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IBS Quick Tip of the Week!

Help For IBS
Help Is Aloe Vera Helpful for IBS? Is Aloe Vera Safe for IBS? What about Senna & Cascara?

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Hello -
  • Aloe is known for treating for minor burns and skin irritations. Is it safe and helpful to use internally for IBS?

  • NOT LIKELY. Aloe vera is classified by the FDA as a Class 1 harsh stimulant laxative.

  • The anthroquinones and anthrones in aloe cause faster and stronger bowel contractions.

  • With IBS, this can mean violent abdominal cramps, painful spasms, and diarrhea.

  • Aloe vera taken internally also has serious safety concerns.

  • Aloe is an anthranoid laxative (as are senna and cascara). All anthranoid laxatives can cause melanosis coli, cathartic colon, and possibly increase the risk of colon cancer.

  • Genotoxicity studies show that aloe-containing laxatives pose cancer risks to humans even when used as directed.

  • Chronic use of aloe internally can lead to serious medical consequences such as fluid and electrolyte imbalance, steatorrhea, gastroenteropathy, osteomalacia, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

  • When aloe is discontinued, radiographic and functional changes in the colon may only partially return to normal because of permanent drug-induced neuromuscular damage to the colon.

  • Aloe may be "natural" but that doesn't mean it's safe or helpful for IBS.

Tip Takeaway: Aloe may be great for external use, but I wouldn't take it internally for IBS under any circumstances. The potential risks far outweigh any possible benefits. I'd avoid it!


Reference 1
Reference 2

It is possible to find aloe (but not senna or cascara) from which the anthraquinones have been removed. If this is the case, the label should specifically say so, or something to the effect that "diarrhea-causing ingredients", "harsh latex chemicals", or "aloin and aloe emodin" have been removed from the product. Without these indicators, there is no way of knowing whether an aloe product is safe to take. If you wish to take aloe, contact the manufacturer of the brand you are considering for precise information about the anthraquinones.

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