Stop Taking Laxatives (What To Do Instead)
By Sara Novak
Constipation happens when the colon takes in too much moisture from the stool making it too dry and difficult to move through the digestive system. You’re considered constipated if you don’t have at least three bowel movements a week, which for most, is far from enough to cleanse waste from the body.
Those that have trouble going to the bathroom are often older, don’t eat enough fibrous foods, are dehydrated, or are on certain medications. And of the more than 2.5 million Americans that are constipated, many of them turn to synthetic laxatives, which can throw your body off balance and cause dependency. Want a better way? Read on.
Table Of Contents:
- What Are Laxatives
- Side Effects Of Synthetic Laxatives
- Causes Of Constipation
- Natural Alternatives To Laxatives
What Are Laxatives?:
Laxatives are used to stimulate bowel movements more efficiently. They come in various forms: bulk forming, stool softening, oral osmotic, and stimulants. Bulk forming laxatives like Metamucil add fiber and absorb water, adding more bulk to the stool so it’s easier to push through the system. Stool softeners add water to the stool to avoid strain when passing a bowel movement, Oral osmotic laxatives like Milk of Magnesia pull water into the colon to soften the stool, and stimulants do just that, they trigger contractions of the intestines to stimulate the digestive system.
Side Effects Of Synthetic Laxatives On The Body:
Laxatives have a number of side effects and while they may work in the short term, in the long term they can be problematic. Most all forms of laxatives can cause a number of symptoms including:
- Upset stomach
- Loose stools
- Increased thirst
- Electrolyte imbalances
- Rectal irritation
- Liver issues
- Nutrient deficiencies
Dependency is another issue because once your body starts to need laxatives for bowel movements, you may lose the urge to go on your own. Severe laxative abuse, especially those associated with eating disorders, can cause permanent damage to the liver as well as colon infections and IBS.
Read More: The Ultimate Guide To zuPOO
The Importance Of Electrolytes:
According to the Mayo Clinic, laxatives can cause the body to have trouble absorbing medications and nutrients in foods which can result in deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances, leading to “abnormal heart rhythms, weakness, confusion, and seizures.” Electrolytes, which include calcium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and sodium are crucial for normal functioning and imbalances can wreak havoc on your overall health.
Dehydration And Constipation:
Dehydration is one of the most common causes of constipation. It causes dry stools which are harder for the body to pass. How much water you need daily depends on your size, exercise routine, climate, and other factors but making sure you drink the number of ounces in half your body weight is a good place to start. Additionally, stay away from synthetic laxatives which can also dehydrate the body.
Diet And Constipation:
Beyond water, a number of foods can help reduce constipation. Make sure that the foods you choose are organic and local. These foods are some of the best when you feel stopped up:
- Sweet Potatoes
Natural Alternatives to Laxatives:
If you’re constipated but you don’t want to take synthetic laxatives, these natural alternatives can help get things moving.
Psyllium is a herbaceous flowering plant found all over the world. Its seeds have long been turned into a fibrous concoction and used to treat constipation. A study published in Complimentary Therapies in Medicine found that in patients with type 2 diabetes, psyllium cookies were a “useful tool for decreasing constipation symptoms, weight, glycemic, and lipid levels.” Another study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that psyllium husk changed the microbiome in those that took it versus those that did not in a way that was amenable to better digestion and relief of constipation.
Slippery elm is a variety of elm tree that’s native to the United States, grown from North Dakota to Southern Quebec. The inner bark of the tree is edible and often used as a natural laxative. Research published in the journal Nutritional Research found that an herbal gut relief formula containing “curcumin, Aloe vera, slippery elm, guar gum, pectin, peppermint oil, and glutamine” significantly improved GI symptoms in the study group over a three month period.
It makes sense that exercise would be an effective tool for relieving constipation. After all, if you want to get things moving, it’s best to get yourself moving. But what does the science say? A review published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology found that in nine randomized trials which followed a total of 686 study participants, exercise provided significant constipation relief. Another study published in the journal Comprehensive Physiology found that exercise reduced the impact of constipation almost overnight. The bottom line is that if you’re not moving most days of the week, you should be.
