Laxatives should not be the first course of treatment if you suffer from constipation. It is recommended to initially try and increase your water and fibre intake with the help from a diet containing gluten free fibre. For suggestions on how to incorporate fibre into your daily diet please read dietary fibre in a gluten free diet. If after increasing the fibre intake into the diet and constipation is still a problem, then there may be a need to try a gluten free laxative.
Not all laxatives are gluten free and the same precautions need to be taken regarding ingredients in the laxative product as you do for food ingredients. The same rules apply to declaring gluten in medicines as for food products. Laxatives are not designed for long term use and it is advised to avoid them were possible.
There are two types of commonly used laxatives available to purchase over the counter. They are referred to as “Bulk forming laxatives” or “Stimulant laxatives”.
Bulk forming laxatives are designed to add bulk and water to the stool making it easy to pass and are generally considered the safest option. Examples of a bulk forming laxatives are; Normafibe FibreCon - (Polycarbophil), and Metamucil -(psyllium). Psyllium is a common ingredient in many laxatives purchased over the counter as it is high in fibre and mucilage. This helps keep the faeces soft and hydrated if taken with enough water.
Stimulant laxatives can be considered more powerful providing overnight relief. Stimulant laxatives cause the bowel to squeeze or contract to move the stools and should not be used for more than a couple of days. Example is Senokot,-(Senna plant).
Obviously there are medicated laxatives, such as enemas that can provided only on script after discussing the problem with your Doctor. It is very important to recognize the difference in the products and understanding why you are taking them. It is always recommended to seek advise from you Doctor before taking any of these products, especially if you are using them frequently. The reason for this is, not just the fact that you may be having daily problems passing your stools and the associated problems this may cause (constipation, hemorrhoids, fissures etc), some laxatives can also affect how your medications are absorbed.