Laxative Fact, Abuse And Dependency

Welcome to where we will discuss various topics related to laxatives including why people taking laxatives, abuse and effects of laxatives overuse, dependence on it and most importantly how to be free from it. The content are consolidated result from various research papers, health forums and relevant authority sites.

What is Laxative?

According to wikipedia, Laxative means “to loosen” in Latin word – they are medicines, food or compound that are used to relieve and treat constipation. It contains chemicals that help increase bowel movements and loosens the stool. Some lubricant, stimulant and saline laxatives are used to clear the colon prior bowel examination or surgery. They can be taken orally as pills, capsules or liquids; or can be inserted into the rectum via anus.

What Are Type of Laxatives Available?

There are different types of laxatives and each of them work in different ways with their effectiveness varies from person to person. Some laxatives work within an hour while some could take 12-72 hours to work. Generally, they are divided into following categories:


Plant-based foods can act as natural laxatives and they are effective at preventing constipation. Among those foods that act as laxatives are apples, aloe vera, antichokes, bananas, blueberry, cranberry, coconut, dates, dried apricots, grapes, papayas, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, prunes, strawberry, tomato, watercress and olive oil.

Bulk-forming laxatives

These are bulk-producing agents like fiber in food that add bulk and water to stools to make them bigger, heavier but softer to pass through. They usually takes 12-72 hours to work on small and large intestine before creating the bowel movement. Examples are dietary fiber, methylcellulose (Citrucel), psyllium (Metamucil) and polycarbophil (FiberCon).

Stool softeners (Emollient agents)

These are anionic surfactant that add water and fats to stools to make them move through the digestive system easier. They work on small and large intestine within 12-72 hours. Examples are: Gibs-Eze, Colace, Diocto (docusate).

Lubricant agents

These are substances that coat the stool with slippery lipids to make the stool moves down the colon more easily. Example is mineral oil and it takes 6-8 hours to take effect.

Stimulant agents

These are substances that stimulating contractions on colon mucosa or nerve plexus to propel stools along the colon. It takes 6-10 hours and should be used under doctor recommendation as it can be dangerous under certain circumstances. Examples are Bisacodyl, Cascara, Castor oil, Senna, Pholphthalein, Microlax.

Hydrating agents

There are substances that hold more water within intestines and stimulate bowel movement. There are two type of hydrating agents: Hyperosmotic agents and Saline laxatives.

Are All Laxatives The Same?

There are many type of laxatives but not all are safe for long-term use, it is very important to learn about laxative facts and avoid listening and believing in myths. These myths about laxative effectiveness in achieving weight loss, relief constipation or increasing dosage to gain result can lead to laxative abuse.

Laxative abuse can be found among people who attempts to lose weight through repeated use of laxatives. It is mistake to believe that laxatives can help rush food and calories through the gut and bowels before they can be absorbed. After prolonged usage of laxatives, when more and more laxatives needed to produce the bowel movement, laxative dependency occurs.

Can Someone Becomes “Laxative Dependence”?

Sadly to say, Yes!!  The dependency are both physical and psychology which are so hard to get rid off and many patients suffer years before becoming laxative free. Some people may experience stomach cramp, bloody stools, dizziness, unusual tiredness or rectal bleeding. Not only that, prolonged misused or overuse of laxatives can cause problems like chronic constipation, lead to decreased bowel function and dependent on laxatives.

Is There A Way Out?

Definitely Yes!! And that is why this website is for, to provide educational information to help prevent or recover from laxative dependence. In order to overcome laxative dependency, patient need to work with professionals in treating eating disorders and gradually withdraw laxatives usage to restore colon’s natural ability of contraction. Daily diet must filled with whole-grain products, vegetables, fruits and drinking water. More details of various recovery options and steps will be discussed in the recovery section.