8 Best Natural Laxatives

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Using natural laxatives is a popular option for many people who are struggling with constipation, and fortunately, there are many options to choose from.

What are Natural Laxatives?

Natural laxatives are foods, spices, and supplements that can stimulate and speed up the digestive process, helping to clear the bowels and relieve symptoms of blockage and constipation. While millions of people use over-the-counter laxatives and prescription medications to solve this uncomfortable problem, those solutions can also have negative side effects, including emergency runs to the bathroom, dizziness, low blood pressure, and cramps, among others. Natural laxatives, on the other hand, have more of a mild laxative effect. They normalize your digestive process and keep your bowels moving naturally, without eliciting such a severe response from the body. [1]

Many of these dietary laxatives also offer rich sources of nutrients, vitamins, fiber, protein, and antioxidants, so aside from relieving constipation, they can also help boost other areas of your health.

Types of Laxatives

Cut apples kept next to a basket and whole apples, atop a wooden platform

The pectin in apples can help to stimulate your bowels. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

There are a few main types of non-natural laxatives, including stool softeners, stimulant laxatives, bulk-forming laxatives, and osmotic laxatives, among others.

Stool Softeners

These laxatives are able to make stools slightly slippery, often through the inclusion of oils, which can lubricate the intestinal walls and induce excretion.


These basic laxatives can help to add bulk to your stool, which tends to speed up the transit time through the gut.


When you have a proper amount of fluid in the intestines, digestion is much easier, so these laxatives cause liquid to be drawn into the gut.


These very common laxatives cause the muscles of the intestine to contract – artificial peristaltic motion – and additionally hydrate the intestines.

How Do Natural Laxatives Work?

Natural laxatives work by bulking up the food in the gut, stimulating peristaltic motion so that bowel movements can pass, thereby relieving inflammation in the small intestine so that digestion can occur normally. It is recommended that people go to the bathroom at least three times per week, although numbers may vary, and constipation symptoms may still occur, even if you are going three times each week. Adding natural laxatives to your diet can improve these symptoms in a gradual and healthy way.

Natural Laxatives

The best natural laxatives include apples, olive oil, aloe vera, water, prunes, flaxseeds, coffee, kefir, leafy greens, castor oil, and berries, among others.


High in pectin, these popular fruits can bulk up stool and stimulate peristaltic motion. [2]

Olive Oil

Working as a stool softener, olive oil can make it easier for bowel movements to traverse the gut and be expelled. [3]

Aloe Vera

Some of the active ingredients and enzymes in aloe vera act as mild laxatives that soften stool and speed bowel movements. [4]


Without water, your body will struggle to move your bowels, so be sure to drink at least 8 glasses per day if you’re constipated. [5]


High in dietary fiber, prunes can bulk up your food and eliminate inflammation in the gut, while also boosting the health of beneficial bacteria. [6]


All seeds are rich in dietary fiber, minerals, and other nutrients, but flax seeds are particularly effective as laxatives. [7]


Being rich in dietary fiber and antioxidants, berries can be used during colon cleanses and will stimulate faster digestion. [8]

Castor Oil

This is a stimulant laxative, albeit a natural one, that can trigger peristaltic motion in the intestines.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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