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3 Main Differences Between Colon Cleanses and Laxatives

3 Main Differences Between Colon Cleanses and Laxatives 3 Main Differences Between Colon Cleanses and Laxatives

Do you struggle with constipation? Wish there was a way to keep your bowel movements regular? In a perfect world, your body is primed to be a lean, mean, clean-out machine when it comes to removing waste from your colon and preventing constipation.

But dealing with stress from work, the kids, and just everyday life can put a strain on our bodies that makes staying regular a challenge. When constipation rears its ugly head, you're typically left with one of two choices for some relief: laxatives and colon cleansers.

What are the differences between the two? And which one should you go with? Read on as we break down the colon cleansers vs. laxatives debate, including some natural ways to clear out your colon.

What Are Laxatives?

Laxatives are over-the-counter medications you can take that help loosen your stool and encourage bowel movements. They'll clean you out all right. You may have seen it in the movies (or unfortunately, you might've experienced this first-hand) but taking laxatives can make you poop uncontrollably and lead to frequent visits to the restroom, which can be pretty annoying.

You'll find most laxatives in either tablet, capsule, or powder form. Some popular laxatives you might've heard of include Dulcolax, Colace, and Milk of Magnesia.

What Are Colon Cleansers?

Similar to laxatives, colon cleansers also provide relief from constipation. However, colon cleansers are designed to clean out the entire digestive tract (not just your colon), which can provide a multitude of health benefits. They aren't known for having the “repeated trips to the bathroom” effect that laxatives do.

Instead, colon cleansers give a little nudge to your bowels that promotes consistent regularity and keeps things moving forward. A thorough colon cleanse may also involve many steps that can be achieved over an extended length of time.

Colon Cleanse vs. Laxatives: How Are They Different?

There are three primary differences when it comes to colon cleansers vs. laxatives. Let's take a look below.

1. Colon cleanses impact your entire digestive system

Both laxatives and colon cleansers can help relieve constipation. However, while laxatives clean out just your colon, colon cleanses take things one step further by eliminating waste from your whole digestive tract. Considering the fact your digestive tract involves a lot more than just your colon, this tidbit of information makes a huge difference when analyzing colon cleansers vs. laxatives.

2. Laxatives may be better for quick constipation relief

Sometimes, you just don't have time for natural stool softeners to run their course through your digestive system. So, if your constipation isn't a frequent issue, going with a laxative over a colon cleanser may be your best bet for fast relief.

It's worth pointing out that there are different types of laxatives you can take:

  • Bulk-forming laxatives make for a bulky stool that's more liquidy, which helps ease the strain of passing it through your digestive tract.
  • Osmotic laxatives recruit your body's tissue to generate water that softens your stool.
  • Stimulant laxatives encourage the intestines to push your bowel movement through.
  • Stool softeners are considered a more mild type of laxative. Stool softeners call on water from the intestines to soften your stool and make it easier to pass.
  • Lubricants dress your intestinal wall and stool in an oily layer, which prevents your stool from hardening and drying out. This makes it easier to pass through your digestive tract.

3. Laxatives can present bowel issues and other health problems

What's Newton's third law of motion? That for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction. Point #2 was that laxatives may be better for the occasional constipation relief. But similar to Newton's third law, that doesn't come without a tradeoff.

The most common side effect you've probably heard about with laxatives is diarrhea. They can keep you on the toilet or running to it for quite a bit. If you rely on laxatives too much for constipation relief and overuse them, it can lead to symptoms like gas and bloating, and potentially even more serious health issues.

Other negative side effects to look out for with frequent laxative use include:

  • Damage to the nerve cells and muscles in your colon
  • Dehydration
  • Throwing your electrolyte and mineral balances out of whack
  • Issues with your kidney and liver

Thinking of trying a laxative to lose weight? It's best to consider other options. Using laxatives for weight loss is extremely dangerous and has many negative consequences for your health.

If weight loss is the goal and you want to do so quickly, start incorporating more fiber into your diet. Not only is fiber a constipation relief hack, but it keeps you fuller for longer, which can prevent overeating and aid in weight loss.

Natural Ways to Clean Your Colon

Some of the best constipation relievers for cleaning you out come from natural foods, particularly foods high in fiber. Prunes, raisins, apples, pears, kiwi, leafy greens like spinach and broccoli, chia seeds, flax seeds, oat bran, whole grain rye bread, and beans are all great examples of fiber-rich foods that can help you maintain bowel movement regularity.

Probiotic supplements are also another great option to reduce and prevent constipation. They work to soften your stool, enhance the digestion process, and help you have more complete bowel movements. Research shows that probiotics with strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria are especially efficient at this.

The Bottom Line on Laxatives vs. Colon Cleanses

Laxatives may be good for the occasional bout of constipation. But if you've been struggling with constipation for a while, you might want to consider a plan for clearing out your entire digestive tract—one that's formulated to keep your bowels healthy and regular without the high risk of negative side effects.

To that point, the best colon cleanses will also improve digestion and increase the number of healthy bacteria in your gut. Because gut health is the secret to whole health!

Floré Custom Probiotics are designed to support a healthy gut and help with issues like constipation, bloating, leaky gut, and more. Everyone's gut is unique and these aren't your generic, run-of-the-mill probiotics. Instead, we analyze the trillions of microbes in your gut microflora to come up with a customized probiotic formula that's suited to your individual gut health needs. You take just one-pill-a-day that's shipped right to your door!

Click on the picture below to check out our personalized probiotics and gut microflora test program!

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About the Author

Chad Richardson is a freelance writer from Cincinnati, OH who also enjoys going to the gym and doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation, scrolling through Netflix trying to find a new binge-worthy show, and catching a game to root on his hometown sports teams.

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