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Rated 2.5/5 based on 33 reviews

Exlax is a stimulant laxative containing senna, which comes from plant leaves. It is called a stimulant laxative because the senna stimulates the muscles of the bowel wall to increase contractions, and therefore move food faster through the colon. Exlax treats short-term symptoms of constipation. As with other stimulant laxatives it may produce side effects such as cramping or 'griping' pains in the stomach. It may also produce an urgent need for a bowel movement. Exlax is available in various forms and strengths. The tablet form is available in regular and maximum strength, and there is also a chocolate version.

Exlax side effects

The most common side effects of Exlax are nausea, burping, diarrhea and stomach cramps.


Review by Erin

As someone who has been fairly recently diagnosed with IBS-D, formally diagnosed last year, I have been struggling to find some sort of relief from the constant diarrhea. I battled extreme diarrhea for years but now all of a sudden I'm dealing with constipation. I have no idea what my body is doing anymore. It's so frustrating which honestly does not help matters.

Anyway, I found myself in quite a bit of pain recently due to not having a bowel movement in two weeks. Out of desperation this last Thursday I tried taking two chocolate Exlax tabs. I waited and waited and waited; 12 hours went by and still nothing. The next day I did manage to have three fairly significant BMs but that was it, nothing else has happened since except for horrific, foul-smelling, painful, high-pressure gas.

This gas pain is honestly worse than the feeling of being backed up for two weeks! It's so bad I still feel backed up on top it! I've been told by someone else who is an IBS sufferer to try Metamucil or other fiber supplements to help with constipation and at this point I'm willing to try anything in order to feel like I'm not about to explode! Needless to say, all Exlax did was cause me to have insanely painful gas. Never again.

Review by Jaymie

I have IBS-constipation and never usually let it get away from me, until recently. So when the stool softener didn't work and the pain and discomfort of being stopped up was too much I got Exlax Max Strength. I took two around 7pm. The next day around noon I had felt no inkling of it working so I took two more.

Well, six hours later I got that urge to go relieve myself, so I went to the bathroom and tried to go but the severe cramping it caused me meant I couldn't relax to push it out and it didn't make my stool soft (like other reviewers state it did for them).

As I'm still sitting on the throne in agony and pain with nothing happening, I go out and try to soothe my pain to relax enough to have a BM. Well, I tried back and forth about five times until I had to break down and buy an enema. After the enema I had two successful BMs. I felt the relief for a brief moment in my stomach and figured that this would help my cramping pain decrease - but boy was I wrong.

For the rest of that night I got no sleep due to the lower stomach pain waves from the Exlax. I had no appetite and no energy. Each day the cramping lessened but the pain never lessened each time the wave came. I'm still in shock that it's been three days since my dose of Exlax and I am still trying to recover from the two days of no sleep and excessive gas. My tummy is not happy! I figured it would be happy after emptying what was clogged, but lesson learned and no more Exlax. Ugh.

Review by Kathy

I am very happy with Exlax. I take one every morning at 6:00am and about six hours later I go to the bathroom and then again maybe two or three times after that. If I am going some place that day I do not take them, but I have been doing this for about 20 years and I am very happy. I never take more than one.

Review by Sheila

I was recently diagnosed with IBS. The only thing that works on my constipation is extra strength Exlax or the store equivalent. I tried magnesium citrate liquid and it was horrible stuff, and enemas don't work. Exlax works. I went through three weeks of suffering before I came back to Exlax. The senna is the only thing that works.

Review by Jenna

I love Exlax! It works wonders! I was backed up for about a week which is very unusual for me, and I took four Exlax tablets at night and had four bowel movements. One was the same night, and three the next morning. I love it!

Review by Amara

For me, this product didn't do anything terrible in terms of side effects. I took two pills at 9pm with a glass of water before going to bed, and then in the morning nothing had happened. The instructions said that two pills could be taken twice a day however, so at 9am the next morning I took two more. Only much later (around 10pm) did the laxative have any effect. Sure, there was cramping, but it did the job and I have found most stimulant laxatives to come with cramping as a given anyway.

My normal routine is to take one or two tablespoons of milk of magnesia with a glass of water nightly and this typically relieves my constipation. Every couple of months however I'll go through a spell where this doesn't work so I have to use Exlax or another stimulant laxative.

