By Dr. Shrey Lakhotia, BDS
Mineral oil for constipation
Constipation affects the day-to-day functioning of a person, limiting his or her productivity.
While there are many ways to fight constipation, mineral oil is simple to find and can be effective. Mineral oil is a Lubricant laxative.
Chemically, it is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons derived from crude petroleum. Both mineral oil and stool softeners are helpful for those who should not strain during defecation, including those who have just had a baby, had a heart attack, or have just had surgery on hemorrhoids or to repair a hernia.
The Laxative effect of mineral oil may occur as early as 6–8 hours after oral administration. Mineral oil works by adding a slick layer to intestinal walls. The oil also coats the stool, making it more slick and therefore easier to pass through the colon. It lubricates fecal material and the lining of the intestinal mucosa.
Mineral oil appears to retard absorption of water from the intestinal tract by coating over receptors in the intestinal lining. This results in increased water retention, which in turn increases the bulk of stool, hastening evacuation.
Those on blood thinners should avoid taking mineral oil, since it hinders the utilization of vitamin K, and vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting. Less vitamin K absorption might cause the blood to become too thin, which might cause wounds to bleed excessively.
If mineral oil manages to seep into the lungs it may lead to pneumonia, and should not be taken by an individual that is just going to bed.
Various groups of people have a tendency to aspirate, especially when laying down. This includes those who find it hard to swallow, those who have had a stroke, older individuals and young children.
Taking mineral oil for constipation should only be done for a limited amount of time. When mineral oil is taken for an extended amount of time, too much will be absorbed by the body, with detrimental consequences.
In light of the above discussion, it can be concluded that mineral oil is not safe for long term use.
Moreover it should not be taken by certain age groups.
Magnesium emerges as a better choice when treating constipation. A nutritional supplement containing magnesium may offer an effective, long-term solution, as it may be taken daily for an indefinite period of time.
Note: Magnesium may interfere with the body's ability to utilize medications. Those with kidney disease may have difficulty in urinating out any excessive amount of magnesium, which can result in a magnesium toxicity. Therefore, ask your doctor before starting a daily magnesium supplement.