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FAQ's For Laxatives

Laxatives are an unhealthy way to lose weight, and frequent, long-term use can lead to serious side effects. They should only be prescribed for patients suffering from constipation. Consult a dietician and exercise regularly to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable manner.

Herbal laxatives contain compounds found in natural sources (through plants) that can help soften stool or ease stool passage. They can contain compounds like fiber, sennoside, etc.

It depends on the type of laxative. Bulk-forming laxatives take about 12-24 hours. Lubricant laxatives take 6-8 hours. Stimulant laxatives take about 6-12 hours.

Chia seeds, berries, senna, legumes, flaxseeds, psyllium, water, or coconut can be used to naturally treat constipation.

Stimulant laxatives are usually taken on an empty stomach for immediate effect. Laxatives that take 24 hours or more are taken at bedtime to produce results the next morning.

Laxatives are medications used to either loosen stool or trigger bowel movements in a patient by increasing the mobility, bulk, and frequency of stool. It is most often utilized to treat symptoms of constipation. Usually a healthy diet, drinking enough water, and getting enough exercise should not necessitate laxative use. However, if symptoms become chronic or recurring, a bowel-loosening medication may be prescribed. There are many different types of laxatives:
1. Bulking agents—Fiber helps to increase water content in stools, making them easier to pass. It is naturally available in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, but can also be taken as an OTC supplement such as calcium polycarbophil (Equalactin, Fibercon), methylcellulose fiber (Citrucel), psyllium (Fiber-Lax. Konsyl, Metamucil), and wheat dextrin (Benefiber).
2. Lubricant Laxatives—These help to lubricate stool, making it slip easily through the colon. It contains mineral oil which aids in creating slippery intestinal walls and preventing stool-drying. However, taking laxatives such as these can cause dependence, and hence are not recommended for long-term use.
3. Stool softeners (Emollient laxatives)—These usually contain docusate, a surfactant which helps keep stool wet and soft. Colace is prescribed for patients having haemorrhoids, patients recovering from surgery, or women who have just given birth.
4. Other laxatives—Osmotic and hyperosmolar laxatives such as Fleet Phospho-Soda, lucatose (Kristalose), magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia or MOM), lactitol (Pizensy), and polyethylene glycol (Miralax), prescription laxatives such as Plecanatide (Trulance), and stimulant laxatives such as bisacodyl (Correctol, Dulcolax, Feen-a-Mint), and sennosides (Ex-Lax, Senokot) can also be used to relieve constipation.

Natural laxatives are also a preferred method of treating constipation, since they are usually just as effective as OTC or prescribed drugs, but safer. The following can be used to naturally ease strained bowel movements:
Chia seeds—These seeds absorb water to form a gel-like substance which helps in creating slippery bowel movements.
Berries—Strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries are some of many berries high in fiber that can increase the stool’s bulk for easy passage.
Senna—Senna laxatives are rising in popularity due to their natural stimulant laxative properties. It is derived from the leaves of the senna alexandrina plant and contains sennoside, a compound used to accelerate bowel movements.
Legumes—Another high-fiber food, legumes create butyric acid in the body which acts as a natural laxative. Chickpeas, lentils, peas, beans, and peanuts are common forms of legumes.
Flaxseeds—These seeds are not only high in Omega-3 fatty acids and protein, but also have natural laxative properties that can help cure constipation and diarrhoea.
Coconut—In the form of oil or water, coconut laxatives are a favorite choice for those looking for mild constipation cures.

HerbsDaily offers a wide range of herbal laxatives effective in treating constipation.