Laxatives: A Review of Their Mechanisms of Action

  • Paul Bass
  • Deborah A. Fox
Part of the NATO ASI Series book series (volume 80)


Laxatives are a heterogeneous group of drugs used to increase the frequency of bowel movements. They have been associated with two distinct effects on the gastrointestinal tract: a laxative-induced smooth muscle electric and motor pattern in the small bowel and an accumulation of fluid in the lumen of both the small and large intestines. All laxatives tested may act by one or both of these mechanisms. In addition to these two distinct actions of quantitatively different responses in these two parameters for the small and large intestines. Reginal deiffrences within either of the intestinal organs probably also exists adding further complexity in the responses to laxative drugs.


Bile Acid Bile Salt Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide Cholera Toxin Intestinal Motility 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Bass
    • 1
  • Deborah A. Fox
    • 1
  1. 1.School of PharmcyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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