Some women use laxatives as a form of weight control. They think, erroneously, that by eliminating wastes in their colon they can keep their weight down. All they are doing is getting rid of the body’s wastes more quickly. For women who have abdominal bloating, laxatives are tempting. They can often reduce bloating by reducing the bulk in their intestines. But bloating is often a sign of poor digestion. Perhaps digestive enzymes (either pancreatic or plant enzymes found in health food stores.) would eliminate their bloating. Some women use laxatives because they help them feel “empty and clean” inside, instead of full. One recent patient who abused laxatives was reluctant to stop them because she didn’t want to feel full. She reduced her meal portions, took enzymes for a few weeks, and felt better without her laxatives.
Then there are women who use laxatives because they’re constipated. Often, constipation is a sign of magnesium deficiency, and the only side effect of taking a lot magnesium is soft, sometimes even runny, stools. Constipation can also come from not eating enough fiber or not drinking enough water. Both are needed bulk up and soften the stools so they can be easily eliminated. Exercise is another component if you’re constipated. It’s one way of tonifying all your muscles, including your intestines. Without tone, the intestines don’t contract and push stools along to be eliminated.
Note: Esther Diaz is a health education teacher who lives in suburban Atlanta. She is our contributor.