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Staying Balanced

Decisions that support a healthy lifestyle

Have questions about managing constipation and upset stomach? Senokot.ca has the tips you need to make educated decisions that support a healthy lifestyle.

Diet
Consuming more dietary fibre

What exactly is fibre and what does it do?

Fibre is the portion of the food that is not digested–in other words, it is not completely broken down by the stomach. Fibre increases bulk and softens the stool by absorbing water, which helps prevent constipation.

How much fibre is found in different fruits?

Use the information below to help plan your daily menu with the 26–35 grams of dietary fibre recommended to help avoid constipation.

FRUIT AMOUNT/SIZE TOTAL DIETARY FIBRE (GRAMS)
Mango ½ 1.9
Avocado ½ 6.7
Pear with skin 1 5.0
Prunes, dried 3 1.8
Figs, dried 2 1.6
Orange 1 2.3
Apricots, raw 3 2.1

How much fibre is found in different vegetables?

Use the information below to help plan your daily menu with the 26–35 grams of dietary fibre recommended to help avoid constipation.

VEGETABLE AMOUNT/SIZE TOTAL DIETARY FIBRE (GRAMS) Brussels sprouts, fresh or frozen, boiled, drained 4 sprouts 3.2 Sweet potato, baked, peeled after cooking ½ 1.9 Potato, baked, flesh 1 3.4 Turnip (white turnip), cubed, boiled, drained 125 mL (½ cup) 1.6 Edamame 125 mL (½ cup) 4.3 Broccoli, chopped, boiled, drained 125 mL (½ cup) 2.0 Peas, green, frozen, boiled, drained 125 mL (½ cup) 3.7

How much fibre is found in different cereals?

Use the information below to help plan your daily menu with the 26–35 grams of dietary fibre recommended to help avoid constipation.

CEREAL AMOUNT/SIZE TOTAL DIETARY FIBRE (GRAMS) All Bran, Kellogg’s® 125 mL (½ cup) 11.8 Oat bran, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 3.4 Oatmeal, instant, regular 1 packet 2.7 Oatmeal, large flakes/quick 175 mL (¾ cup) 2.6 Cheerios, regular General Mills™ 250 mL (1 cup) 2.2 Barley, pearled, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 2.0 Rice, brown, long-grain, cooked 125 mL (½ cup) 1.5

How much fibre is found in different bread products?

Use the information below to help plan your daily menu with the 26–35 grams of dietary fibre recommended to help avoid constipation.

BREAD PRODUCT AMOUNT/SIZE TOTAL DIETARY FIBRE (GRAMS)
Muffin, bran, homemade 57 g (1 medium) 3.7
Melba toast, plain 2 crackers 0.6
Whole wheat crackers 4 1.7
Bread, whole wheat, commercial 35 g (1 slice) 2.4
Spaghetti, whole wheat, cooked 250 mL (1 cup) 4.8
Bread, rye 35 g (1 slice) 2.0

How much fibre is found in different legumes (beans)?

Use the information below to help plan your daily menu with the 26–35 grams of dietary fibre recommended to help avoid constipation.

LEGUME AMOUNT/SIZE TOTAL DIETARY FIBRE (GRAMS)
Beans, black, canned, not drained 175 mL (¾ cup) 12.2
Beans, pinto, canned, not drained 175 mL (¾ cup) 8.2
Beans, kidney, dark red, canned, not drained 175 mL (¾ cup) 12.1
Vegetable patty 1 5.7
Beans, baked, with pork, canned 175 mL (¾ cup) 10.4
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans), canned, not drained 175 mL (¾ cup) 7.8

How much fibre is found in different nuts & seeds?

Use the information below to help plan your daily menu with the 26–35 grams of dietary fibre recommended to help avoid constipation.

NUT/SEED AMOUNT/SIZE TOTAL DIETARY FIBRE (GRAMS)
Almonds, dried 60 mL 4.2
Flaxseeds, whole and ground 15 mL (1 tbsp) 3.0
Hazelnuts or filberts, dried 60 mL (¼ cup) 3.3
Sunflower seed kernels, roasted, salted 60 mL (¼ cup) 2.9
Walnuts, dried 60 mL 1.7

Does drinking more water really help manage constipation?

Drinking more fluid (2.2 L or 9 cups of water or juice a day) can help avoid constipation. Also, try staying clear of caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea or cola. They can cause frequent urination. That leaves less fluid for the digestive tract, which may result in constipation.

Exercise
Being physically active

Can regular exercise really help manage constipation?

Regular physical activity is beneficial to many aspects of your health–including managing bouts of constipation. Walking, running, biking, swimming and yoga are all great ways to tone and strengthen the colon wall. Exercise also increases blood flow to all parts of the body, including the digestive tract.