Review by Marie

I recently went to the doctor because I was really bound up, and I was told to take a laxative. I went to the drug store, saw maximum strength Exlax and thought this should take care of it quick and fast. Well that is not what happened. At about midnight I took two pills as prescribed, and about a half hour after taking it I had uncontrollable shakes and shivering! I literally felt the blood rushing out of my hands and feet, and my limbs went cold and numb. My fiancè even tried to keep me warm and relax me, but then I started to not be able to control my breathing or shaking, and when I tried to control it my body started convulsing and I could not stop moaning.

After what seemed like a long while I felt my stomach get real hot and then my body temperature rose to where I could feel my face pulsating heat. By that time the shaking stopped and I became very fatigued and soon passed out and woke up several hours later soaking wet! So drenched that I literally could ring out my nightgown! At first I thought I had wet my bed but then realized that my hair was dripping sweat and my pillow was drenched, and for three hours straight I did not stop sweating profusely, I literally lost five pounds. Not to mention I went to the bathroom about six times that night to urinate.

Even after all this time I did not have have a BM, any abdominal pain or intestinal pain! That is until about 11am when I had the worst intestinal cramps, it felt like I was being stabbed by a knife and someone was twisting it sharply over and over. Then finally after the fourth major cramp I finally had relief. It took 12 hours to work and the whole time I thought I was going to die! Next time I think I will drink prune juice!

Review by Meredith

I have IBS with chronic constipation and I have had it at least since I was 12 or 13 (I'm 23 now). If I take two pills of Exlax I have the horrific cramps that most of the other reviewers have mentioned, and I have diarrhea all day long, sometimes so bad that it would make me bleed.

My constipation is horrible now since I have been having to take a pain medication. I normally use Miralax a few days a week and take stool softeners every day, but it wasn't enough. I took one Exlax pill like I normally do and so far I have still only had very small hard bowel movements and passed mucus. The cramps are so bad I have been doubled over in pain and had to hug a pillow to use the bathroom, and I am very nauseous.

Review by Anny

I have used Exlax before because I thought it was supposed to be a good laxative. It promised gentle, effective relief. Well...I got none of that. A couple of years ago was the last time I ever took it. I took three of the chocolate tablets expecting to be glued to the toilet a few hours later.

I got extreme stomach cramps, loud uncontrollable gas and just a sick flu-like feeling. Long story short it didn't work. I didn't get any relief, or a BM from it. I'm never buying that product again.

Review by Jodi

I have tried all sorts of treatments for my IBS and most recently Exlax. It definitely worked but I had lots of cramping and uncontrollable gas. It took hours to work and then when it did, I started sweating a bunch. I had taken two tablets of the regular strength. Needless to say, I went back to one thing that seemed to work for my IBS...Correctol. It's made for women but my boyfriend uses it too and has great results.

Review by Jeremy

I feel that this product works for me. It just took my body a couple of weeks to get used to it. At first I wouldn't be able to have a BM for like a week. Then after taking this for the first time (double dose) it was like a monster storm came out and I felt like I lost 10 pounds. After three weeks I can BM normally once a day. I take three to four pieces a week.

Review by Mary

I have terrible IBS-C and I thought that Exlax Max would help. Oh, sure, it fixed the problem easily, but starting when I finally got a BM, I had uncontrollable loud and smelly gas attacks during my BM. I thought 'So what, it worked, that gas is all gone' but I had uncontrollable gas all day.

Review by Mae

I take Exlax, but I only take about one eighth to one quarter of one of the little chocolate pieces per day. I don't take it every day, I only take it if my bowels don't move, and I take small amounts daily until the bowels move well. Rarely do I have to go to a half or full chunk of chocolate. If I can keep things moving on a day-to-day basis it's much better. If I am already constipated any laxative may cause bad pain, bloating and gas. It is trying to force out what is there, it is probably dry and hard.

Review by Cindy

My severe episodes of constipation are generally on vacation due to lack of privacy and a change in diet and exercise. I just got back from vacation, and I decided to try Exlax chocolate. I took two pieces at 11am and slept until 6pm that night. When I woke up my stomach was bloated and was still hurting, so I took three more pieces. I had huge stomach cramps, but no BM. When I went to the bathroom I let out a lot of loud gas but nothing else.

It made me very, very sleepy almost immediately, didn't give me a satisfying BM, and all day I was nauseous, dizzy, had headaches and felt like vomiting. Basically I ended my misery with lots of prune juice, Fiber One cereal, and water. I wouldn't recommend taking this, aside from my repulsion for chocolate now...

Review by Vanessa

I was diagnosed with IBS seven years ago. Recently I have been eating a lot of fast food, which tends to make me extremely bloated and unable to have a BM. So yesterday, around 5:00pm, I took three of the chocolate Exlax chewables, hoping to see some results.

