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What are bulk-forming laxatives?

Lawrence S. Friedman, MD
Gastroenterology
Bulk forming agents are fiber-based laxatives that take a day or so to work but are very effective and safe to take indefinitely on a daily basis to ease the passage of stool through the rectum when treating constipation. Take with plenty of liquid.
  • bran (in food and supplements)
  • calcium polycarbophil (e.g., FiberCon)
  • methylcellulose (Citrucel and others)
  • psyllium (Metamucil and other brands)
Bulk-forming laxatives, or fiber supplements, are the gentlest form of laxative. They help to produce a bowel movement by absorbing water into your stool to form a soft, bulky mass. This causes your intestines to contract and push out the stool. Laxatives can be used orally or through the rectum and come in liquid, tablet, wafer, gum, powder, suppository, or enema form. Brand names for oral bulk-formers include Citrucel and Metamucil.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.