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. 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.
We’d like to send you our Guide to Constipation for more advice on overcoming irregularity without relying on laxatives.