Stress
A balanced lifestyle

Can stress and anxiety really cause constipation?

The physical effects of stress and anxiety can cause a variety of changes within the body that may result in constipation. If antidepressant/antianxiety medication is being prescribed, a healthcare professional may also recommend a laxative with stool softener to help manage constipation. If stress is a factor, include a couple of the following simple relaxation techniques throughout the day:

Take 5 minutes and listen to a favourite song or style of music. Take 5 minutes to focus on breathing. Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths. Reach out to friends, preferably face-to-face, for support and a fresh perspective.Get up and take a 5-10 minute walk outside. Breathe deeply. Take a green tea break–green tea contains theanine, an amino acid that calms the body. Take a YouTube break. Laughter is a natural relaxant.

What is travel constipation?

A change in schedule, diet and time differences can all throw the digestive tract off its rhythm. Help it out by maintaining or increasing water intake and consuming more daily fibre. Avoid long stretches of sitting–taking pit stops when needed and stretching legs before continuing both help to maintain digestive health. A healthcare professional may also advise taking a natural laxative along, like Senokot® Tablets.

Women
What you need to know

Why do women experience constipation more often than men?

Women in Canada are nearly 2x as likely as men to experience constipation and the reasons for this are currently unknown.

Can I take Senokot® while breastfeeding?

As with any medication, if you are pregnant or nursing, you should talk to a doctor before taking Senokot® products.

How many Senokot® for Women Tablets can be taken per day?

Senokot® for Women Tablets (standardized sennosides) use natural senna to help provide gentle overnight relief for better results in the morning. Adults should not exceed 4 tablets twice a day. Children should not exceed 2 tablets twice a day.

DOSE TIMES PER DAY
Adults 2–4 tablets 1–2*
Children aged 6–12 1–2 tablets 1–2†
Senokot® for Women Laxative Tablets: Available in packs of 25 and 90
* Total daily dose not to exceed 8 tablets
† Total daily dose not to exceed 4 tablets

Can men take Senokot® for Women Tablets?

Yes. Senokot® for Women Tablets (standardized sennosides) may be taken by men. Adults should not exceed 4 tablets twice a day. Children should not exceed 2 tablets twice a day.

DOSE TIMES PER DAY
Adults 2–4 tablets 1–2*
Children aged 6–12 1–2 tablets 1–2†
Senokot® for Women Laxative Tablets: Available in packs of 25 and 90
* Total daily dose not to exceed 8 tablets
† Total daily dose not to exceed 4 tablets

Additional FAQs Questions & Answers

What is constipation?

A useful definition of constipation is the infrequent passage of stool (less than three stools a week) that is difficult and painful to pass. Symptoms include feeling bloated, straining, abdominal pain, and gas.

What are common causes of constipation?

Some common causes of constipation include: poor dietary habits, such as low intake of dietary fibre or an inadequate fluid intake, lack of exercise and certain medications.

Why a stool softner?

Stool softeners, like docusate sodium, help draw water into the intestine making it easier for hard, dry stools to pass through. Learn How Senokot® is made >

How does senna help ease constipation?

The sennosides (or senna glycosides) found within the senna plant stimulate a series of comfortable wave-like contractions called peristalsis to help encourage bowel movements.

Why do we experience constipation?

As food moves through the colon, water is absorbed leaving waste products or stool. The muscles that line the colon contract in a wave-like motion to push the stool down toward the rectum. By the time the stool reaches the rectum, it is solid because most of the water has been absorbed. However, if the muscles of the large intestine are sluggish, the colon will absorb too much water and the stool will become dry and hard, resulting in difficult painful bowel movements.

What happens if chronic constipation goes untreated?

If left untreated, occasional constipation may lead to complications such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, rectal prolapse, and fecal impaction.

How can constipation be avoided?

Common ways of avoiding constipation include being more physically active, consuming more dietary fibre (between 26–35 grams/day), and drinking more water (at least 2.2 L or 9 cups/day).

When is a laxative necessary?

A laxative with a stool softener can help provide gentle relief when constipation is accompanied by hard, dry stools. The laxative provides the muscle contractions to move the waste through the colon, while the stool softener ( i.e., docusate sodium) softens the stool for added comfort.

What is considered a “normal” bowel movement?

Everyone has their own “normal”. For some, it’s three times a day. For others, it’s three times a week. Normal isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality. Straining, pushing or discomfort are signs of constipation.

When should you not take a laxative?

