Supplement

How it works

Dose

Notes

Psyllium seed husks
(Plantago ovata)

A high-fiber laxative, these keep feces soft and help gently scrape the colon clean.

1 teaspoon, 3x/day

Take with 16 to 32 ounces of water and possibly another mild herbal laxative to keep the fiber moving through your system. People with bowel obstructions or diabetes should not use psyllium. May cause increased gas.

Cascara sagrada
(Rhamnus purshiana)

A natural laxative made from buckthorn tree bark, this herb contains cascarosides that can stimulate contractions in the large intestine, leading to softer, quicker bowel movements.

20–30 mg of cascarosides/day or 1 teaspoon liquid extract, 3x/day

Long-term use can cause weakened bowel function and dependency; do not take continuously for more than eight to ten days.

Rhubarb
(Rheum palmatum)

Not to be confused with table rhubarb, the dried roots of this rhubarb variety can act as a powerful laxative, stimulating heightened fluid secretions into the bowel.

1/4–1/2 teaspoon liquid extract/day

Long-term use can cause weakened bowel function and dependency; do not take continuously for more than eight to ten days. People with inflammatory bowel disease, unexplained abdominal pain, and intestinal scarring or obstruction should avoid rhubarb.

Magnesium citrate

Also known as milk of magnesia, it can act as a laxative by stimulating fluid secretions in the bowel.

200–1,000 mg/day

Long-term use can cause weakened bowel function and dependency; do not take continuously for more than eight to ten days.

—J.W.

Note: Consult with your physician before taking any of these supplements or herbs.
Sources: Keith F. Zeitlin, ND; www.evitamins.com; www.PDRHealth.com; www.wholehealthmd.com.