Stool softeners as the name suggests, are substances that increase the water-holding capacity of stools and increase the bulk of stool, which in turn stimulates bowel contractions and helps passage of stool out of the body. They are used to relieve problems of constipation and irregular bowel movements. Constipation is a condition in which the person's stool is hard, dry and difficult to evacuate from the body, resulting in irregular bowel movements.
Moreover, passing hard stool becomes painful and uncomfortable. People suffering from constipation have their food staying longer in the digestive tract. This results in production of toxins, which make their way into the bloodstream of the body. These toxins can trigger diseases like cataract, arthritis, colon cancer, appendicitis, etc. To prevent all these problems one should use stool softeners.
Best Stool Softeners Available
Stool softeners, unlike laxatives are not habit-forming and are used on short-term basis, till bowel movements are regularized. They only soften the stool and do not stimulate bowel movements. There are various natural stool softeners, as well as over-the-counter drugs to soften stool. Let's have a look!
Over-the-Counter Stool Softeners
Stool softeners come in tablet, liquid or capsule form. Most of the over-the-counter stool softeners, such as Colace, Doxinate, Modane Soft, Dialose, etc. have a drug called docusate in them. Docusate stops the colon from absorbing water from the stool, thereby, keeping the stool soft. The stool softener, Colace is the best stool softener for pregnancy. Since the active ingredients from the drug are not absorbed by the body, the fetus is not in any danger.
Mineral oil is among the best stool softeners available to us, as it lubricates stool and aids in its smooth passage, via the intestines. Since it increases lubrication, the stool can easily pass through the rectum and anus, without inflaming or irritating them. Just take one teaspoon of mineral oil before going to bed. Thus, mineral oil for constipation is an effective home remedy, however, it is not recommended for long-term use, as it conduces to various vitamin deficiencies.
For stool to pass properly through the bowels, fiber is needed. Fiber gives the stool its bulk and helps its movement through the intestines. When the fiber content is less, the stool has less bulk and becomes hard, dry and is more difficult to pass out. This leads to constipation, bloating and even rectal bleeding at times. Thus, it is important to consume high-fiber foods like fruits and vegetables. Including whole grains to the diet is also helpful. People with mild constipation problems can obtain relief just by consuming a high-fiber diet. Moreover, this a good stool softener for children.
People suffering from constipation should drink more water, because the higher the water content in the body, the more moisture content one's stool will have, thereby resulting in softer stool. Add some barley leaves to water and boil. Drink this concoction every 3 hours, to obtain relief from constipation problems.
Aloe Vera Juice
Aloe vera juice comprises anthraquinone and other glycosides, which are active components known for stimulating bowel movements and intestinal contractions. One needs to drink half cup of aloe vera juice, twice a day, at an interval of 10 hours to benefit from its stool softening effects.
Stool softeners are safe, however, they should be taken only once in a while. Moreover, one should also be aware of the different side effect ssuch as cramps, throat irritation, diarrhea, allergies, etc. that can occur after taking some over-the-counter stool softeners. Even the best stool softeners in the drug stores have side effects, thus, it is always important to consult your health care provider before taking any over-the-counter stool softeners.