Do not use if you are hypersensitive to the active substance (sennosides) or to any ingredient in the formulation; have an acute surgical abdomen; abnormal constrictions of the gastrointestinal tract; potential or existing intestinal blockage and stenosis; ileus; atonic bowel; appendicitis; inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis; abdominal pain of unknown origin; undiagnosed rectal bleeding and severe dehydration with depleted water or electrolytes.

Can certain medications cause constipation?

Yes, they can. If you’re experiencing constipation while on medication, consult with your healthcare professional. A laxative may be in order.

What’s the history with senna?

Records from the 9th century AD reveal Arabian physicians using the senna plant to help ease symptoms associated with constipation. Throughout history, wherever the senna plant grew, ancient tribes from the Aztecs to the Cherokee took advantage of its naturally gentle digestive properties.

What are some surprising causes of constipation?

Obvious causes of constipation include a low-fibre diet, not drinking enough water, ignoring the urge to go to the washroom, certain medications and a lack of physical activity.
There are, however, other possible causes that may not instantly come to mind.

These include:

  • Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid may cause constipation as it slows the body’s metabolism–including the speed at which food digests.
  • Excess Dairy: A diet high in milk, cheese and other low-fibre/high-fat foods like eggs and meat have been known to slow digestion, which may cause constipation.
  • Calcium & Iron Supplements: Most vitamins aren’t a problem, but an influx of extra calcium and iron may cause constipation.
  • Antacids: Though a convenient and effective way to treat heartburn, the extra calcium and aluminum may result in bouts of constipation.

The rate of constipation goes up as people age.

Of people 65 years of age or more, 26% of women and 16% of men are constipated.
But constipation is not caused by being old. Rather it is caused by other age-related problems such as decreased mobility, age-related medical conditions, increased use of medications that cause constipation as a side effect, and changes in diet.
There are however, certain lifestyle changes that can help relieve constipation. These include eating more fibre, staying well hydrated, and being as physically active as possible.
Eat more fresh fruit, dried fruits such as apricots, prunes and figs, cooked or raw vegetables, and whole-grain cereals and breads
Drink lots of water and juices
Do things that keep you moving and active like going for walks or taking care of your yard

How can I tell if my child is constipated?

Some guidelines to identifying constipation in infants and children include no bowel movements for 2 or 3 more days than usual, less than 3 bowel movements a week, hard or painful bowel movements, large stools that may clog the toilet, and drops of blood on the outside of the stool.
Is constipation different in children? The symptoms of constipation are the same in children as they are in adults, but children can develop constipation differently. Children may be reluctant to use a strange bathroom, worried about having a “bad” experience or interrupt playtime with friends thereby disrupting their natural clock.

What can cause constipation in children?
Constipation can be related to many factors:
Eating too many foods that are high in fat and low in fibre, like fast foods
Not drinking enough water and other fluids
Lack of exercise
Not wanting to use public bathrooms
Feeling stressed because of school, friends, or family
Starting a new school year so children can’t go to the bathroom whenever they feel the need and they have to change their bathroom routine

What is stomach upset?

Stomach upset goes by various other names such as indigestion or dyspepsia.
You can get it when you eat too much or too fast, when you eat spicy, fatty or greasy food, or if you eat when stressed. Smoking, alcohol and caffeine can make stomach upset worse.

The following are some symptom of stomach upset:
Burning in the stomach or upper abdomen
Heartburn
Abdominal pain
Bloating (full feeling)
Belching and gas
Acidic taste
Stomach noises or rumbling

What is gas?

Gas gets into the digestive tract two ways: by swallowing air and by the formation of gas by the bacterial that normally live in the gut. The swallowed air is released by burping. The gas produced in the gut is released as flatulence (also called passing gas). Flatus is the medical name for the gas. The gases produced by the bacteria are hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide

Gas forms in your large intestine (colon) when bacteria ferment carbohydrates such as fibre, some starches and some sugars. Certain foods can cause excessive gas formation such as cabbage, broccoli, baked beans, onions, bran and other high fiber containing fruits, grains and vegetables. But while high-fibre foods might cause too much gas to be produced, fibre is is very important to keep your gut functioning normally.

Senokot® family of remedies

How Senokot® Extra Strenght Tablets are different from Senokot® Tablets?

Senokot® Extra Strength Tablets have double the dosage of Senokot® Tablets. Both use natural senna (sennosides) to help provide overnight relief for better results in the morning.

ACTIVE INGREDIENT QUANTITY PER TABLET Senokot® Tablets Senna (Sennosides) 8.6 mg Senokot® Extra Strength Tablets Senna (Sennosides) 17.2 mg

How much Senokot® Chocolate-Flavoured Syrup can be taken per day?

