This new TikTok trend says to drink heated prune juice and butter to cure constipation.
While prune juice is known as a constipation remedy, the full concoction may not be as magical as influencers say.
Encourage your patients to try doctor-recommended natural treatments if they are experiencing mild constipation, or consider prescribing them more intense treatments if the situation is more severe.
Prune juice and heated beverages may help alleviate mild constipation, but there is less positive research on butter’s impact on bowel movements.
Sometimes social media is useful, and other times it's full of crap. This latest TikTok hack for relieving constipation is a bit of both, literally.
Described by some as “a turbo-charged prune juice laxative,” the hack involves drinking a concoction of heated prune juice topped with a tablespoon of butter to get things moving.
Gastroenterology experts say some elements of the drink could help induce a bowel movement. But the exact combination may not be as magical as influencers say. Further, it’s not the only solution out there. So, depending on how desperate your patient is feeling, they might not need (or want) to follow the recipe to a T.
How does this hack work?
TikTok’s homemade laxative has three main components (prune juice, butter, and heat), making it pretty easy to break down and assess.
Prunes and prune juice have been used as natural remedies to treat constipation for decades, says Kaunteya Reddy, MD, medical director of Gastroenterology at Redlands Community Hospital in Redlands, California.
Prunes contain several qualities that support healthy bowel movements and thus fight constipation, including sorbitol, pectin, and polyphenols.
Sorbitol is a complex sugar that works in the gut by increasing how much water is absorbed by the intestines, Dr. Reddy explains. When the body breaks down sorbitol, it releases gas. This can be helpful for people who are blocked up but can also result in stomach discomfort or diarrhea in people who take too much of it, he adds.
Sorbitol occurs naturally in some fruits and berries and is commonly added to sweetened products like chewing gum. It’s also available in some laxatives, like sorbitol solution, to help people have a bowel movement.
Pectin and polyphenols are both fiber supplements. Fiber can help bulk up stool to make it easier to pass a bowel movement.
Prunes are usually the first choice of natural laxatives for short-term constipation,” Dr. Reddy says. “The above combination of increasing the movement of the gut and increasing fiber helps alleviate constipation.”
Butter is not so commonly used to alleviate constipation. More often, medical experts say to avoid fatty foods and oil products if you’re feeling blocked up, as foods high in fat can slow digestive pathways. However, fats in butter may play a small role in softening stool or stimulating bowel movement.
Hot beverages can help soothe a sour stomach and stimulate digestive pathways. Warm temperatures can speed up digestive motility, making it easier to pass stool, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Alternatives constipation remedies
Since both prune juice and butter can be healthy in moderation—for those who are not allergic—patients probably won’t endanger their health by trying TikTok’s remedy. But because this concoction has not been studied, the short and long-term side effects are unknown, Dr. Reddy says.
People who are averse to the solution could stick with the tried-and-true prune juice formula or test out another juice from fruits like apples or pears, which also contain sorbitol, Dr. Reddy suggests. And while they may want to heat it for an extra push, they probably don’t have to add the butter.
People who do not feel relief from natural solutions or notice blood splotches on toilet paper when they wipe should consult a doctor, Dr. Reddy says. Increasing daily fiber intake, like adding a high-fiber cereal to breakfast, can help reduce risks of becoming constipated in the future, he adds. Doctors should use their medical expertise if recommending more potent laxatives for people struggling with constipation.
What this means for you
Some people on TikTok are promoting a constipation hack where they drink heated prune juice and butter. Prune juice and heated beverages may help alleviate mild constipation, but there is less positive research on butter’s impact on bowel movements.