Irregularity and Laxative Use
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Name not given
Posted on: January 7, 1999

Like my mother, I suffer from irregularity. I would go days without a bowel movement and when it did occur, it was painful and sometimes I bled a little. Per my doctor’s advice, I initially tired Metamucil which only caused bloating and gas. I also tried eating at least one cooked vegetable a day which helped some, but not always. My mother and her sister in-law started taking Trim-Max tea which helped them and suggested I take it as well. I started taking it slowly per the instructions, and have been drinking one cup of tea steeped one minute every night. I have been using the tea almost every evening for the past three years. This has completely eliminated the problem, but the representative at the health food store told me prolonged use is very bad for your health and can even lead to colon cancer. Is this true? The ingredients are Locus Plant (cassia angustifila senna), Gynostemma (pinta phyllum) and Berry Leaf (lyccia).

I don’t know Gymnostema or Berry leaf, but Cassia senna and many other herbs used as laxatives contain the chemical anthraquinone, which stimulates the bowel to contract. All laxatives work in a similar manner, and are always meant for short term use only. The bowel is stimulated because it recognizes the contents to be toxic, and contracts to eliminate the contents. However, some of the toxins remain in the colon, and pass into the blood stream. The immediate problem with laxative overuse is that it causes the bowel to be lazy, prolonging the problem of constipation.

There are many causes for constipation, including a diet low in fibre and/or liquids, lack of exercise, allergies, drugs, bowel disease, thyroid or blood sugar abnormalities and nerve disorders. Assuming that other causes have been ruled out, the bowel can be retrained by eating a high fibre diet (fruit, vegetables, whole grains), drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day and exercising at least 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week. The laxative formula can be slowly decreased as the diet, exercise and increased liquids start to work.

Meat, fats, dairy products, tea, sugar and refined foods such as white flour products can cause constipation. At least 5 fruits and 5 vegetables per day should be eaten while retraining your bowel. If you find it difficult to eat this much, the fruits and vegetables can be blended into juices or soups. They should not be juiced, because a juicer eliminates fibre.

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