What Are the Best Over-the-Counter Laxatives to Relieve Constipation?

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Fiber-bulking agents, lubricant laxatives, stool softeners, osmotic laxatives and stimulant laxatives are all effective at relieving minor constipation, according to WebMD. However, the regular use of stimulant laxatives is discouraged because of their interference with the body’s ability to absorb calcium and vitamin D.

Most doctors recommend fiber for slow-transit and normal constipation, according to WebMD. Over-the-counter bulking agents such as Benefiber, Fiber-Lax, Citrucel and Metamucil are effective in increasing the bulk and water content of the stool. These bulking agents also help the stool move more rapidly through the colon.

When fiber doesn’t work, lubricant laxatives can be beneficial in creating a slippery environment for the stool, advises WebMD. Mineral oil is a type of lubricant laxative that is recommended for short-term constipation treatment.

Stool softeners, or emollient laxatives, are also recommended, according to WebMD. Colace is a popular stool softener, which works by making the stool easier to pass. In much the same way, osmotic laxatives draw water into the stool to make passage more efficient. Some osmotic options include Miralax and Milk of Magnesia.

Instant relief can usually be found with stimulant laxatives, reports WebMD. These laxatives stimulate the intestinal lining to speed up the stool as it passes. Some popular stimulant laxatives to try include Ex-Lax, Feen-a-Mint and Correctol.