I took a deep dive into answering the question so many of us, who have been given Miralax as a solution for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, are asking, “What is Miralax, and what exactly are the Miralax ingredients?“
Note: This post was updated after I updated the post all about Tums and ingredients contained in them. I was so surprised by how many people actually care about this conversation, that I decided to dig further into all of these healing “masks.”
So with that….
Isaiah’s Gut Issues
If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you will remember when I addressed Isaiah and a toddler’s bowel habits long ago. It was November 21, 2017 when I wrote Toddler Gut Issues. You can read the full post HERE.
Since then, I feel like so much and yet absolutely nothing has been accomplished.
The reason is that I have learned even more about the gut and journey towards true healing for myself, and one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that without getting to the absolute root of a problem there is no use in doing all the things.
After I posted Isaiah’s stuff, people, because they actually do care, were saying all sorts of things like, “Probiotics, enzymes, the FODMAP diet, etc. etc.”
As the original A Gutsy Girl of course I know all the things. In fact, I did so many of them back in 2017 and Isaiah started feeling so much better. It was incredible!
But here’s the thing, doing all of that is incredibly difficult and challenging for a 3-year-old and all caregivers (teachers, grandparents, daycare, everyone) involved.
That said, if doing all the things would heal Isaiah forever because that’s “all” we had to do, I’d do it.
I know better.
We TEST, and we don’t GUESS, diagnose, and do all the things when we don’t truly know what’s wrong. Why? Because that’s damaging for anyone in the long run, much less a 3-year-old who is just starting their life’s journey.
Children’s GI Doctor
I started this process with Isaiah in October. He got a recommendation to “the best” children’s GI doctor in our area. I was excited! I put aside my thoughts, research, and ideas for that appointment so I could be present with her thoughts and ideas.
“Based on everything,” she said, “He’s severely backed up and needs to get his system flushed out.” “But,” she said, “I want to do an X-Ray to confirm. If my suspicions are correct, I’ll call you and you’ll start the protocol.”
“The protocol?” I asked. “What is it?” She responded,
I did a an eye roll internally, but kept on her path. I asked her what was actually wrong, though, and she didn’t seem to know nor did she think it was anything but “being backed up.”
Not correct, but again, I just kept going with it because, “She’s the doctor.”
She also told us that if the X-Ray showed that he was backed up, we should not force potty training on him because he needed to re-wire his gut and brain. And this I could get behind. And yet still my question remained, “But why? What’s wrong with him?”
Later that day, I got a call that he was extremely backed up.
The doctor’s nurse said, “Please go ahead with the protocol the doctor gave to you.”
MiraLAX Ingredients (What is Miralax?)
Click HERE to save this information on the MiraLAX ingredients for later.
The following information is for research purposes only. I have done my research (and cited sources for you). Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine your use of MiraLAX or not.
MiraLax is the brand name for the generic drug polyethylene glycol 3350, an osmotic laxative used to treat occasional constipation.
The intended uses are as follows:
- relieves occasional constipation (irregularity)
- generally produces a bowel movement in 1 to 3 days
The manufacture of MiraLAX is Bayer, and was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in February 1999.
According to the MiraLAX website, there is only one active ingredient in both the MiraLAX powder / mix-in and the MiraLAX bottles: polyethylene glycol 3350
So, what is polyethylene glycol 3350?
According to the Prescription Drug Journal, the main ingredient polyethylene glycol 3350 is,
a compound of the highly toxic chemicals ethylene glycol (EG) and diethylene glycol (DEG), ingredients found in automotive antifreeze and brake fluid.
Let’s break this down a little more:
- You can get it in an (OTC medication) over-the-counter laxatives – obviously.
- It’s used in the treatment of constipation.
- Since many PEG compounds are hydrophilic, industrially, they are utilized in cosmetic products as surfactants, emulsifiers, cleansing agents, humectants, and skin conditioners. As a medication, PEG is a part of the laxative class.
- PEGs have a variety of molecular weights and are composed of multiple ethylene glycol monomer units that undergo catalysis.
- PEG is soluble in water and is minimally absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract as a medication.
Despite this, sources say both that it is safe for children, and that children should never use it.
