Medicine: By Bulk

Every year the colon-conscious U.S. public spends $100 million on laxatives—the biggest seller, after vitamins, in the drug field. Most of the laxatives people buy and take are intestine-irritating chemicals which many doctors denounce: cascara, aloes, resins, castor oil, phenolphthalein and salts. Such concoctions often aggravate digestive trouble, or start trouble if none exists.

Doctors themselves were mostly to blame for making the U.S. a nation of laxative-takers. A generation ago, they spread the word, with the help of patent-medicine advertisers, that waste matter retained in the colon causes self-poisoning. Current medical belief...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!