List of available over the counter laxative drugs in Nigeria, Stool softener drugs in Nigeria

Constipation is becoming a major health challenge in Nigeria as evidenced from the following google queries by Nigerians:

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‘Common laxatives in Nigeria”.

“Names of stool softener drugs in Nigeria”

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A useful definition of constipation is the passage of hard stools less frequently than the person’s own normal pattern.

Laxatives are of value in drug-induced constipation (from opoids), for the expulsion of parasites after antihelminthic treatment and to clear the alimentary tract before surgery and radiological procedures.

There are many different laxatives.

These include:

1. Bulk-forming laxatives: which relieve constipation by increasing mass and stimulating peristalsis.

2. Stimulant laxatives: which increase intestinal motility and often cause abdominal cramps.

3. Stool softeners: which lubricate and soften hard stools and impacted faeces.

4. Osmotic Laxatives: which act by retaining fluid in the bowel by osmosis.

Bowel cleansing solutions are used before colonic surgery , colonoscopy or radiological examination to ensure that the bowel is free of solid contents, they are NOT a treatment for constipation.

List of available over the counter laxative drugs in Nigeria.


An over-the-counter stimulant laxative. Bisacodyl is available under the following different brand names: Dulcolax, Correctol, BisacEvac, Bisacolax, Codulax, Alophen, Feen A Mint, Fleet Stimulant Laxative, Laxit, and Modane. It works by increasing the movement of the intestines, helping the stool to come out easily.
Bisacodyl should not be used in children, pregnancy, and in persons with abdominal pain.

SIDE EFECTS OF BISACODYL: Mild abdominal cramps, nausea, vomitting, rectal burning, vertigo, electrolyte ans fluid imbalance.

Laxative drugs in Nigeria
Bisacodyl (dulcolax) is the commonest over the counter laxative sold in Nigeria


Senna is a stimulant laxative. According to Wikipedia, Senna glycoside, also known as sennoside or senna, is a medication used to treat constipation and empty the large intestine before surgery. The medication is taken by mouth or via the rectum. It typically begins working in minutes when given by rectum and within twelve hours when given by mouth. It should be used by breastfeeding mothers and in cases of suspected appendicitis.

SIDE EFFECTS: Abdominal discomfort, hylokalaemia (with prolonged use and overdosage)


Liquid paraffin is a mineral oil which is minimally aobsorbed by the gastrointestinal tract. It is a lubricant laxative. It mixes with and coats the intestinal contents, preventing colonic reabsorption of fecal water and increasing water retention in the stool. This leads to the formation of soft oily feaces. The onset of action of liquid paraffin is 6 – 8 hours. It is indicated in treating constipation.

PRECAUTIONS: Do not use in elderly or delibilitated persons (due to susceptibility to lipid pneumonitis through aspiration, absorption and transport from intestinal mucosa);in children, and persons with rectal bleeding.

SIDE EFFECTS: Nausea, vomitting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps and decreased absorption of nitrients and fat soluble vitamins.


COMMON NAMES: Milk of Magnesia, Magnesia Magma, Dr Meyer’s of Magnesia.

Magnexium hydroxide is used for the short term treatment of occasional constipation and symproms of hyperacidity (heartburns and indigestion). It is a saline laxative and antacid.

It promotes bowel evacuation by causing osmotic retention of fluid which distends the colon with increased peristaltic reacts with hydrochloric acid to form magnesium chloride thereby neutralizing its acidity.

Milk of magnesia should not be used to treat constipation in elderly persons and in patients with kidney impairment. Do not also use in colostomy, ileostomy, intestinal obstruction, fecal impaction, and appendicitis.


OTHER NAMES: Epsom salts

Magnesium Sulfate is a saline laxative and antacids. When taken by mouth in dilute solution it reduces the normal absorption of water from the intestine with result that the bulky fluid contents distend the bowel, active reflex perstalsis is excited, and evacuation of the contents of the intestine.

It should not be used in elderly persons or in patients with hepatic and renal impairment.

PS: Laxatives abuse can cause low potassium (hypokalaemia) and should be avoided except where straining will exacerbate a condition such as angina or increase the risk of rectal bleeding as in hemorrhoids. Laxatives should not be used to treat constipation caused by intestinal obstruction.

CAVEAT: This article is for your education and not a substitute to seeing a doctor for proper medical evaluation and care…DO NOT ABUSE LAXATIVES FOR ANY REASON. PLEASE DO NOT USE LAXATIVES FOR WEIGHT LOSS.

CREDIT: EMDEX (The Complete Drug Formulary For Nigeria’s Health Professionals)


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