This is a tricky question. Constipation is never a good thing. If you’re not pooping at least once a day (three times is ideal!), you are at risk of developing bacterial overgrowth, toxin-overload and motility & digestive issues, which can then compound the constipation further.
While laxatives are helpful for those with constipation, there is a risk of developing a dependency on laxatives. So it is always good to work with a practitioner (like me!) to work out the root cause of the constipation and treat as necessary. During treatment, laxatives are often a necessary part of my protocols, to ensure bowels are moving regularly.
Laxatives, however, aren’t all made equal. Many pharmaceutical laxatives, like Movicol, alkalinise the colon (the colon should be more acidic) which can then reduce beneficial butyrate producing microbes & short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). When these are low, the gut can become very inflamed, and can potentially make the constipation worse in the long-run.
My top three natural laxatives would be:
1. Lactulose – this is a non-absorbable sugar which works great as a stool softener & to speed up transit time. It also helps to restore microbiota balance and can even help heal leaky gut.
2. Magnesium – but for a laxative, you need to use the cheapest, crappiest (mind the pun, lol!) form of magnesium, such as magnesium oxide. Magnesium oxide is poorly absorbed (hence why it is so cheap, as it has little therapeutic properties), so it bulks up in the bowels, and hence, softens stool.
3. Good old Vitamin C can also be useful as a laxative. In some of my functional medicine protocols, I do use a very good blend of Vitamin C, and my clients always mention the positive side-effect of more regular pooing!
~ Filipa Bellette
Functional Medicine Practitioner