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My father-in-law uses Aloe Vera juice and encourages me to use it. He believes that this herb is great for digestive health. Is there any truth to his claim?

Dr. Brown: Aloe Vera is a plant that can produce latex. The gel that is extracted from its leaf has been used in the treatment of a variety of gastrointestinal complaints. The majority of the work using Aloe Vera juice has been in the treatment of ulcerative colitis, where the studies vary. Recent clinical trials have suggested that Aloe Vera, when taken for four weeks, was associated with a higher clinical remission and improvement in symptoms when compared to placebo (sugar pill) in patients with ulcerative colitis. Our own studies at Rush University Medical Center with Aloe Vera juice in the setting of inflammatory bowel disease have not been as promising. There is however a single clinical trial examining the efficacy of Aloe Vera juice in the treatment of the irritable bowel syndrome.The study was published in 2006 and comes from England. Fifty-eight patients were enrolled into this clinical trial. They were treated for one month with Aloe Vera juice at a dose of the 50 milliliters taken four times a day for one month. The formulation came as a pink syrup flavored with mango and the placebo given was made to match this compound in both color and flavor. The factors that were assessed in this study were abdominal pain, distention, satisfaction with their bowel habits and their overall well-being. This particular clinical trial did not show that Aloe Vera juice improves the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Thirty-five percent of the patients taking the Aloe Vera juice improved whereas 22% of the patients taking placebo improved. This difference was not statistically different making this a negative study. Unfortunately, there is very little data available today to make a firm statement regarding Aloe Vera juice. The data in irritable syndrome at this time is inconclusive and does not support its use.
2007-11-06 10:58:59

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