So which is it?
Sorry, but upon this research and THIS investigative research, I refuse to give Isaiah another dose of MiraLax. We have almost an entire bottle. The stuff is not cheap, especially since it’s just absolute crap.
Side Effects from a Usual Dose of MiraLAX (for Adults)
Here are some possible side effects which have been documented (most common side effects of MiraLAX):
- stomach cramps
- swollen abdomen
- rectal hemorrhage
In addition, PEG is contraindicated in patients with known or suspected bowel obstruction, appendicitis, inflamed bowel disease, perforated bowel, and hypersensitivity to polyethylene glycol, any component of the formulation. In these cases, more serious side effects might occur.
And here are yet more harsh side effects that people have reported:
- allergic reactions—skin rash, itching, hives, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
- other stomach pain
The Problem with MiraLAX for Children
Honestly? After doing the research, I’m quite appalled that a doctor recommended MiraLAX as “the protocol” for a little boy 3 years of age.
And here’s why:
- FDA-approved indications include the treatment of constipation in patients 17 years of age and older.
- In the pediatric population, the FDA has received reports of seizures, tremors, obsessive-compulsive behaviors (including repetitive chewing and sucking), paranoia and mood swings, tics, headache, sedation, aggression, anxiety, lethargy, and rages with the prolonged use of PEG.
- The packaging specifically states to “keep out of reach of children.”
In December 2011, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) placed MiraLAX on its Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) in connection with “neuropsychiatric events” including tremors, tics and obsessive-compulsive behaviors in children. (source)
Reasons FOR MiraLAX
Proponents of MiraLAX say:
- MiraLAX brings the body back to its natural rhythm by using the body’s own water to gently increase the frequency of bowel movements and to soften the stool so it is easier to pass.
- Relieves occasional constipation and the number of bowel movements.
- It’s generally regarding as “safe.”
Note: If you DO choose to take MiraLAX, know that electrolyte imbalances can occur. You can offset that with LMNT, which are the electrolytes I talk about all the time.
Balance your electrolytes!
Alternatives to MiraLAX
Again, let me be very clear: IF you must take MiraLAX and you understand everything about it as described above then that is your prerogative.
However, I cannot understand why it would be recommended for young children and pediatric patients. The adverse side effects which have been reported are not worth it.
Besides that, at the end of the day, MiraLAX is a mask. What this means is that if you are taking it to help have more frequent and better bowel movements, then know your problems will still be there even after you’ve consumed the ideal measurement of one measuring cap for a bowel movement.
A correct dose comes in a single dose packet or 17 grams (in powder form), but even if you get that all correct and have none of the potential side effects, you’re still not actually getting ahead.
The NASPGHAN Neurogastroenterology and Motility Committee has prepared a frequently asked questions document on PEG 3350.
Part of this document states,
Although abruptly stopping PEG 3350 is not considered dangerous, it could lead to a relapse/worsening of constipation.
Your first question should be, “….but why?”
After all, didn’t I just state above that proponents of MiraLAX say the stool softener is supposed to “bring the body back to its natural rhythm?”
If you want to address constipation in a more natural way, consider:
1. Get a food and lifestyle journal.
Use it for yourself and/or your child. This is not a supplements, medication or food protocol. Instead, this is a way to start understanding the problems you’ve been having for a long time.
Here are 3 concrete reasons for this journal:
- Save money. Sure, you might spend a few more dollars for this journal than you would for a blank, pretty little random journal. But if you are tired of spending hundreds (thousands?!) of dollars on supplements, medications, and “diets” that you aren’t entirely sure are even working, then believe me, having and using this journal will save you so much money in the long run.
- Save time. I’ve already gone through all the motions for you. Everything is set up and conducive to help you find patterns and heal faster. ““I feel like I’m ripping you off only paying $49.99 for everything. I’m not just paying for this book. I’m paying for all your years, trial and error. Thank you, thank you.” — JJ, AGG customer
- Save Energy. The A Gutsy Girl gut healing journal, Healing Blooms from Within, is a journaling system and method created for the woman who is tired of trying to figure “what’s wrong,” only to run circles around the issues. How many times have you started and stopped another gut healing journal? Save that energy. You’ll need it for enjoying life!
