Taken internally, aloe juice can have a soothing effect. Juice with aloe latex — which contains anthraquinones, or natural laxatives — may further help with constipation. However, you should keep in mind that there are some safety concerns with aloe latex. Taking too much of a laxative may make your symptoms worse.

How you can take aloe vera juice for IBS

You can add aloe vera juice to your diet in several ways:

  • Follow a recipe to make your own aloe vera juice smoothie.
  • Purchase store-bought aloe juice and take 1–2 tbsp. per day.
  • Add 1–2 tbsp. per day to your favorite smoothie.
  • Add 1–2 tbsp. per day to your favorite juice blend.
  • Add 1–2 tbsp. per day to your favorite beverage.
  • Cook with it for health benefits and flavoring.

Aloe vera juice has a flavor similar to cucumber. Consider using it in recipes and drinks with reminiscent flavors, like watermelon, lemon, or mint.

What the research shows

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Research on aloe vera juice benefits for IBS is mixed. One study shows positive results for people with IBS who experienced constipation, pain, and flatulence. However, no placebo was used to compare these effects. A study on rats shows benefits as well, but it didn’t involve human subjects.

A 2006 study found no difference between aloe vera juice and a placebo in improving diarrhea symptoms. Other symptoms common to IBS remained unchanged. However, the researchers felt that the potential benefits of aloe vera couldn’t be ruled out, even though they found no evidence there were any. They concluded that the study should be replicated with a “less complex” group of patients.

More research is needed to know if aloe vera juice really relieves IBS. Studies disproving its effects are too old, while new research shows promise, despite flaws. Research must also be made more specific to really know the answer. Studying constipation-dominant and diarrhea-dominant IBS separately, for example, could reveal more information.

Regardless of research, many people who take aloe vera juice report comfort and improved well-being. Even if it’s a placebo for IBS, aloe vera juice has many other health benefits. It won’t hurt people with IBS to give it a try if consumed safely.

Considerations for aloe vera juice

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Not all aloe vera juice is the same. Read labels, bottles, processing techniques, and ingredients carefully before purchasing. Research the companies who sell these supplements and herbs. This product is not monitored by the FDA.

Some aloe vera juice is made with just the gel, pulp, or “leaf fillet.” This juice can be consumed more liberally and regularly without much concern.

On the other hand, some juice is made from whole-leaf aloe. This includes the green outer parts, gel, and latex all together. These products should be taken in smaller amounts. This is because the green parts and latex contain anthraquinones, which are powerful plant laxatives.

Taking too many laxatives may be dangerous and actually worsen IBS symptoms. Additionally, anthraquinones may be cancer causing if taken regularly, according to the National Toxicology Program. Check labels for parts-per-million (PPM) of anthraquinone or aloin, the compound unique to aloe. It should be under 10 PPM to be considered nontoxic.

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Also check labels for “decolorized” or “nondecolorized” whole-leaf extracts. Decolorized extracts contain all leaf parts, but have been filtered to have anthraquinones removed. They should be similar to leaf fillet extracts and completely safe for more regular consumption.

To date, no human has contracted cancer from consuming aloe vera juice. However, animal studies show that cancer is possible. Take the right precautions, and you should be safe consuming it.

The bottom line

Aloe vera juice, on top of being great for overall wellness, may relieve IBS symptoms. It’s not a cure for IBS and should be used only as a complementary treatment. It might be worth a careful try as the risks are fairly low, especially if you make your own. Talk to your doctor about aloe vera juice and ensure that it makes sense for your health needs.

Also make sure to choose the right kind of juice. Whole-leaf juice should only be used sporadically for constipation. Inner gel fillet and decolorized whole leaf extracts are acceptable for daily, long-term use.

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