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What can I take to get my bowels moving without agony?

Please, I need your help. For 50 years, since the age of 11, I had IBS-D, severely at times. Once I lost 70 lbs. because I could not retain food in my intestines. I went to many gastroenterologists and underwent many hospital and laboratory tests.

Finally, about 20 years ago, one very famous New York gastroenterologist told me to take 6 Imodium (loperamide) every night and a large tablespoon of psyllium powder in the morning. That worked! However, during the past year or so, my IBS has morphed into IBS-C! My doctor has told me that this switch has occurred because of all the years of taking Imodium. About two weeks ago, I had a terrible bout of IBS-C and could not defecate for 6 days. So, I took Senokot-F (SENOSIDOS A-D). The box said that it is a Natural Laxative, Easy on the Stomach and that I will wake up feeling well. Well, my experience was horrible! After taking the pill before bed, I awoke at about 1:00 AM in great pain. The pains continued until at about 3:00 AM when I was able to begin evacuating my bowels. The stools were very hard and dry. For about 8 hours I was literally screaming in pain, until finally, my system unplugged itself, with a very large stool, and then I had just pure diarrhea for several hours. Now again, I am in the same situation: I haven’t had a bowel movement in 6 days. I did not want to go through the same agony I went through with the Senokot-F, so I figured I needed something that worked more strongly and quickly. The pharmacist gave me something called “Anara”. I live in Mexico. “Anara” is Sodium Picosulfate. Wikipedia says that Sodium Picosulfate is a contact stimulant laxative used as a treatment for constipation or to prepare the large bowel before colonoscopy or surgery. According to the directions on the box, I took 2 (5 mg) pills the night before last. Nothing happened! According to the “Anara” box, it says that if the patient does not experience results, s/he can take another 2 pills 12-24 hours later. Which I did, about 4:00 PM yesterday. Now it is 6:12 AM and still nothing has happened. I am at my wits end! Should I go back to the Senokot-F? I dread to think about going through that agonizing pain again. Is there a third option I can try? Enema? Suppository? I know that you are not doctors. I am only asking for non-professional friendly support advice. I’ve been drinking plenty of water and eating prunes. Every day I drink two yogurts with Lactobacillus. I even am drinking several cups of coffee and eating lots of fruit (which used to be huge IBS-D triggers for me) in order to begin to move my bowels! Thank you so much for reading this and your suggestions.

  1. Hi Valsage, I'm sorry you've been suffering so much recently! I struggle with IBS-C (25-plus years), and there are a few things I personally do that really seem to help me to ease my constipation symptoms: Hot yoga (3-4 days a week), the low FODMAP diet (I follow it about 80 percent of the time), and probioticss. In addition, I take a daily magnesium drink called CALM to help restore my calcium and magnesium levels. It's promoted as an anti-stress drink, but it also helps to gently loosen the bowels (key word is "gentle" -- I have had the same results you describe while taking Senekot...unable to leave the house after taking it because the effects were so strong and I never knew how long it would take to start working). In the US, this product can be purchased at most drugstores, vitamin shops, grocery stores, and online. My doctor recommended it for me, and it's worked better than any other product I've tried. Hopefully you can find it in Mexico, too. If you can't find this brand, I'm sure you can find other magnesium drinks -- your doctor may be able to recommend a different brand for you. This one just happens to be my favorite. I really like the raspberry lemon flavor, and I take it at night because it does have a calming, relaxing effect, and usually I am able to go the next morning. If you decide to give it a try, please let us know how it works for you. I'm also curious to know if you can purchase it where you live.

    Good luck!

    Becky, team member

    1. Thanks so much, Becky! I really appreciate your answering my question. I have been taking magnesium tablets and they haven't made any noticeable difference, but it sounds like the drink you recommend may be the answer. I am sure they have some version of it here in Mexico. We have quite a huge selection of pharmacies (one in particular only sells generic versions of popular medicines), however, they are all quite strict when it comes to things that need a prescription. To obtain a controlled substance one often needs a special prescription with 5 carbon copies, stamped with the seal of the government, and with the name of the doctor, the school s/he went to, his/her official Medical Doctor Number, and signature. CALM does not sound like it needs a prescription. I will go look for it today. I'll let you know if I can find it in the various pharmacy chains. Hot Yoga sounds very interesting; I have never heard of it. I practice Pranayama Yoga to calm me when I am anxious, or if I am having an IBS attack. However, as I am sure you know, sometimes the pain can be so great that I cannot even focus on doing simple breathing practices. I am already taking Probiotics daily. I will investigate Hot Yoga. Again, I appreciate your writing!

  2. I have IBS-mixed type, so I can have a variety of stool types even during one bathroom visit. Any time I become significantly constipated, my gastroenterologist has me take Miralax dissolved in Gatorade. It's like doing a bowel prep for a colonoscopy except that I do not take any Dulcolax pills to stimulate the colon because that would be too painful. This combination works very well for me, but I must be in close proximity to the bathroom for at least 12 hours.

    The first time I had to do this, I had not realized I was so constipated. I felt sick and had fatigue and headaches. I had not been able to eat solid food or go to work for two days. On the third day, I had 23 bowel movements--without having taken any kind of laxative. The gastroenterologist on call sent me for abdominal X-rays and all three sections of my colon were still moderately full. So then I was told to take the Miralax in Gatorade. That resulted in another 22 bowel movements over two days. But it's my go-to because I don't feel sick or pain when using it once in a while.

    1. Thanks, jaeger91. I will look for Miralax. I found it on Google. It says that the main ingredient is Polyethylene Glycol 3350. My goodness, isn't that antifreeze? Oh no, that's Propylene Glycol. I am sure if they don't have Miralax here in Mexico, they will have a generic version. It sounds like Miralax can help me a great deal and without all the pain. Thank you for telling me about it, along with the Gatorade. I can relate a bit to what you are saying about all your bowel movements and the medical tests. I had to swallow a large unpalatable "milkshake" of barium in order for him to "see" my intestines. The radiologist had me drink the whole thing and then brought me to a small room to wait until I needed the bathroom. He was stunned when after, at most, a minute I hurried back into his x-ray room to tell him that it has already passed through me! I was taking the test because I had lost 70 lbs. from IBS-D and could not keep anything in my "stomach". Thanks again.

  3. Good luck, Valsage. It's a good idea to check with your doctor first because it is a form of bowel prep (without having to follow a restrictive diet). The instructions I follow were given to me by my GI and are easily found on medical clinic sites online when you search "Miralax and Gatorade." I usually start producing bowel movements about 60-90 minutes after beginning to drink the solution, and I spend the day in and out of the bathroom. I hope you find the relief you need.

    1. You are so welcome, Valsage. I really hope it helps! Hopefully you won't need a prescription for CALM. I found that starting with a small amount (roughly 1/2 teaspoon) and working my way up (roughly 2 tablespoons) helped my body to adjust, and I avoided the awful pain that was almost predictable with the use of laxatives. I do hope you'll give hot yoga a try -- and yes, I completely understand getting sideswiped by the pain while trying to breathe during yoga practice. Please let us know how both of these things work for you!

      Becky, team member

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