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FreshlyBaked's avatar

What do you find to be an effective, gentle laxative?

Asked by FreshlyBaked (626points) November 18th, 2012

Do you use laxatives for occasional constipation? What do you use?

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23 Answers

Unbroken's avatar

Personally I have tons of fiber in my diet, but Magnesium Calm, also relieves anxiety and helps you sleep is a laxative of sorts, you can find it in the grocery store by the vitamins or at a health store also some dr’s offices.
I wonder if get immediate relief from though, another option is ground flax seed.
Green tea and walking helps as well.

Buttonstc's avatar

Psyllium husks. Yerba Prima is the brand most commonly found in health food stores.

cazzie's avatar

When my son was born it was horrible (especially with 10 episiotomy stitches!) and nothing seemed to work except prune juice and prunes. Now, knock on wood, I don’t have any problems. A few cups of coffee in the morning and Bob’s your Uncle.

DaphneT's avatar

I’ve found honey and cinnamon in hot water. Discovered as side effect of treating a persistent cough. Then I looked up laxative foods for my Mom, who needs something different every few weeks to keep her system cooperative.

tedibear's avatar

This has never knock on wood been an issue for me. However, my friend Karen relies on cooked peas to get things moving.

bookish1's avatar

Well a grad school starvation and stress diet of 1200 calories a day sure helps.
Also, kale.

zensky's avatar

Dried prunes.

jca's avatar

I find a cup of anything hot – tea, usually, but coffee or soup will do it. A cup of hot tea (a big cup) is my morning routine and it usually works like a charm.

If you have problems beyond that, prunes help or any fiber. I think eating an apple a day is a good thing. Try to have fiber in all you eat – if you eat a bagel, make it a sesame bagel. If you eat yogurt, put some nuts in it. A little here and a little there adds up.

Now if you need more help and are looking for medicine, the generic laxative from the store is good, and what’s key is taking the minimum. Ususally one pill is the minimum, three might be maximum. One pill before bed should do it. Two might have you waking up with cramps and three will have you going to the bathroom within three hours. Depends on what you want. I only did this after my daughter was born, and so I found one or two to be the best bet.

gailcalled's avatar

For a quick solution, (do not use on a regular basis), try a gycerin suppository. You poke it in, carefully, and should feel the results in 15–20 minutes. It is a lubricant only and, in general, benign.

Read caveats at the source I cited ^^^.

The other safe one (much less harsh than any laxative) is a stool softener. It acts overnight.

I too have no problems due to my oatmeal, beans, nuts, grains, fruit and veggie diet. Lots of water, when I remember, is a good thing also.

gailcalled's avatar

PS. When my 96 year old mother had occasional problems, the above items were what her doc. recommend…never a laxative.

JLeslie's avatar

The always effective stand by in my opinion is a small box of raisins and a glass of water. Prunes work really well too, but I don’t like them.

Also effective is if I eat Wheatina hot cereal or a cold cereal like raisin bran, other helpful foods are vegetable soup or split pea soup. For me personally eating a lot of raw vegetables makes things worse not better.

DominicX's avatar

If that ever happens I will usually take a psyillium fiber supplement like Metamucil; it seems to be a pretty effective laxative without going overboard. But sometimes just eating a bowl of Raisin Bran seems to work as well.

jca's avatar

Some good cereal is something like a mini wheat type of thing (Frosted Mini Wheats is one, but there are non-frosted versions out there).

Like others have said, drink lots of water too. Take a walk now and then to jog things up!

Kardamom's avatar

I had a pretty horrific bout of constipation about 8 years ago, as I was entering my 40’s. I literally thought I was going to die, or I probably would’ve comitted suicide if it didin’t stop soon. My mom gave me a stool softener that worked in about 6 hours. The suppositories should also work, but my backside has a sign reading: exit only do not back up, so the idea of putting something in there from that end threw me into hysterics.

Since that day, I have taken fiber supplements (even though I am a vegetarian and have a pretty high intake of fiber anyway, but apparently it wasn’t enough). So I either take Metamucil Clear Flavorless Fiber Supplement, actually I use Target’s own brand, it’s the same stuff, but it’s about $6.99 as opposed to $10.99. This stuff is great, because it’s clear and flavorless, you can put it into any kind of drink that you normally like, milk, tea, soda, juice etc. My Dad actually sprinkles it on top of his cereal each morning. I usually have my fiber with dinner and it works over night.

I alternate between that and Ground Flax Seed which only costs about $2.79. Unground flax seed is OK too, but the ground flax seed has the added benefit of giving me needed essential fatty acids (which most people would get from eating seafood, but I’m a vegetarian). The whole seeds work fine for keeping you regular, but you don’t absorb the fatty acids, they just go right through you.

I’ve found that eating a small bowl of Grapenuts, which I happen to love, with a cup of coffee in the morning will get me going very quickly add some delicious chopped prunes, even better. Hence my answer on another Q from today about what you cannot tolerate while staying as a guest in someone else’s home. My answer was that I find it hard to stay with people who only have one bathroom and you have to go through your host’s bedroom to get to it. When I gotta go, I gotta GO NOW!

Each of these products, with me taking 2 Tablespoons per day with food or a glass of water, lasts about 2 months. Note: with the flax seeds (ground or un-ground) you need to keep them in the fridge or freezer, because they tend to go rancid if you don’t do that (I actually do that with all of my nuts and grains).

Here’s some info on what to eat, and what to avoid eating, to Prevent Constipation

Also, if you find yourself becoming constipated more often, you should probably get a check up with your doctor, to make sure you don’t have some other type of problem in your digestive system.

jca's avatar

@Kardamom and @FreshlyBaked: Constipation can also be a symptom of a slow thyroid.

Strauss's avatar

I’ve had bouts off and on most of my life. Here are some things I’ve used (some already mentioned above):

Coffee; lots of veggies or high-fiber foods; oatmeal for breakfast, with raisins, sweetened with honey and cinnamon.

Brenna_o's avatar

Miralax won’t give diarrhea but helps soften things up.

Kardamom's avatar

@jca, You’re right. Another good thing to get checked for if someone is having regular bouts o’ constipation.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Olive oil.

One big spoonful. Wait, repeat if necessary.

No nasty side effects.

JLeslie's avatar

Besides thyroid problems constipation can be caused by pain killers like narcotics and iron supplements. Iron is a very common one people overlook. I don’t know if the OP is a man or woman? Almost all daily vitamins for women who have not gone through menopause yet have some iron, and if a person takes additional iron that almost certainly will constipate someone.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

For the occasional problem, a handful of prunes works nicely. For chronic constipation, Magnesium pills work wonders, and one should also see a doctor to see if there is a serious medical reason for the constipation.

ton's avatar

wheat bread

barney22's avatar

I have to take painkillers so a gentle laxative isn’t enough but milk of magnesia is supposed to be good

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