Constipation Advice

Constipation remedies

Bulk forming agents

When taken with water, these natural laxatives increase the bulk of waste matter in the bowel, making it easier to eliminate. They also soften the stools so that they are passed more easily. Bulk forming laxatives containing natural fibre include:

(Always read the label leaflet)

Isphagula husk can work in the majority of people within 24 hours.



Motility enhancers

These stimulate contractions of the muscles in the colon to reduce the time it takes for the passage of waste material through the bowel. These tend to work within 8-12 hours.

Examples of motility enhancers are:

(Always read the label leaflet)

Senna is a natural ingredient that has been used for centuries as a constipation remedy and its efficacy and tolerability are well documented. Senna works only on the colon, which is where constipation occurs. It usually works within 8-12 hours. Bisacodyl is a synthetic stimulant laxative.


Osmotic laxatives

These act by promoting fluid retention in the bowel to keep the stools moist and easier to pass.

Examples include:

  • magnesium sulphate (e.g. Epsom Salts)
  • lactulose or lactitol (synthetic sugars)
  • glycerol

Glycerol has an osmotic action and works by drawing fluid into the bowel, softening the stool and so easing constipation. As the Glycerol suppository breaks down, it moistens and lubricates the passage of the stool. Inserted rectally, the suppository can also produce a mild stimulatory effect in the bowel. Glycerol suppositories can work in 15-60 minutes.


Lubricating agents / faecal softeners

These work by promoting water penetration into hard stools making them easier to pass.

An example of this is:

  • docusate sodium (also has gut motility enhancing properties)

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Always read the label. Ask your pharmacist for advice.
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