Not sure whether to use Aloe Vera for Constipation? We have looked into the pros and cons and will fill you in on what we found.
We're not doctors, but we have been using Aloe Vera ourselves for a long time and wanted to find out more about what is really known, and what research has been done into the safety of taking it for those uncomfortable sluggish days. After all, knowledge is power, isn't it?
Scientific Evidence that it Works
Aloe Vera has been used since ancient times as a cure-all for practically everything. But modern science hasn't caught up with ancient wisdom in the sense that we haven't got the proof yet for all the claims made for the 'miracle plant'.
What we do know:
A yellow, bitter liquid derived from the skin of the Aloe leaf contains Anthroquinone Glycosides which have purgative properties - which means it makes you go!
A double-blind placebo-controlled study found that a medication containing Aloe latex with Celandine and psyllium husk was effective in chronic constipation. But unfortunately, it isn't known for certain whether it was the Aloe or the other two ingredients which was the important ingredient!
Dr Jeffrey Bland of the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine in California studied the results of Aloe Vera on the digestive tract of healthy subjects. He found that stools were bulkier and food moved faster through the bowel.
According to the University of Maryland, Aloe latex, is a powerful laxative, but they don't recommend using it because of its side effects which we'll talk about below.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration no longer permits Aloe Latex as an over the counter laxative because of insufficient safety data.
What we don't know about Aloe Vera for Constipation:
Aloe Vera has not been proved 100% safe for internal use.
We don't know the best dosage. No scientific studies have come up with definite doses for using Aloe Vera as a laxative.
However, Dr Peter Atherton reports that: 150mg of dried juice a day, combined with celandine (300 mg) and psyllium (50 mg), has been found to work to get you moving.
Aloe Vera hasn't been compared with other drugs in any trial to see whether it is better or worse than other laxatives.
Side Effects of Aloe Vera for Constipation
Some people have reported painful abdominal cramping and diarrhoea.
Use for more than 7 days may cause dependency.
Using long term is NOT recommended due to possible potassium depletion which can cause an irregular heartbeat.
Regular use can cause dehydration and alteration of the body's electrolyte balance.
Using anthroquinione laxatives for more than 1 year has been linked with an increase in risk for colon cancer.
Diabetics should not use Aloe Vera as there are reports that it can lower blood sugar.
Pregnant women should avoid, as it could bring on uterine contractions.
No studies have been done on whether it is passed into breast milk.
Our Conclusions about Using Aloe Vera for Constipation
While taking an occasional dose of Aloe Vera for Constipation may be OK, don't use it for more than a week. If you are still having problems, you should consult your doctor.
Don't use it if you have any other health conditions, particularly kidney or cardiac disease, diabetes or intestinal conditions without consulting a doctor first.
Aloe Vera for IBS
Irritable bowel syndrome affects many people and there are encouraging reports about the efficacy of Aloe Vera Gel in IBS. Dr Peter Atherton, for instance, uses it with his patients and has had excellent results. We suggest if you want to try it yourself to read his book 'The Essential Aloe Vera' and consult your doctor before treating yourself.
"Regular consumption of Aloe Vera gel worked well in the
majority of patients who tried it. One female patient was so pleased
with her newly controlled bowel that she said "I can go shopping now
with confidence – it's great". "
Dr Peter Atherton now reports that AV gel is his primary treatment for
Note that Dr Atherton is using the gel inside the leaf which is not
the same as the yellow bitter latex which has the laxative properties!