You will have seen aloe vera being advertised as an IBS remedy. It soothes the skin, so taking a supplement for your gut makes sense right? But does aloe vera juice help IBS or is this just another fad which is going to be a waste of your time and money?
In this article, I will look at the science behind the claims. This will help you to make an educated decision on how to manage your IBS going forward, without further false promise as I know it can be extremely frustrating trying to separate fact and fiction.
What Is Aloe Vera Juice?
Aloe vera juice is made from aloe vera plant. To make the juice, you would scoop out the gel from the plant leaf and blend with water. Some recipes suggest adding lemon for taste.
You can make your own aloe vera juice or purchase a premade version from health food stores.
Aloe Vera and IBS
A 2018 meta-analysis has suggested that aloe vera does help with IBS symptoms (1). The research identified 94 studies looking at aloe vera and IBS, but only 3 were considered good enough quality to draw conclusions from. In IBS, this can be a common issue as many supplements are not compared to placebo.
The conclusions from this meta-analysis are a little interesting as they were based on just 3 studies which did not have high enough quality data to draw any conclusions from;
Studies on Aloe Vera
- One study of 41 IBS sufferers aloe vera was shown to improve some symptoms in those with IBS – D (diarrhoea predominant). However, there was not enough of a difference to provide accurate results. Interestingly, aloe vera showed to have no improvements in those with IBS-C (constipation predominant). And, it was shown to potentially worsen abdominal distension (2).
- A randomised controlled trial showing a weak link between taking aloe vera tablets and IBS symptom improvement (3). Unfortunately, the study was too small to provide accurate results. The tablets also contained vitamin C, so it is impossible to single out aloe vera as the cause of symptom improvement.
- Another study of 47 IBS patients who were trialled on both a 60mls aloe vera drink twice a day and a placebo drink. The trial lasted 5 months for each test and showed no benefit in symptoms for those taking the aloe vera juice (4).
So it may well be that aloe vera supplements do help with IBS, but we need to do more research with bigger numbers of participants.
Take Home Message
When you are going through the unpredictable symptoms of IBS which are taking over your life, it is easy to get drawn into every supplement on the market. You recognise aloe vera as a natural supplement which has been linked to helping sooth your skin.
It makes sense that you would want to try this for your gut.
But, aloe vera juice or other aloe vera supplements have not been proven to live up to their many claims in IBS yet. Some research is looking promising, but we need further, larger scale studies.
Even at this point, you may decide ‘well I will just give it a go anyway.‘ But I would highly advise against this as you wouldn’t even know how much to take, what form to take, which strength or when you should take the supplement.