ATC Group: A06AB Contact laxatives

Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System


Contact laxatives

Hierarchical Position

Contact laxatives


Active Ingredients

Chemical substance

Bisacodyl is a locally acting laxative from the diphenylmethane derivatives group having a dual action. As a contact laxative, for which also antiresorptive hydragogue effects have been described, bisacodyl stimulates after hydrolysis in the large intestine, the mucosa of both the large intestine and of the rectum. Stimulation of the mucosa of the large intestine results in colonic peristalsis with promotion of accumulation of water, and consequently electrolytes, in the colonic lumen. This results in a stimulation of defecation, reduction of transit time and softening of the stool. Stimulation of the rectum causes increased motility and a feeling of rectal fullness. The rectal effect may help to restore the “call to stool” although its clinical relevance remains to be established.

Castor oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the seeds of the castor bean, Ricinus communis. Castor oil is used medicinally as a laxative and as an excipient.

Danthron, a natural product, was originally extracted from the roots and rhizome of Polygonaceae plant. Danthron is a reddish, synthetic anthraquinone derivative. Danthron has been widely used as a laxative.

The sugar moiety of the sennosides is removed by bacteria in the large intestine releasing the active anthrone fraction. This stimulates peristalsis via the submucosal and myenteric nerve plexuses.

Sodium picosulfate is a locally acting laxative from the triarylmethane group, which after bacterial cleavage in the colon, has a dual-action with stimulation of the mucosa of both the large intestine and of the rectum.