laxative

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laxative,

drug or other substance used to stimulate the action of the intestines in eliminating waste from the body. The term laxative usually refers to a mild-acting substance; substances of increasingly drastic action are known as cathartics, purgatives, hydrogogues, and drastics, respectively. Laxatives or cathartics fall into three general categories: irritants that stimulate the muscular action of the intestines (cascara, phenolphthalein, senna); compounds that increase the amount of bulk in the intestines either by withdrawing water from the body (salines such as Epsom salts, citrate of magnesia) or by increasing the bulk when combined with fluids (agar-agar, bran, the various cellulose substances); and lubricants such as mineral oil, which ease the passage of waste and counteract excessive drying of the intestinal contents. Frequent or regular use of cathartics may seriously disrupt the natural digestive processes. When food and even waste products are forced out of the intestinal tract too rapidly, the body is deprived of vital substances, including the nutrients absorbed in the small intestine and the water, vitamins, and minerals extracted from the waste matter in the large intestine. Vitamins A and D, which are soluble in oil, are removed from the body even when the least irritating laxative, mineral oil, is taken. In addition to disrupting digestive and nutritional processes, laxatives reinforce the condition they are intended to overcome. When the intestines are purged, it may be several days before they can fill again with sufficient waste to induce natural elimination. The harm can be perpetuated by frequent use aimed at forcing daily elimination. The response to laxatives is soon lessened, so that larger and more frequent doses may become necessary. Laxatives should be avoided especially when there is abdominal pain. An inflamed appendix may rupture after the use of a laxative. See constipationconstipation,
infrequent or difficult passage of feces. Constipation may be caused by the lack of adequate roughage or fluid in the diet, prolonged physical inactivity, certain drugs, or emotional disturbance.
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laxative

[′lak·səd·iv]
(pharmacology)
An agent that stimulates bowel movement and relieves constipation.

laxative

an agent stimulating evacuation of faeces
References in periodicals archive ?
Lifestyle changes, bulk laxatives, saline, osmotic laxatives, and enemas should be used to maintain regular defecation after the colon has been cleansed.
This quality as well as claims that bulk laxatives may actually help reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of colon cancer should bolster sales in a marketplace that is continually seeking health-oriented products.
Pharmacologic Treatment of Constipation in Elders Stimulant Laxatives Senna/Cascara (Ex-Lax[R], Senokot[R], Nature's Remedy[R]) Oral bisacodyl (Dulcolax[R]) Phenolphthalein and castor oil (not recommended in elders due to side effects of malabsorption and dehydration) Bulk Laxatives Psyllium (Metamucil[R], Perdiem[R]) Methylcellulose (Citrucel[R]) Polycarbophil (FiberCon[R]) Osmotic Laxatives Magnesium hydroxide (Milk of Magnesia[R]) Magnesium citrate Sodium phosphate Lactulose Polyethylene glycol (MiraLax[R]) Glycerine Sorbitol Fecal Softeners Docusate sodium (Colace[R]) Mineral oil Enemas Phosphate Soap suds Tap water Oil retention Table 5.
Psyllium fiber used in bulk laxatives and soy fiber have effects similar to the effects of wheat bran.
To drive that point home, some suppliers of fiber and bulk laxatives, including Konsyl, have been stressing these findings in an effort to get physicians and pharmacists to steer more patients toward fiber-rich products.
Once the diagnosis has been made, there are a nuber of treatments that may help, such as antispasmodics to control diarrhea, tranquilizers for temporary relief of anxiety, and bulk laxatives (high in fiber) or stool softeners to relieve constipation, if necessary.
Lamy cites examples of problems associated with the use of OTCs, such as swallowing chewable tablets whole (the tablets subsequently not dissolving, thus requiring surgical removal), dissolving aspirin tablets in the mouth (thus burning the lining of the flesh), and taking bulk laxatives without sufficient water dilution (necessitating surgical intervention to foster bowel evacuation).
At least two cereals, Kellogg's Fiberwise (formerly called Heartwise) and Bran Buds, contain psyllium, a grain high in soluble fiber that is primarily used in over-the-counter bulk laxatives.
Nevertheless, the AHPA figure also includes approximately $250 million in psyllium seed husks that are the key ingredient in O-T-C bulk laxatives (e.