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?