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.

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Many people find that prune juice helps manage constipation, and some evidence supports these claims.

In a 2022 study, 84 people with chronic constipation took 54 grams (g) of either prune juice or a placebo each day.

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.

According to a 2013 review prune juice also contains 6.1 grams (g) of sorbitol per 100 g. Sorbitol — a sugar alcohol present in prune juice — also ferments in the gut and draws water into stool.

Together, these ingredients may have a laxative effect, increasing fibre intake and improving gut function.

A 2014 review suggested that prune juice may be helpful for constipation, especially in young children.

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 11.2–15.5 g of sorbitol per 100 g of dried fruit. Prunes are also richer in fiber, which aids the passage of stool through the digestive tract.

A 100-g serving of prune juice provides 1 g of fiber, while a serving of 10 prunes (around 100 g) contains 7.1 g of fiber.

In other words, 10 prune provides around a quarter of the daily 28–34 g of fiber recommended for adults by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025.

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:

What are some other benefits of prune juice?

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.

In 2022, researchers noted that people benefited from a daily dose of 54 g, or around 54 milliliters (ml) of prune juice over 8 weeks.

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.

How do you make prune juice and what other juices and drinks can help with constipation?

Consuming prunes or prune juice is a relatively low-risk remedy for constipation. The most common side effect that people report is an increase in flatulence, or gas.

However, prune juice is also very high in sugar and calories. A 256-g cup of prune juice contains 42 g of sugar and provides 182 calories, but only 2.56 g of fiber.

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.

What are some other home remedies for constipation?

Everyone’s bowel movement patterns are different. However, people who pass fewer than three movements a week may wish to consider consulting a doctor, particularly if stools are hard and difficult to 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.

What is the treatment for fecal impaction?

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.