Laxative/Enema Overuse

Long-term use of over-the-counter laxatives can teach your bowel to rely on these medicines, and can eventually cause constipation rather than relieve it. Some types of laxatives cause a staining of the bowel walls; some doctors think overuse of these types can lead to colon cancer. There can be problems with heart rhythm due to loss of fluids and electrolytes in very severe cases (where someone is taking laxatives multiple times a day) Obviously, severe weight loss can occur as well. Regular use of some laxatives (Correctol, Ex-Lax, Feen-a-Mint) may interfere with your body’s absorption of vitamin D and calcium; this can weaken your bones.

Here is a common question. “I have been dependent on laxatives for some time now. I want to stop but every time I do I become so constipated I have to start taking laxatives again. How can I get my body back on track?”

Several things may assist in this process including consuming more fruit, drinking additional water, exercising daily, and stopping all laxatives. You may need to use an enema for a couple days to prevent the constipation that usually occurs with stopping laxative use.

 


Conditions that suggest Laxative/Enema Overuse

Nutrients  

Hypokalemia / Potassium Need

Potassium loss can occur in cases of laxative or enema overuse.




Risk factors for Laxative/Enema Overuse

Supplements and Medications  

Regular/daily/ab use of strong laxatives



 

Regular/daily suppository use or abuse of suppositories



 

Possible coffee enema abuse



 

Daily water enema use or abuse of water enemas



Counter Indicators
Supplements and Medications  

Not using laxatives regularly




Laxative/Enema Overuse can lead to

Nutrients  

Hypokalemia / Potassium Need

Potassium loss can occur in cases of laxative or enema overuse.



Key

Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
Strongly counter-indicative

Glossary

Over-The-Counter

A drug or medication that can legally be bought without a doctor's prescription being required.

Laxative

A substance (food, herb, chemical) that stimulates evacuation of the bowels. Examples include cascara sagrada, senna, castor oil, aloe vera, bisacodyl, phenolphthalein and many others.

Constipation

Difficult, incomplete, or infrequent evacuation of dry, hardened feces from the bowels.

Colon

The part of the large intestine that extends to the rectum. The colon takes the contents of the small intestine, moving them to the rectum by contracting.

Cancer

Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.

Electrolyte

An element or compound that, when melted or dissolved in water or other solvent, breaks up into ions and is able to carry an electric current.

Vitamin D

A fat-soluble vitamin essential to one's health. Regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood by improving their absorption and utilization. Necessary for normal growth and formation of bones and teeth. For Vitamin D only, 1mcg translates to 40 IU.

Calcium

The body's most abundant mineral. Its primary function is to help build and maintain bones and teeth. Calcium is also important to heart health, nerves, muscles and skin. Calcium helps control blood acid-alkaline balance, plays a role in cell division, muscle growth and iron utilization, activates certain enzymes, and helps transport nutrients through cell membranes. Calcium also forms a cellular cement called ground substance that helps hold cells and tissues together.

Potassium

A mineral that serves as an electrolyte and is involved in the balance of fluid within the body. Our bodies contain more than twice as much potassium as sodium (typically 9oz versus 4oz). About 98% of total body potassium is inside our cells. Potassium is the principal cation (positive ion) of the fluid within cells and is important in controlling the activity of the heart, muscles, nervous system and just about every cell in the body. Potassium regulates the water balance and acid-base balance in the blood and tissues. Evidence is showing that potassium is also involved in bone calcification. Potassium is a cofactor in many reactions, especially those involving energy production and muscle building.

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