Milk thistle is an invasive flowering herb that’s native to Mediterranean countries. It’s long been used in traditional folk medicine for treating an upset stomach. A study published in the journal Phytomedicine found that when milk thistle was combined into an herbal remedy that included extracts of lemon balm leaves, peppermint leaves, and caraway fruit it was found effective at relieving constipation, though more research needs to be done on the subject.
Glucomannan is a carbohydrate used in food production that’s often found in the cell walls of plants. It’s a polysaccharide that absorbs water and is used to treat constipation. A study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that glucomannan increased and improved the consistency of bowel movements in children with constipation. Research published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care found that pregnant women who used glucomannan found it “highly effective for treating pregnancy constipation, and no serious complications [were] reported.”
Cayenne Pepper Extract
You might have heard that hot peppers are good for your health. Well, here’s another good reason to get excited. Cayenne pepper is a hot chili pepper used to add heat to many of your favorite dishes. The popular spice is native to Cayenne, French Guiana and its main ingredient capsaicin is found by drying the fruit or by extracting an essential oil. The extract is known for having a number of beneficial effects on digestion. A study published in the
Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine found that chilis stimulated digestion by causing “saliva and bile secretion as well as activities of digestive enzymes of the pancreas and small intestine.”
Known as bitter aloe, aloe ferox is a woody, flowering aloe plant native to southern Africa. It’s been used traditionally by the people of the Eastern Cape of Africa and Lesotho for centuries and with good reason. Research published in the journal BMC Gastroenterology found that it was effective as a laxative treatment in constipated rats. It increased the bulk of fecal matter and reduced weights in animal models. Another study published in
Human & Experimental Toxicology found that aloe ferox was safe and didn’t cause “any significant effect on the kidney and liver” function when it was tested as a supplement on rats.
Caffeine is a well known central nervous system stimulant used in coffee, tea, and chocolate to name a few. It’s probably not a good idea if you suffer from an anxiety disorder because it can exacerbate the problem. It has been shown to also stimulate the digestive system, but there’s little research to back this up. Still, anecdotal evidence persists, so it could be something worth trying. Just make sure you’re hydrated because coffee is also a diuretic and dehydration has been known to harden the stools and make them more difficult to pass.
It’s one more reason to hit your mat. Yoga is known for its positive impact on the endocrine system and nearly every other aspect of the body, but it's also good for digestion. A study published in the journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that yoga was effective for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Twists, bow pose, wind-relieving pose, and cobra pose are all particularly good at reducing constipation.
Bentonite Clay is a water absorbing bulking clay that’s used in a host of wellness applications. It’s added to a number of bulking natural laxative agents and to facial masks to extract impurities from the skin. Formed from a combination of volcanic ash and sea water, it’s nature’s very own laxative. A study published in the Iranian Journal of Public Health found bentonite clay was effective at increasing bowel movements in patients with IBS though it was not shown to decrease pain in those same patients. A study published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research found that a zinc based bentonite clay “alleviated post-weaning diarrhea, and enhanced intestinal integrity and the digestive enzyme activities” in pigs.
Our Top, Most Recommended Constipation Reducing Supplement:
As mentioned above, laxatives are something worth avoiding because they’re addictive, dehydrating, and they throw off the body’s electrolyte balance which is so important for proper health. Research has proven that supplementing slippery elm, aloe ferox, cayenne pepper extract, bentonite clay, glucomannan, and milk thistle all help to improve digestion and get things moving again.
Luckily, UMZU’s most recommended constipation killer, zuPOO: Colon Cleanse & Gut Support includes all six in one potent cleansing tool. zuPOO is naturally-sourced and proven to help improve digestion. It’s been said that the average American carries around between 5-20 extra pounds of poop in their intestines.
People all over the world are becoming fans of zuPOO because it’s so effective. zuPOO flushes your gut and intestines and pushes waste build up out of the body. Say goodbye to bloat. zuPOO supports waste elimination and a clean, healthy gut. If you want to check out the zuPOO formula for yourself you can learn more about it here: Click Here To Learn More About ZuPOO.