Psyllium, a fiber extract from the psyllium seed rich in soluble fiber, is widely used in bulk laxatives. Our research shows that two to three daily doses of the psyllium-containing laxative Metamucil reduce blood cholesterol 15 percent in men with high initial levels.
Once the diagnosis has been made, there are a nuber of treatments that may help, such as antispasmodics to control diarrhea, tranquilizers for temporary relief of anxiety, and bulk laxatives (high in fiber) or stool softeners to relieve constipation, if necessary.
Lamy cites examples of problems associated with the use of OTCs, such as swallowing chewable tablets whole (the tablets subsequently not dissolving, thus requiring surgical removal), dissolving aspirin tablets in the mouth (thus burning the lining of the flesh), and taking bulk laxatives without sufficient water dilution (necessitating surgical intervention to foster bowel evacuation).
At least two cereals, Kellogg's Fiberwise (formerly called Heartwise) and Bran Buds, contain psyllium, a grain high in soluble fiber that is primarily used in over-the-counter bulk laxatives. Some consumer groups and state officials have criticized this use of psyllium, saying that it makes cereal a "drug" and warning about possible side effects.
With the demand for oats and oat bran skyrocketing because of the cholesterol-lowering fiber they contain, it's not surprising that some people should also turn to over-the-counter bulk laxatives, which are especially rich in this soluble fiber.
O-T-C buyer Kelly Dodson notes that his company records big sales with such products as Sandoz Pharmaceutical Corp.'s Ex-Lax and Schering-Plough Corp.'s Correctol, but not as much in bulk laxatives. "But I believe that will change," he adds.