Stimulant laxatives available in the UK are bisacodyl (eg Dulcolax), senna (eg Senokot) and sodium picosulfate (eg Dulcolax Pico).(1) They make up one class of laxatives that can be used to treat constipation. Other classes include bulk-forming laxatives, osmotic laxatives and stool softeners.(1) Each class of laxative has a different mechanism of action and various considerations that need to be taken into account when determining the most appropriate treatment for constipation.
How do stimulant laxatives work?
Stimulant laxatives pass through the small intestine to the large intestine, where they are converted to active forms. Bisacodyl is converted by hydrolysis, while sodium picosulfate and senna are converted by bacteria.(2-4)
Laxatives exert their effect through two different mechanisms: stimulation of the mucosa of the large intestine and