2. Castor Oil Packs
According to The Organic Cure,
When you apply castor oil to the skin, its main fatty acid, ricinoleic acid, binds to receptors on the muscle cells of your intestinal walls. This then causes the muscles in the intestines to contract and push out poop.
HERE are some great options for organic castor oil + packs.
And if your child is 2+, HERE is a great post all about making Castor Oil Packs.
3. Epsom Salt Baths
Epsom salt baths are great for digestion.
It’s actually magnesium sulfate. Magnesium sulfate is a hydrating agent which causes the intestines to hold more water within, softening the stool.
Magnesium sulfate is the saline type of a hydrating agent. Another saline type is Milk of magnesia, which I have also had to resort to at times for extreme bloat.
The bottom line is that salines, Epsom Salts, relax the muscles, help stimulate the digestion of fat and protein and ultimately provide relief for the digestive system.
Who knew?! A bubble bath is a great natural cure!
4. Incorporating more fiber into your diet
Dietary fiber, while it might not get the best rap in the gut healing community, might be the missing link.
Fiber can help produce more frequent stools.
There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water, and is digested by bacteria in the large intestine. This is the fiber that adds bulk to the stool and it helps prevent things like Diverticulosis and Hemorrhoids.
Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, and it is not digested. It can:
- help prevent constipation because it absorbs fluid and sticks to other byproducts of digestion that are ready to be formed into the stool
- speed up the movement and processing of waste, helping prevent gastrointestinal blockage and constipation
To see different ways for approaching fiber for your own situation and to grab a list of good fiber options, see THIS post.
5. Drinking more (high-quality) water
The benefits of water for digestion are endless.
One key benefit of adequately hydrated is that water helps to move the digestive system along. If you are constipated, your lack of water could be the cause.
Water helps to eliminate toxins from the body via sweat, urine, feces, etc. Toxins cause irritation and inflammations, damaging the gut even more.
However, due to water contamination that is now widely spread throughout the world, having a water filter can really help.
With AquaTru, it’s more than a filter. It’s pure, going through a 4-stage filtration process.
AquaTru’s patented 4-Stage Ultra Reverse Osmosis Technology is certified to NSF standards to remove 83 contaminants, including Lead, Chlorine, Fluoride, Nitrates, PFAs and many more.
Regardless, ensure you are getting enough water.
The AquaTru water filter is our filter of choice. If you want to try it out, use THIS link to save $150.
6. Eating more probiotic foods + taking probiotics
Probiotics are there to help you (re)build the good guys. Don’t expect to keep on keepin’ on with your old ways, throw in some probiotics and be magically healed. It won’t work that way.
Make changes first. When you make changes that support real gut healing you will, in essence, begin crowding out the bad bacteria.
After a short amount of time, the probiotic foods will help to continue crowding out bad bacteria and crowding in gut-thriving bacteria.
My preferred probiotic is the Just Thrive Health probiotics.
BONUS: This probiotic also now comes in a Gummie for children.
And here is a list of some of my favorite probiotics foods to consider adding into your diet:
- creme fraiche
7. Desperate? Try Intestinal Movement Formula
While the items on this list can be done for the long haul, this one should not be.
That said, while I knew I did not want MiraLAX based on all the medical literature I’d run across, I decided to explore the Intestinal Movement Formula.
The product features include:
- Gently supports bowel regularity*
- Non-cramping and non-habit-forming*
- Supports detoxification of the intestinal tract*
- Helps normalize intestinal ecology*
- Supports immune, kidney, and liver function*
- Supports healthy inflammation response in the gut*
Its full ingredients can be found HERE.
8. THE ROOT
Finally, and most importantly, get to the root of this problem.
While it’s a common problem — constipation — it’s not normal.
These health problems won’t go away until you address them.
And this is what I’ll help you with, the foundations, in GUT HEALING FOR BEGINNERS. If you’re ready for a new way to approach gut healing instead of running rampant in endless circles, this is for you.
If you liked this post on MiraLAX ingredients, you might also enjoy:
You will heal. I will help.