Power Pudding Picture, chronic constipation

Laxatives remain one of the most popular products in the pharmacy. Millions worry that if they do not have a bowel movement every day they will become sick. But sometimes a laxative habit can develop over time for other reasons.

Q. Years ago I had a serious eating problem (anorexia) and began to use laxatives to help me keep weight off. I eventually became dependent on them and now would like to discontinue their use.

When I try to stop using laxatives, I am, of course, unable to have a bowel movement on my own and end up taking a laxative again. How can I break this cycle?

A. Your dilemma demonstrates the danger of laxative abuse. Regular use of laxatives for months or years can reduce the digestive tract’s ability to function normally. Laxatives can also disrupt your electrolyte balance by causing intermittent diarrhea.

The best approach to overcome this problem is fiber, fluid and patience. It can take time for your body to adjust. Here are some suggestions for facilitating the process:

  • Boil two tablespoons of flax in three quarts of water. Add two ounces to orange juice each morning.
  • Take psyllium (Metamucil, Per Diem Fiber, etc).
  • Chew sugarless gum.
  • Consider a magnesium supplement if your kidneys are functioning normally.

The Last Resort Constipation Remedy

When all else fails, you may want to try “Power Pudding” (AKA “Special Constipation Remedy”).  The recipe for making this nurses secret remedy is found in our Guide to Constipation and our Guide to Digestive Disorders.

Should you like to see how to make Power Pudding and the flax recipe, we have prepared a special video with detailed instructions. Here is a link to this episode of “In the Kitchen with The People’s Pharmacy.”

Share your laxative story in the comment section below. Have you ever become dependent on laxatives? How do you combat constipation? Let us know your secret?

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  1. Gerry

    I am pre-diabetic and usually constipated, i also had gastric bypass’s 15 years ago . How do you reduce carbs and still eat more fiber? If I eat beans aren’t they too many carbs? What other things can i eat That are not too many carbs?

  2. ladyliza
    los angeles

    After my gall bladder removal, I started having bowel problems that were diagnosed as constipation. No one told me this was going to be a life long issue. I have tried just about everything. But I am happy to report a couple of things work. Physilliu, type husk works well if you can stand the flavor. My last colonoscopy outcome was a resounding, “keep up whatever you are doing.” I used to have polyps and diverticulosis, but no more! Then my doctor suggested chia seeds. Not only does it reverse diabetes, type 2, but my cholesterol is almost normal and it tastes oh so much better. I take 1 1/2 Tablespoons every day. If you no longer have a gall bladder and are having issues, order the supplement oxy bile and it clears up the problem. Or if you are prone to GB attacks, get the supplement as it aids digestion of fats and prevents the attacks. I order chia seeds online as it costs about 50% less.

  3. Sherry

    Water is very heloful. But I tried just about everything ..for years…with only limited success. A product called “the Squatty Potty ” has completely changed it fir the better

  4. lee
    South Africa

    Banana 1st thing in the morning on an empty stomach and an hour later a glass of warm water wth freshly squeezed lemon

  5. Cindy M. B.
    Seattle, WA

    In my personal opinion, anybody who takes daily magnesium supplements (just according to pkg directions) and cannot leave a deposit must be deceased. Period. I make at least 7 “deposits” per day, every single day, and they are not runny, floaty, etc., but normal in every way. I’m not exaggerating.

  6. HelenM
    Modesto, CA

    About six months ago a friend told me that essiac tea had resolved all her fibro pain. The pain impacts my life greatly, so I thought I would give it a try. Well, the $50+ price tag for the bottle, 32 oz, knocked my socks off. Especially when considering that would be an eight-day supply. I have been purchasing supplements from Swansons vitamins online for years, so gave them a look. Yep, they have a product under their label, four packets of the powdered herbs, you cook them for ten minutes, cool overnight in the pot, strain and decant and a box, $16+ gives you a month’s worth.

    Fast forward to now: still have all the pain; however, I immediately, immediately, (not a typo) no longer needed Milk of Magnesia. I had been going thru the largest bottle every month. No diarrhea, just no straining. There are days with no pushing, other days with some pushing, after all these years urges are not always present. A little push will do it; no discomfort. I cannot emphasize enough how pleased I am with this result. No disappointment over the lack of pain relief, I think this is actually better.

  7. Mary

    I live in Mexico and use both Nopal cactus and sometimes Aloe Vera (Sabila) or a combo capsule for both blood sugar control as well as maintaining bowel function.

    As far as I can tell, they does not work like regular laxatives. I suspect it is more bulk.
    My blood sugar has also remained pretty stable for about 5 years.

  8. Penelope

    Prunes, prunes and more prunes, and lots of water

  9. Denise
    Chicago, IL

    Wheat bran in orange juice every morning: the most economical, natural, and best working solution. I use four heaping teaspoons in a small glass of orange juice, stir it up and eat/drink it with a spoon. I always had horrible constipation but since doing this since 1975 the problems disappeared completely. FYI, I dilute the OJ with half water to avoid the sugar jolt.

  10. Cindy

    4 or 5 dried plums a day have completely solved my constipation problem. Just wish I had been doing this all my life.

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