Natural laxatives, in the form of certain herbs, spices, and other foods, have been used to help alleviate constipation for over 2,000 years. It is safe to say we have known for quite some time just how important it is to be regular. A natural laxative might be used with other methods such as nutritional therapy, herbalism, and naturopathy. There are specific medications that can help alleviate constipation and other digestive issues, but they are not considered natural. Keep reading to learn more about natural laxatives.

What Are Natural Laxatives?

Laxatives help to regulate your digestive system and relieve constipation. Natural laxatives, unlike store-bought laxatives, are much safer. There’s a good chance you may have some in your house already. Foods such as coffee, yogurt, leafy greens, flax seeds, and chia seeds are natural laxatives. Fruits like apples, kiwi, berries, pears, and prunes are high in fiber, which can also help regulate your bowel movements.



Are Natural Laxatives Safe For Everyone?

Because natural laxatives are safer than over-the-counter laxatives for several reasons, they are safe for almost anyone. Since most are simply types of food, it’s safer than taking a pill or drinking something that may contain other ingredients you may not even know about. Most doctors may suggest natural laxatives first before rushing to get prescription drugs.



Who Should Avoid Natural Laxatives And Why?

If you are allergic to certain foods, it is best to avoid a natural laxative that contains that food. Avoid taking natural laxatives if you experience loose stools and discomfort; your body does not need additional help pushing bowel movements, so you need to stop taking any sort of laxative until it eases up. Seek medical attention if you think you are having an allergic reaction to your natural laxative.



Should You Speak With A Doctor First Before Starting a Natural Laxative?

Before starting a laxative, even a natural one, you should speak with a medical provider first. After discussing your health issues, your doctor might be able to suggest certain foods and other natural remedies. Some laxatives help more to regulate you while others may assist with bloating. In the event you are trying to lose weight with natural laxatives, you need to consult with your doctor about the risks.



What’s The Difference Between OTC Laxatives And Natural Laxatives?

When you buy over-the-counter laxatives, they come with warning labels. Chemicals can be found in store-bought laxatives that are not safe when taken more than recommended. For instance, you may end up with even more bloating and discomfort along with diarrhea. Natural laxatives are much safer because you know the ingredients in them. Thus, you know exactly what is going into it and how much.



Are There Any Side Effects From Taking OTC Laxatives?

Over-the-counter laxatives come with several warning labels. Some common side effects include the following:

  • Dehydration
  • Edema (Swelling and water retention)
  • Lightheadedness and dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Electrolyte imbalances
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Damage to the digestive organs and colon

Natural laxatives from foods do not cause any of these side effects.



What Are The Benefits To A Natural Laxative?

While over-the-counter laxatives can be harmful and can cause you to go sprinting to the restroom, natural laxatives tend to be much safer. If you incorporate a few foods that have natural laxative effects in your daily diet, they should help keep things moving along regularly. In most cases, when you eat foods high in fiber daily, you don't need a laxative from the store.



Are There Any Downsides To Natural Laxatives?

Bowel obstruction is possible when taking pharmaceutical laxatives for an extended period. However, there is no record of that happening when taking natural laxatives. In fact, there are not many downsides at all. Be careful, though, not to get in the habit of eating just one type of fruit or vegetable because you need nutrition from a variety of sources. You will be using the bathroom more, but that is the intended point.



Are Some Natural Laxatives Better Than Others?

Laxatives affect people differently. For example, apples and coffee may help some whereas prunes and leafy greens might work better for others. Since it's safe to have natural laxatives daily, you can experiment to see what keeps you regulated. Everyone has their preferences for what works for them. Try a few and add them to your diet.



When Should You Stop Taking Natural Laxatives?

You should avoid taking natural laxatives if you are experiencing stomach cramps, discomfort, and diarrhea. Even though natural laxatives are safe and healthy, you should consume those types of foods in moderation. Remember you need to eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly to stay healthy. If you are going to the bathroom too often, cut back immediately. Talk to your medical provider and discuss other natural laxative options if your health issues continue.



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