One of the best pieces of evidence for the widespread prevalence of constipation is the fact that laxatives are one of the bestselling over-the-counter medicines in pharmacies today. Most households have a laxative in their medicine cabinet.
Laxatives are highly effective at providing temporary relief to constipation, but most do so at the expense of permanent injury! Most laxatives, even the natural ones containing herbs, are intestinal irritants and habit forming. They are useful short term and in the case of an emergency, but should never be considered for long term use. The most difficult cases of constipation to cure are from people who have made a habit of using laxatives. Over time more and more laxatives are needed for the same effect as your bowel becomes lazier and lazier until refuses to work in its own.
The two most common stimulating natural laxatives are the herbs senna and aloe. Other herbs commonly used are cascara (also called sacred bark), rhubarb and triphala. These herbs are often mixed into natural bowel care or fibre supplements. These fibre supplements seem to work fabulously, but part of the good result you get is from the hidden laxative inside them. Before purchasing any digestive supplement or fibre blend check the ingredients with a consultant at your local health store to make sure it has no laxatives in them. Again it is ok to use these herbal laxatives in the short term, for emergency situations or while doing a colon cleanse when you want to clear out the colon, but aim to wean yourself off them as soon as possible. If you have a situation where you need to use a product with a stimulating herbal laxatives for longer than one week we recommend cascara as it may be less habit forming than the other herbs.
There are some laxatives that are known as bulk forming laxatives that work by providing fibre into the colon to bulk up the stool and draw water into the colon. These laxatives are preferred over stimulating laxatives for long term use. However a good natural fibre supplement fulfils the same functions and can be used instead.
Supplemental fibres that increase the concentration of the probiotic lactobacillus in the gut will also have a laxative effect. The fibres fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin help to draw moisture into the bowels whilst at the same time feeding and helping to establish the lactobacillus in your gut. These fibres, and others like them, are commonly called prebiotics. They are not as fast acting but can be beneficial.
By following the information on this blog page you should find that you no longer need to use laxatives on a long term basis. If you are currently using a laxative (or a nutritional fibre supplement containing a hidden laxative) we recommend you slowly reduce your dosage whilst you continue to follow the information on this blog page. After a bit of patient perseverance you will be delighted with the results of the dietary and lifestyle changes you have made.