Mineral Oil Laxative

A Misnomer

Like castor oil, mineral oil belongs to the class of natural laxatives for constipation known as "lubricant laxatives". Lubricant laxatives, contrary to their names, do not really lubricate the intestines at all. To do so would imply that stool is sped up due to a thin film of oil which decreases the frictio n between it and the colonic walls.

Rather, lubricant class of natural laxatives have the effect of coating the stomach contents, preventing the removal of water and thereby keeping the stool soft.

The Mechanism Of Mineral Oil For Constipation

The main ingredient of mineral oil is petrolatum, which is a tasteless, colorless and odorless substance that is not only indigestible to humans, but also to bacteria. Therefore, petrolatum stays unspoiled and intact for extended periods. When it's in the intestines, it isn't absorbed and passes through completely. But like taking any oily substance that coats your stools, there may be an effect on not just absoprtion of water but also other substances. For example, fat soluble vitamins like K, D, A, and E, are sometimes found to be deficient in people who take too much oils as laxatives. This is because these vitamins dissolve well in oil and remain in the gut rather than be absorbed into the body.


How is mineral oil taken? The usual route is by oral administration, but it can also be used in suppository or enema form by placing in rectum. This is special for the class of natural laxatives, but allows for some control of dosing by restriction to the lower intestines.

Electrolyte Imbalance

As usual, there may be side effects from taking mineral oil, such as high electrolytic imbalance which needs to be remedied by fixing the diet. Since the side effects are variable across the population, it is highly advised that you seek the advice of a doctor before taking up this kind of treatment even though it's billed as a natural laxative. This is especially true if you have a kidney problem as the kidney is the organ system for clearing excess electrolytes from the body.

Information From External Sites

The Mayo Clinic has a small section on mineral oil laxative, detailing the warnings associated with mineral oil ingestion. One of these warnings is that prolonged usage leads to build-up in the body for which the side-effects are unknown. The site also warns that having large doses leads to rectal leakage, although it is unclear how they define a dose. The government has a page on the safety here at mineral oil overdose as a laxative. The Cancer.org site warns users that mineral oil causes diarrhea in some people, on their page about mineral oil laxative.

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.
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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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