We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are Laxatives?

By R. Kayne
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Laxatives are substances or drugs that stimulate the intestines, causing the body to eliminate waste. They are most often taken for constipation that may result from too little roughage in the diet, too little water, inactivity, anxiety, or even certain medications.

There are five main types of laxatives that work in varying ways to achieve the same result. They are fiber or bulk laxatives, hyperosmotics or salts, stimulants or cathartics, softeners and lubricants.

Drugs that are high in fiber such as bran or cellulose products, increase bulk by combining with fluids in the body. This creates a natural stimulation of the intestines. Metamucil is one example of a particular brand.

Epsom salts and citrate of magnesia or citroma draw water from the body into the bowels to make a softer mass. This is the same principle as the fiber-based drugs, but some prefer hyperosmotics because they don't have a tendency to cause the bloat that many people experience with fiber.

Examples that stimulate the intestinal muscles are senna, phenolphthalein and cascara. The Ex-Lax brand falls under this category.

Stool softeners hydrate and lubricate mass in the intestine by causing it to absorb fluids and fats. An example here is docusate.

And finally, the most well known lubricant laxative is mineral oil.

Many people are under the false impression that they must eliminate waste every day. Though this may be normal for some, it isn't an absolute. Using daily laxatives or enemas is not advisable and can lead to the body becoming "lazy" to eliminate on its own. Additionally, if food is forced through the intestines before it has had a chance to pass through the entire tract normally, important vitamins, minerals, fluids and other substances cannot be extracted for the body to use. This is the prime job of the intestines.

Even mineral oil depletes the body of Vitamins A and D because they are oil soluble. Once the intestines are empty from using a laxative, it may take a few days for them to fill enough for the body to induce natural elimination. If one uses these every day, the body virtually never needs to induce waste removal. It's unwise to 'train the body' to cease exercising natural functions. Unfortunately many young people abuse laxatives daily as a means of keeping weight off. This is very unhealthy and potentially damaging.

While the term "laxative" commonly refers to milder remedies like those listed above, substances that cause more intense action fall under the headings of either purgatives, hydrogogues, and drastics.

Occasional help from a laxative is normally safe in healthy people; however, prolonged problems should be diagnosed by a physician.

Laxatives play a crucial role in managing constipation and regulating bowel movements, but they should be used responsibly. For those seeking a more natural approach to digestive health, incorporating the best greens supplement into one's diet can offer a gentler alternative, providing essential nutrients and fiber to aid in digestion. It's important to remember that while laxatives can offer relief, they are not a substitute for a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. Always consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement or treatment to ensure it aligns with your individual health needs.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon89315 — On Jun 09, 2010

Coffee works but is toxic for your body so you fix one problem and create another.

By velikaribat — On Feb 15, 2008

Can't you characterize caffeine as a laxative? I know that coffee helps relieve constipation for many people.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.