Effective and Natural Laxatives for Kids and Adults
It is common to have changes in your bowel movement regularity occasionally. Sometimes due to stress, eating habits, or travel, you might find you have to go more or less than usual. However, if you are consistently going number 2 less than 3 times a week, you may have a constipation issue. According to WebMD, constipation occurs because of the solidification of waste material in the guts that can make emptying the bowels difficult or painful. Constipation may become chronic if the digestive tract muscles become dry, contract, or somehow block the passage of waste material.
The causes and symptoms of constipation
Constipation may happen at any age – from infants to elderly, people can suffer from this condition. The causes of constipation may be different:
- Irregular and bad eating habits;
- Multiple sclerosis;
- Colon cancer;
- The prolonged intake of certain medications.
According to the Mayo Clinic staff, the symptoms of constipation are:
- Painful and straining sensations during a bowel movement.
- Hard stools.
- While emptying the bowels you may feel an obstruction or feel that you haven’t gotten it all out.
- Having less than 3 stools weekly.
Constipation can be effectively treated with the help of over-the-counter laxatives (OTC) and natural remedies.
The benefits and risk of medical laxatives for constipation
According to recent statistics, in 85% of all cases of constipation, health care specialists recommend treatment with strong laxatives that can be differentiated into a few groups:
- Stimulant laxative pills are the most popular type of OTC laxatives in the United States. Some popular laxative brands in this group are Senokot, Ex-Lax, Dulcolax, and Correctol. These drugs may stimulate the lining of the intestines and cause the contraction of digestive tract muscles. They also run the risk of “laxative dependency” when a person turns to be unable to void his bowels without the use of these pills;
- Saline and osmotic medications – these are liquid laxative agents that draw fluids into the guts by means of an enema;
- Bulking agents – Benefiber, Metamucil, Fiber-Lax, Citrucel and similar medications may work as lubricant laxatives. They can make the stools slippery because they contain mineral oils capable coating the guts’ walls and preventing them from drying.
It is important to understand that there is no such thing as the best laxative for constipation. The mentioned laxative brands can be very helpful for some people and completely useless for others. Besides, the majority of fast-acting laxative pills can cause serious side effects, especially when taken regularly for a long time. These side effects include:
- Fluid loss;
- Constant damage to the digestive organs;
- Imbalance of electrolytes;
- Water retention;
- Body mass changes;
- Problems with the cardiovascular system.
A fiber-rich diet for constipation relief
Many health care specialists recommend starting the treatment for constipation in adults and children with a fiber laxative diet. A recent study claimed that 77% of the participants diagnosed with chronic constipation improved their bowel movements after increasing their daily intake of fiber-containing foods.
There are 2 types of dietary fibers:
- Soluble fibers – like beans, oat bran, nuts, peas, seeds, barley, and lentils. These foods can absorb water and form a gel-like substance that may soften the stools;
- Insoluble fibers – most vegetables, wheat bran, and whole grains can add bulk to your stools and stimulate their movement through the digestive system.
Health care specialists recommend adding a mixture of soluble and insoluble fibers to your daily diet.
Bear in mind that the total fiber intake per day should not surpass the recommended dose of 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women.
Top 4 natural laxatives for children
Many infants and children under 6 years old suffer from constipation bouts. Taking OTC laxatives may be dangerous for kids. Instead, parents may consider using home remedies for child and infant constipation relief. There are two options for natural baby laxative remedies:
- Glycerin suppository in the rectum that may work as a mild stool softener for kids;
- Natural food laxatives for kids – like stewed apricot or prune juice.
For infant constipation treatment at home, you may use the following recipes:
Soaked prunes and raisins
Consider preparing a liquid laxative for kids by soaking 1 tablespoon of pitted prunes and 1 tablespoon of raisins in a glass of water. Leave it to soak overnight. Give this water to an infant the first thing in the morning. Your child can also eat the tasty soaked raisins and prunes.
Castor or olive oil before breakfast
Before feeding a child, try to give them 1 tablespoon of pure castor or olive oil. Alternatively, add 1 tablespoon of the oil as a dressing or into their food.
Lemon juice and honey
For children who are older than 6 years, you may give a mixture of 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Repeat twice throughout the day.
Cereal with flaxseed
Consider preparing a fiber-rich cereal with 2 teaspoons of flaxseed for your child’s breakfast. You may feed your child this cereal meal daily.
Top 4 natural stool softeners for adults
If you are wondering what natural stool softener to choose for an adult with slow or painful bowel movements, consider using one of the following remedies:
A drink with Epsom salts
To prepare an instant laxative, consider preparing a mixture containing 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts with 1 cup of any fruit juice. Drink the whole cup and wait for the result. If the mixture turns out to be ineffective within 4 hours, try drinking one more dose.
Baking soda may work as the best natural laxative for adults because it can help neutralize acid and stimulate the waste passing through the gut. You may drink a mixture containing ¼ cup of warm water and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Try drinking it quickly for the best result.
Pure aloe gel
Consuming pure aloe juice from the plant may be helpful for people who seek a gentle laxative with quick effects. You may drink one cup of aloe juice or a mixture of 2 tablespoons of pure aloe gel with any fruit juice.
The mixture of fruit juice and castor oil
Castor oil may also work a mild laxative for adults. Try drinking a mixture of 1 cup of fresh fruit juice and 1 tablespoon of castor oil if you have problems with bowel movements. Expect a result within 4-6 hours after drinking,
Seeking medical assistance can be a good decision if you or your children have regular bouts of constipation. Constipation can be a sign of more serious health problems.