Dr. Schulze’s Intestinal Formula #1
Good for: Occasional constipation
Because: This product packs a virtual who’s who of the herbal laxative world, with two varieties of aloe leaf extracts as its top ingredients, followed closely by senna leaf and cascara sagrada, two lesser-known bowel-movement helpers.
Aloe, although best known as an external salve, has a long history as a laxative, too. Plant compounds in aloe stimulate the inner lining of the colon, upping what experts aptly call the gut’s “transit time.” While supplements containing aloe, such as Dr. Schulze’s Intestinal Formula #1, definitely get the job done, it’s important to use them cautiously and to follow their directions to the letter. Overdoing any laxative can lead to diarrhea and dehydration.
How to: Follow the directions on the label exactly, building dosage a capsule at a time until the desired effect is achieved. Not for daily use. See package for other contraindications.
Tip: Aloe works, in part, by slightly irritating the gut, thereby loosening stuck material and encouraging the lower bowel to move, so steer clear of aloe products if you have an inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s. Also avoid taking this product if you will be far from a bathroom, since the need to eliminate can come on suddenly.
Stocking your medicine cabinet with natural cures is a safe, practical way to prepare for life’s little accidents, infections and intermittent health challenges. It’s important to choose products you feel comfortable with, though, and it’s fine to steer clear of any products whose claims seem overblown, or whose ingredients give you pause.
While you’re experimenting, continue stocking those tried-and-true conventional remedies that give you both good results and peace of mind. Over time, you’ll discover which new natural favorites complement your cache of conventional standards, and which of them might eventually take their place.
And if reaching for plant-based remedies feels a little strange at first, take comfort in the fact that many modern pharmaceuticals still depend on natural ingredients as a basis for their formulations. “Plant-based remedies got our ancestors through centuries of coughs, colds and infections,” says Blumenthal. And they are still doing that same job today.