What are bulk-forming laxatives?

Lawrence S. Friedman, MD
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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