Addiction To Stimulant Laxatives

Many patients become addicted to stimulant laxatives started from their lifestyle of insufficient fiber and liquid intake daily for healthy bowel movements. Some are obsessed with weight loss and body shape whereas some are having wrong perception that they must have bowel movement every day. Senna leaf teas (capsule or tablet form) for example are widely used for weigh loss.

How The Addiction Started

Misuse of such laxatives for obesity or chronic constipation treatment caused dependency on it. It creates bowel discharge that clears all feces and causes no bowel urge the next day; and patient will take laxative again to achieve the same result.  After several weeks of this stimulant abuse, patient will be addicted to it.

What Are Stimulant Laxatives

Stimulant laxatives such as Dulcolax and Senokot often use irritating and strong herbs and chemicals to generate contraction effect to force out stools within 6 to 8 hours. They are highly effective but addictive as well, your intestines will loss muscle strength and become dependent on them for defecation. Apart from having cramping and diarrhea side effects, it can cause long-term damage to intestinal lining, dehydration and loss of minerals like magnesium and potassium.

Some common stimulant laxatives include aloe, bisacodyl, cascara, castor oil and Senna.

  • Bisacodyl is commonly used for colon cleansing before colonoscopies, barium enemas, and intestinal surgery. It is sold over the counters under trade names like Dulcolax®, Fleet Bisacodyl®, Feen-A-Mint®, Gentlax-S®, Correctol® and Carter’s Little Pills. It is usually sold for 5 mg tablets, 10 mg suppositories or 1.25 fluid ounces (37 ml).
  • Castor oil is available in the market under brand names like Now® Foods Castor Oil and Sway® Castor Oil. It work within 2-6 hours and should not be taken with food.
  • Senna can be purchased under brand name like Senokot®, ex-lax®, Rite Aid® Senna Laxative and Fleet® Liquid Glycerin Suppositories. It usually promotes evacuation of the colon after 8 to 24 hours.
  • Cascara Sagrada is an herbal medication contains extract from the dried, aged bark of Rhamnus Purshiana, a species of buckthorn tree in North America. It is often used in combination with other herbals such as aloe vera. The typical dose is 300 mg once daily for short term use not longer than a week. One of the brands available in market is Nature’s Way® Cascara Sagrada Aged Bark.

Free from Stimulant Laxatives

If stimulant laxatives are taken over long period, it will cause “Lazy Bowel Syndrome” where the bowels lose its muscle tone and “laze” colons that won’t push the stools out on its own. When this happen, the patients will continue taking laxatives to have normal bowel movement and eventually developed into both physical and psychological dependence.

Forcing the patient to stop laxative intake is almost impossible, the recommended recovery method will be gradually reduce the dosage of laxatives while having more fiber and liquid intake with regular exercise. Once the condition gets better, it can be replaced with fiber supplement like psyllium. If this didn’t work out, there is a product called SennaPrompt that combines the Senna with natural psyllium fiber which will ease bowel movements and firm up stools. It can be taken for a month before switching to Konsyl Powder or capsules alone.