The term ‘bowel movement’ signifies the action of passing stool. Therefore, if a person is not able to experience adequate bowel movement, then he or she is said to be suffering from constipation.
Now, certain types of food or drugs can promote bowel movement mainly by loosening the stool or by allowing the contraction in the intestinal muscles to mobilize the solid waste towards the anal opening for extraction. Such a bowel voiding substance is termed as a purgative.
General Information On Purgatives
Purgative otherwise referred to as laxative or aperients can be a food, herbal extract, fluid, chemical compound or drug that you can take to loosen the stool. While a purgative medicine may be taken once in a while by an individual who is experiencing problems in passing stool, general food with purgative properties should be consumed on a daily basis in order to keep one’s bowel movement normalized.
Role, Working And Benefits Of Purgatives
The primary benefit of taking a purgative medication is for providing relief from constipation. Based on their manner of working, purgatives can be of different types. Some of the more prominent ones are described below along with their respective benefits:
Bulk-Forming Laxative: Deemed safe for long term use, these common laxatives are high in fiber content and work by increasing the overall mass of the stool while keeping it soft, so as to aid in bowel movement. The results are generally seen within 12 hours but in some it may even take 2-3 days.
Stool Softeners: Available in pill as well as liquid form, this class of purgative contains chemicals that add moisture to the stool. As such, stool softeners are especially helpful if you are suffering from constipation caused due to hardened stool. Considered safe for elderly as well as pregnant patients, the bowel relieving results of the purgative could take anywhere between 1-5 days to kick in.
Lubricant Laxative: Similar in action to stool softeners, these laxatives include the likes of mineral oil. Consumed orally, the purgative provides the stool with a water-proof coating, thereby softening it and promoting bowel movement within 6-8 hours.
Enemas: Administered via the rectum, enemas contain a mixture of cream and fluid for stimulating contractions. They provide quick relief from constipation and are used in hospitals prior to operations on the digestive tract.
Natural purgatives primarily play a role in regulating bowel movements, and while some can be used for treating constipation, the relief effects will not be immediate as seen with laxative drugs. Different types of natural purgatives include:
Foods Rich In Dietary Fiber: These include the likes of whole grains, vegetables (both raw as well as green leafy ones), prunes, legumes, beans, peas, raisins and all such foods that are high on dietary fiber. Fiber cannot be processed by the body, but it does manage to increase the overall bulk of the solid waste while making it softer, thereby regularizing bowel movements.
Fluids: Water, coconut water and citric juices are fantastic laxatives that soften the stool. Water is perhaps the best of them all, given that it is readily available. Upon intake, the fluid effectively gathers wastes from different parts of the digestive system and guides them through for discharge in the form of stool. Similarly, coconut water cools the belly and softens hard stool for easy purging.
Aloe Vera And Omega-3 Oils: When the dried latex derived from the inner lining of aloe vera leaf is consumed orally, it acts as a natural form of lubricant laxative, and therefore promotes bowel voiding. Oils derived from olives, flax seeds and avocado also work in a similar manner when consumed in small amounts by mixing with citric juices.