Medications Harming Your Digestive Health – Miralax

Medications Harming Your Digestive Health - Miralax

The Center for Disease Control reports that, on average, a doctor will see fifty patients each day. Each patient will average eight minutes with their doctor, and eighty-eight percent are prescribed medications.1 The patient leaves the doctor’s office, visits a nearby pharmacy and gets a prescription filled – often without consultation. Is eight minutes enough time to adequately research the risks and benefits of the medication, disseminate the data to the patient, and collectively evaluate whether that medication is the right choice? Whether we like it or not, that is the state of the United States health care system, and it puts a lot of pressure on doctors to spend less time with their patients and use psychological tactics, like intimidation, to slap a quick fix on their problems and send them on their way.

Miralax (Polyethylene Glycol)

Laxatives are drugs that loosen stools allowing them easily to pass through the colon for elimination. Laxatives can be taken in an oral form or taken as a suppository. They are usually safe if used for a short period, but if they become habitual, it weakens the muscularis mucosae (the muscles used to move the stool through the intestines) eventually resulting in intestinal paralysis, IBS, pancreatitis, or even renal failure.2 3 If laxatives are abused, the gut will be permanently damaged, and the intestines might have to be removed.4

Hyperosmotic laxatives work by allowing water to be retained in the colon, and they also can increase colonic peristalsis. This sometimes causes electrolyte imbalances (glycerin suppositories are usually the cause).5 Miralax (polyethylene glycol) is one of the most commonly prescribed hyperosmotic laxatives.

PEG, the active ingredient in Miralax, is a synthetic chemical (polyethylene glycol) that is believed to have low toxicity in humans.6 PEG is generally recognized as safe by the medical community, although it is known to cause bloating, nausea, gas, and diarrhea.7 PEG seems like a safe chemical, maybe even perfect for long-term laxative use if needed, right? Unfortunately, PEG medications have serious complications linked to their use including: 8

  • Nephrotoxicity9 10
  • Neuropsychiatric events11 12
  • Urticaria (allergic hives)13
  • Mallory-Weiss Tears14
  • Fecal Incontinence15

PEG was originally approved to be used for seven days at most, but it is now used daily for a lot of people (even in children). In 2009, an FDA drug safety board raised more concerns about its long-term use because PEG has not been studied in use for long-term treatment, or in large doses.16 I do not believe PEG should be used as often in people because there are better ways to relieve constipation including bulk producing agents, squatty potty, maintain proper hydration, and the use of magnesium. These are much safer for long term use.

At your next doctor’s visit, make sure to get the most out of your eight minutes. Do not let them fast-talk you and then push you out of the door! If a doctor gives you a prescription for Miralax, ask them about using magnesium malate or magnesium peroxide as a stool softener. They are associated with much less risk and will likely help your constipation issues.

Reglan is the next drug I will write about which is often prescribed freely for various intestinal issues.

  1. I have chronic hives and have taken miralax for 8 years. Please help

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