What was the earliest laxative

Macrogol

This is how macrogol works

Mechanism of action

In certain circumstances, digestion can be impaired. A slow intestinal passage can be caused, for example, by poor diet, lack of exercise and occasionally also by the use of certain medications (for example strong painkillers from the group of opioids). Constipation can also occur with certain diseases (such as multiple sclerosis). In the short term, laxatives can then be used to facilitate defecation.

Macrogol, also known as polyethylene glycol, is a synthetic substance that binds water. If macrogol is taken by mouth (orally), the substance binds the water present in the intestine and prevents it from being absorbed into the blood via the intestine. The intestinal volume is thus artificially increased, causing the bowel movement to reflexively increase. At the same time, the increased water content makes the stool softer, which also makes it easier to pass.

Macrogol uptake, breakdown and excretion

The active ingredient is not absorbed from the intestine into the blood, but excreted unchanged in the stool.

When is macrogol used?

Macrogol is a highly effective laxative and is used for intestinal cleansing before intestinal examinations and surgical interventions in the gastrointestinal tract. It is also used to treat constipation and problems with passing stool.

Indicated (“indicated”) is the short-term use of laxatives, for example in women shortly after childbirth or in patients who have had an operation on the abdominal wall and therefore experience pain when tensing the abdominal muscles. Long-term use is only recommended in special cases such as paraplegics and patients who take strong pain relievers (opioids). Here it is advisable to switch to combination products that contain macrogol as well as salts (electrolytes). In this way you can prevent an impending electrolyte deficiency to a certain extent.

Regular use of laxatives such as macrogol without a medical examination is strongly discouraged. A long-term constipation should always be clarified by a doctor in order to rule out possible pathological causes.

This is how macrogol is used

Macrogol is mostly used as a powder to make a solution. The contents of the macrogol bags are stirred into water and drunk.

For a complete colon cleansing before medical interventions, between three and four liters of macrogol solution must usually be drunk (according to the doctor's instructions). For a slight laxative effect in the case of temporary constipation, significantly smaller amounts are required.

What are the side effects of macrogol?

Macrogol often causes side effects such as gastrointestinal problems, i.e. in one to ten percent of those treated.

In the event of an overdose of the laxative, severe diarrhea is to be expected, which can lead to severe electrolyte losses. Even with long-term use of laxatives, there is constant loss of electrolyte. This gives the body the impression that the food is passing through the intestines too quickly. As a countermeasure, it slows down the gastrointestinal movement even further. This fatal regulation also promotes the existing constipation. Many patients then take even more laxatives - the vicious circle intensifies.

What should be considered when taking macrogol?

Contraindications

Macrogol must not be used for intestinal obstruction, gastrointestinal bleeding, cardiac and kidney dysfunction, liver disease and dehydration of the body.

Interactions

Elderly patients, patients with inflammatory bowel disease and cardiac arrhythmias should use macrogol drugs with caution, preferably only under medical supervision.

pregnancy and breast feeding period

So far, there are insufficient data on the use of macrogol during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Since the active ingredient is practically not absorbed from the intestines into the bloodstream, experts assume that it can be used throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding if bulking agents such as flaxseed and flea seeds are not effective.

Age restrictions

Macrogol must not be used in children as there is insufficient data on this.

Author & source information