Regulations on plants with laxative effects are changing!

The number of people suffering from chronic constipation is estimated to be between 3 and 5% of the adult population in occidental countries.

People over 55 years are more affected than younger adults.

A constipated person experiences difficulty in having a bowel movement and in evacuating it. The causes can be numerous: low-fiber diet, insufficient hydration, lack of sporting activity, stress, changes in lifestyle, etc.

In order to relieve these everyday ailments, there are plants with laxative benefits that can reduce constipation.


There two categories of plants with laxative effects:

Group 1: laxative plants with a ballast laxative effect that can be used as a symptomatic treatment for constipation without irritating the intestine.

Group 2: laxative plants known as stimulants, which generally contain hydroxyanthacenic derivatives (HAD) for short term treatment, as these can irritate the intestine. Hydroxyanthracenic derivates or anthracenosides are heterosidic phenolic compounds derived from anthracene with laxative properties at low doses. These derivates are found in certain plants of the Angiosperm families: Liliacee (aloe), Polygonaceae (rhubarb), Rhamnacee (borage and cascara), Fabaceae (senna).


The regulations are changing for group 2: so-called stimulating plants

Concerning this second group of plants with laxative effects, regulations are changing in Europe. Indeed, these plants containing hydroxyanthracenic derivatives have been evaluated by the EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) in the framework of the procedure of article 8 of Regulation (EC) 1925/2006.

Following their negative opinion on food safety, the European Commission has decided whether or not include these plants in Annex III of Regulation 1925/2006:

  • Prohibited substances (part A): if an adverse health effect has been identified, the substance and/or the ingredient containing it is listed in Part A, and its addition to food or use in the manufacture of food is prohibited.
  • Restricted substances (part B): if an adverse health effect has been identified, the substance and/or the ingredient containing it is listed in Part B, and its addition to foods or use in the manufacture of foods is permitted only under specified conditions.
  • Substances under Community control (part C): if the possibility of adverse health effects is identified, but scientific uncertainly remains, the substance is listed in Part C.

The regulation places in Annex III of Regulation (EC) 1925/2006:

  • In Part A (Prohibition):
    • Aloe-emodin and all preparations in which this substance is present
    • Emodin and all preparations in which this substance is present
    • Danthrone and all preparations in which this substance is present
  • In Part C (under Community control):
    • Preparations from roots or rhizhomes of Rheum palmatum L., Rheum officinale Baillon and their hybrids containing hydroxyanthracene derivatives
    • Preparations from leaves or fruits of Cassia senna L. containing hydroxyanthracene derivatives
    • Preparations from the bark of Rhamnus frangula L. or Rhamnus purshiana DC. containing hydroxyanthracene derivatives

As a consequence, from the entry into force of the measure, products containing preparations of plants with HAD will have to contain less than 1 ppm of aloe-emodin, emodin and aloin A + aloin B.

In order to meet the different expectations, both at the regulatory level and at the level of people suffering from constipation, we propose several alternatives to relieve constipation while taking care of the body.


Plants with laxative effects, known as ballast laxative effect

Psyllium (Plantago ovata)
Psyllium (or ispaghul) is a plant whose seeds are used as a laxative. The seeds contain large quantities of mucilage, which has been proven to be non-irritating. The seed husks effectively relieve constipation thanks to their soluble fibres, which increase the volume and suppleness of the stools.

Tamarind (Tamarindus indica)
The pulp of the tamarind pods (fruit) is a mild and effective laxative used against intestinal disorders.

Pinar Kuru. Tamarindus indica and its health related effects. Asian pacific journal of tropical biomedicine. 2014 ; 4(9) ; 676-681.
Reinout M. Havinga et al. Tamarindus indica L. : patterns of use in traditional African medicine. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 127 (2010) 573-588.

Triphala
Triphala is one of the most widely used remedies in India and in Ayurveda. It is a complex of three berries that are beneficial for rebalancing the internal functions and energies (the doshas): amalaki (Emblica officinalis), haritaki (Terminalia Chebula) and bibhitaki (Terminalia Belerica).
Triphala, a natural laxative that acts gently on intestinal transit. Triphala regenerates the colon and regulates digestion. It is also a source of natural vitamin C which has antioxidant and tonic effects.

Guggul (Commiphora mukul)
Guggul removes toxins from the body and promotes easy digestion of food. It has a mild laxative effect.

Constipation can also be due effects on other organs such as the liver.

Stimulating the liver to relieve constipation

Desmodium (Desmodium adscendens) and rosmary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) do not have a direct laxative effect, but they do have an effect on the liver. Indeed, constipation can also be the result of biliary “sluggishness”, particularly following an operation, a period of stress or an inflammatory episode. The use of rosemary or desmodium would help to alleviate these problems.

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This communication is not destinated to consumers but for professional use. Products listed in this communication are not intented to diagnose treat cure or prevent any disease.