Senokot® Syrup (standardized sennosides) is for those who prefer liquid over tablets. Adults should not exceed 2–3 teaspoons (10–15 mL) twice a day. Children should not exceed 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 mL) twice a day.

DOSE TIMES PER DAY
Adults 2–3 teaspoons (10–15 mL) 1–2*
Children aged 6–12 1–2 teaspoons (5–10 mL) 1–2†
Senokot® Syrup: Available in 100 mL, 250 mL and 500 mL bottles
* Total daily dose not to exceed 30 mL
† Total daily dose not to exceed 20 mL

Can men take Senokot® for Women Tablets?

Yes. Senokot® for Women Tablets (standardized sennosides) may be taken by men. Adults should not exceed 4 tablets twice a day. Children should not exceed 2 tablets twice a day.

DOSE TIMES PER DAY
Adults 2–4 tablets 1–2*
Children aged 6–12 1–2 tablets 1–2†
Senokot® for Women Laxative Tablets: Available in packs of 25 and 90
* Total daily dose not to exceed 8 tablets
† Total daily dose not to exceed 4 tablets

How many Senokot® for Women Tablets can be taken per day?

Senokot® for Women Tablets (standardized sennosides) use natural senna to help provide gentle overnight relief for better results in the morning. Adults should not exceed 4 tablets twice a day. Children should not exceed 2 tablets twice a day.

DOSE TIMES PER DAY
Adults 2–4 tablets 1–2*
Children aged 6–12 1–2 tablets 1–2†
Senokot® for Women Laxative Tablets: Available in packs of 25 and 90
* Total daily dose not to exceed 8 tablets
† Total daily dose not to exceed 4 tablets

How many Senokot® Extra Strenght Tablets can be taken per day?

Senokot® Extra Strength Tablets use natural senna (sennosides) to help provide gentle overnight relief for better results in the morning. Adults should not exceed 4 tablets a day. Children should not exceed 2 tablets a day.

DOSE TIMES PER DAY
Adults 1–2 tablets 1–2*
Children aged 6–12 1 tablet 1–2†
Senokot®Extra Strength Laxative Tablets: Available in packs of 18 and 60
* Total daily dose not to exceed 4 tablets
† Total daily dose not to exceed 2 tablets

Where can I buy Senokot® products?

The Senokot® Family of Laxatives can be found in many popular and convenient stores across Canada including:

Canada Safeway
Costco
Jean Coutu
Lawtons
Loblaws
Canadian Superstores
Overwaitea Food Group
Rexall
Pharmasave
Shoppers Drug Mart
PharmaPlus
Uniprix
Walmart
Sobeys
Metro
Guardian

Not a comprehensive list. Retail chain listings are subject to change.
Note: the complete family of Senokot® Laxatives may not be available at each location.

How many Senokot® Tablets can be taken per day?

Senokot® Tablets (standardized sennosides) use natural senna to help provide gentle overnight relief for better results in the morning. Adults should not exceed 4 tablets twice a day. Children should not exceed 2 tablets twice a day.

DOSE TIMES PER DAY
Adults 2–4 tablets 1–2*
Children aged 6–12 1–2 tablets 1–2†
Senokot® Laxative Tablets: Available in packs of 10, 30 and 100
* Total daily dose not to exceed 8 tablets
† Total daily dose not to exceed 4 tablets

How many Senokot®•S Tablets can be taken per day?

Senokot®•S Tablets (standardized sennosides with docusate sodium) combine natural senna with a gentle stool softener. Adults should not exceed 4 tablets twice a day. Children aged 6–11 should not exceed one tablet twice a day.

DOSE TIMES PER DAY
Adults 1–2 tablets 1–2*
Children aged 6–11 ½ to 1 tablet with full glass of water 1–2†
Senokot®•S Laxative plus Stool Softener Tablets: Available in packs of 10, 20 and 60
* Total daily dose not to exceed 8 tablets
† Total daily dose not to exceed 2 tablets

Additional Online Resources

Managing Constipation With Diet In Adults HealthLink BC 

Treating Constipation With Laxatives GI Society: Canadian Society of Intestinal Research

Constipation: An Overview GI Society: Canadian Society of Intestinal Research 

Chronic Constipation Disrupts Daily Life GI Society: Canadian Society of Intestinal Research

Managing Constipation While Living With Cancer Canadian Cancer Society

Senokot® Product Licences & Labels


Senokot® Tablets and Senokot® for Women Product Licence (PDF)

Senokot®•S Prescribing Information (PDF)

Senokot® Extra Strength Product Licence (PDF) 

Senokot® Syrup Product Licence (PDF) 

Senokot® Ginger Relief™ (PDF)