Laxatives (purgatives, aperients) are foods, compounds, or drugs taken to induce bowel movements or to loosen the stool, most often taken to treat constipation. Certain stimulant, lubricant, and saline laxatives are used to evacuate the colon for rectal and/or bowel examinations, and may be supplemented by enemas under certain circumstances. Sufficiently high doses of laxatives cause diarrhea. Laxatives work to increase the movement of fecal matter along the colon.
Some laxatives combine more than one active ingredient to produce a combination of the effects. Laxatives may be oral or in suppository form.
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