Research suggests drinking prune juice may help treat constipation. Prune juice may make stools softer and encourage more frequent bowel movements.
Constipation can occur for many reasons, including low activity levels, dietary factors, health conditions, and certain medical treatments.
Often, home remedies are the first line of treatment, particularly for occasional constipation. Prune juice is among the most popular home treatments.
In this article, we discuss whether prune juice works for treating constipation and how it compares to whole prunes.
Many people find that prune juice helps manage constipation, and some evidence supports these claims.
After 8 weeks, those who took the prune juice had softer stools and more frequent bowel movements than the other group. They reported no adverse effects of loose, watery stools, diarrhea, or flatulence.
The researchers believed the success of prune juice as a treatment was mainly due to the sorbitol, pectin, and polyphenol content of the juice.
Prunes are high in fiber, containing:
- hemicellulose (3 g per 100g)
- cellulose (0.9 g per 100 g)
- pectin (2.1 g per 100 g)
Gut microbiota can quickly ferment some types of fiber, such as pectin, and this may act as a prebiotic. Cellulose does not ferment but increases levels of water in the stool by stimulating movement in the gut.
Together, these ingredients may have a laxative effect, increasing fibre intake and improving gut function.
Manufacturers make prune juice from prunes, which are dried plums. Prune juice appears to offer some benefits for people with constipation, but eating whole prunes may be just as effective.
In a 2018 study, people with a low fiber intake who consumed 80 g or 120 g of prunes each day had higher stool weight and passed stool more frequently than those who did not consume prunes.
Stool weight and regular bowel movements are indicators of good gut health. The people who consumed the prunes did not experience any adverse effects.
Prunes contain more than double the amount of sorbitol than prune juice, at
A 100-g serving of prune juice provides 1 g of fiber, while a serving of 10 prunes (around 100 g) contains
In other words, 10 prune provides around a quarter of the daily 28–34 g of fiber recommended for adults by the
As well as providing relief from digestive problems, regularly consuming prunes and prune juice may benefit a person’s health in the following ways, according to one older review:
- increasing feelings of fullness to reduce overall food intake
- controlling obesity
- lowering the risk of diabetes
- protecting against cardiovascular disease
- reducing bacterial growth in the urinary tract
- preserving bone strength
There are no set guidelines on the use of prune juice for constipation.
One of the reasons for this is that there is no standard way to prepare or prescribe prune juice.
The authors of a small, older study from 2007, concluded that drinking 125 ml or about half a cup, twice a day, was effective for managing mild constipation.
A high sugar intake can increase the risk of weight gain and blood sugar problems.
A serving of around 10 prunes provides 38.1 g of sugar and 240 calories, but 7.1 g of fiber. This is still high in sugar and calories, but some older research suggests that they have only a small effect on blood sugar and insulin levels.
Everyone’s bowel movement patterns are different. However, people who pass
A doctor may recommend dietary and lifestyle changes or over-the-counter medications. People with severe constipation may need prescription medications, an enema or manual removal of stool.
Constipation is a common problem that can affect a person’s quality of life. Without treatment, it can lead to serious health complications.
Prune juice and prunes may be an effective and low-risk solution for some people, especially those with mild constipation. However, it is best to consume these fruits and their juice in moderation as both are high in sugar and calories.
Anyone with severe or persistent constipation should seek medical advice, as constipation can indicate an underlying health condition that needs attention.