What Are Laxatives?


Quick Answer

Laxatives are medications that help alleviate constipation. Laxatives increase stool motility, bulk and frequency, states WebMD. Many fresh fruits, vegetables and whole-grain products act as natural laxatives.

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What Are Laxatives?
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Full Answer

Many physicians recommend fiber as a natural laxative, WebMD notes. Over-the-counter fiber supplements include Metamucil, Citrucel, Fiber-Lax, Benefiber and Equilactin. Fiber helps the stool move through the colon by adding bulk. Constipation sufferers should take care to drink sufficient water when taking fiber supplements to avoid flatulence and bowel obstruction.

Lubricant laxatives alleviate constipation by using mineral oil to make stools more slippery, WebMD explains. Lubricant laxatives are best as short-term treatments because they sometimes lessen the effectiveness of prescription drugs.

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