Q. No one knows I have this problem. I have been using the laxative bisacodyl every day for twenty years and have steadily increased the dosage.
I’ve stopped taking it for a few days at a time. Not surprisingly, nothing moves. Are there any studies on this? Might I have done permanent damage to myself? Is it better to cut back slowly or stop altogether and just see what happens? I know it’s not healthy for waste to back up in my body, so I’m worried about stopping AND I’m worried about continuing.
A. You clearly have developed a laxative habit. Bisacodyl is considered a “stimulant” laxative, which means it triggers intestinal contractions. This can lead to loss of crucial minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Cramping and diarrhea are other possible side effects, along with a “lazy” colon that will not function properly without laxatives.
A gradual phase-off under medical supervision may allow your body to reestablish a more natural rhythm. We are sending you our Guides to Constipation and Digestive Disorders for information on non-drug approaches such as dynamite pumpkin muffins and “Special Constipation Remedy” with bran, applesauce and prune juice.