Natural laxatives are derivatives of herbs or plants that promote bowel movement to relieve constipation. There are many natural laxatives on the market. However, the focus here is on aloe vera leaf and cascara sagrada bark, which we carry here at AllStarHealth.com. Aloe vera leaf laxatives contain aloe latex, which is extracted from the inner leaf skin of the aloe vera plant. Usually combined with other, gentler herbal laxatives, aloe vera is very potent and generally only safe for short-term use for relief of constipation. Cascara sagrada (“sacred bark” in Spanish) is made from the bark of a tree native to the Pacific Northwest. It is very mild and often combined with stronger herbal laxatives. It is important that cascara sagrada bark is aged very carefully, as fresh bark can cause gastrointestinal distress. Cascara sagrada is recognized by the FDA as being a safe and effective laxative.
Health Benefits of Laxatives
Herbal laxatives can be used for short-term relief of constipation.
Aloe vera leaf and cascara sagrada may be used for the short-term relief of constipation. Discuss treatment options of chronic constipation with your physician. Begin with a low dose, and use as directed. Do not use laxatives continuously for more than two weeks (habitual use of certain laxatives may cause dependence).
Side-effects and Cautions:
Prolonged use of any laxative may cause excessive mineral and nutrient loss, most notably loss of potassium (essential for proper heart function). Laxatives may increase the effect of digitalis drugs, causing heart beat abnormalities. Consult your physician before using laxatives if you are using any other drug that reduces potassium levels, such as a diuretic. Avoid taking aloe vera leaf while pregnant or menstruating, as it may cause uterine contractions. Aloe vera leaf should not be taken by children or elderly individuals; cascara sagrada is safe for use by the elderly. Laxatives should not be taken by individuals with intestinal obstructions, inflammatory bowel diseases, appendicitis or undiagnosed abdominal pain (except under strict physician supervision).