Check out our new article on Epsom salt laxative. It is also the first of our new mineral laxatives category, of which there are several. Because they are minerals, sometimes people do not think of them as natural like herbs. But technically, they are naturally occuring minerals so we have felt that it is best to include them.

Introduction to Natural Laxatives

The need for laxatives

Yes, there are natural laxatives. Some are dietary in nature, such as wheat germ, psyllium husks and the famous Beverley-Travis mix. Some are herbal, such as senna and aloe (although the latter has been heavily discouraged for use as a laxative). And some others are oil-based, such as mineral or castor oil laxatives.

People seek out laxatives to treat constipation, estimated to afflict anywhere from 10 to 20% of the total population. Constipation is a condition that is difficult to define quantitatively, but casually it is considered to be a condition in which the time between passage of stool is excessive, or that the passage of stool itself is difficult and or painful.

Defining constipation

There is little question that hard stools can be painful to pass. However, what constitutes excessive time between stools is unclear. For some people, defecation happens on a regular basis, perhaps as frequent as once or twice per day. For others, defecation seems to occur naturally once every three days. Physicians concur that there is a wide window for what is considered normal. To help physicians reach a consensus, the Rome criteria guidelines were devised by a panel of professionals in an attempt to unify the criteria by which one diagnoses constipation.

Diet and fiber is sometimes enough

Dietary modification through increase of fiber rich foods without the use of laxatives is one of the first, natural ways of treatment. However, while dietary modification may increase the amount of fiber in the diet, there is a limit to the amount of extra fiber that can be obtained through normal foods alone. It's likely that additional treatments will be needed and that is where laxatives. If dietary fiber is insufficient, one may try another natural treatment by resorting to the use of high fiber supplements. There are a number of famous supplements, including Metamucil, which is a form of insoluble fiber that has been shown to improve colonic regularity.

A role for natural laxatives

However, should fiber by itself show insufficient power to resolve the condition, many will turn toward natural laxatives. A famous one is Senokot, based on the herb senna. Other types of natural laxatives include more common house hold itemsor items found in drug stores, such as mineral oil, castor oil, glycerin and prune juice.

Muesli is a source of fiber for breakfast cereals but a high fiber diet has been shown to be effective in only a fraction of people with constipation.
Glycerol (or glycerin) is a three carbon compound with one oxygen atom each. It attracts water through the hydrophilic effect.
The senna plant is shrubby and common in temperate regions.
This watercolor by a USDA artist shows the cross section of a common prune.

© Copyright 2015 Natural Laxatives
Disclaimer: Information given on this site is not medical advice. If you have a medical problem or suffer from a serious medical condition, you should talk to a doctor. Information found here is a compilation of information found in other sources available over the internet and in publicly available journals. The author expressedly states here he is not a medical professional.

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