I had no results whatsoever. I sat up until 2am, watching for signs of a BM, and got nothing. Twenty-four hours passed, and nothing at all. I respond well to the guar gum form of Benefiber, but wanted to try something new. All Exlax did was make me feel more bloated and unable to go.

Review by Kelly

I took Exlax after my senna tablets failed to produce any movement after three days. The Exlax took almost 24 hours to work and did not provide great results. It backed me up again a week later and I was in more pain than I was before the Exlax.

Review by Sluntse

I have always had constipation and I was diagnosed with IBS, so I started taking Exlax in September last year. In the beginning one pill in the morning used to help, so by 2 or 3pm I was in the bathroom, everything was pretty watery and it was easy to go. I took Exlax two or three times a week. After two months I had to start taking two pills, and the effect was the same for another two or three months.

By February this year I was taking two extra strength pills, and then in five or six hours I would get severe cramping and severe urges to go, but when I tried to go, it was so hard and constipated it would not come out. I went to a gastroenterologist and he said I have damaged my bowels with the Exlax and I would never be normal again.

I pretty much have to eat only fruit now, because if I eat veggies or any other food I get severely constipated and my stool is very hard and impossible to pass out. I truly regret taking Exlax for four or five months. If I could go back and never have taken it, I would. I am much worse now and much more severely constipated than before.

Review by Sharita

I am newly diagnosed with IBS. I was severely constipated - my stomach was killing me so badly every time I even thought about eating, for almost a week. Since I am very sensitive to any medication I first tried to clear it up with mineral oil. That turned out to be frustrating as it softened my stool enough to ease the pain but did not clear the problem.

Last night after work I broke down and bought some Exlax chocolates. I was too afraid to try anything stronger - no point in overkill. I took two before bedtime and during the night I had some mild cramps but nothing that disturbed my sleep too much. It said on the box it was guaranteed to work by 8am. It did not, so I started to worry a little.

Around 10.15 I was finally able to go. It was rather liquid, but overall I have been satisfied. It is 7pm now and aside from a little residual gas and some slight cramping, I feel good and can eat again without pain.

Review by Tiffany

I have had problems with my bowels since I was around eight years old. The doctor gave me a liquid root beer-flavored laxative and sent me on my way. Years later I needed something a little stronger so I reached for Exlax. It is very dependable. It does cause stomach cramps and the urge to go to the bathroom but that is posted on the box. If you are truly constipated and backed up, as I usually am, then one day of cramps is worth it.

I make sure I chug as much water as I can during and after if I have diarrhea. If I don't want to take Exlax often as I don't want to become dependent on it, I use Fibercon. I take two in the morning with a full glass of water and two at night. Then sometime throughout the day I drink a cup of strong coffee and chug 20-30oz of water. I always have a bowel movement. It hasn't failed me yet. My own little fix-it.

Review by Crystal

I eat right and exercise and still have IBS with constipation. I take Zelnorm and it doesn't work very well for me, so I also take Exlax about two or three times a week. I take two pills before bed. It doesn't usually cause me to have any cramping. Although I do get cramping very occasionally I will take it over the bloating and constipation any day.

Review by Ashley

I eat healthily and exercise but I have a lot of stress and have severe IBS. I've been reading the reviews and I have the same severe IBS as another reviewer who said they have extreme diarrhea or extreme constipation, never regular bowel movements, and they only have a bowel movement they're when on their period.

So yes I go weeks without producing a bowel movement, so sometimes (about three times a month) I just have to take an Exlax otherwise I'll feel sick. Yes, it causes diarrhea and stomach cramps for about a day, but it's worth it in my opinion to clear the constipation, and then to feel so much better after. I've tried all the Exlax pills and for me two Exlax chocolates works most comfortably.

Review by Sara

I've tested Exlax over the years and finally found that if I take one tablet before bed, I get perfect results the next morning. Yes sometimes I get some cramps just letting me know it is time to get to the bathroom, and other times it is regular got to go feelings. But all in all - I recommend it. But if I take two, I'm miserable.

Review by James

I tried some Exlax that I found cleaning out my medicine cabinet. I had been feeling bound up inside so I checked the expiration date, noted it was not to expire for two years, and took one. The next afternoon I was in and out of the bathroom. I felt it was over at the end of the day and went to bed. I awoke the next day with mind-bending stomach pain. I am still suffering now. It burns, aches and throbs....makes me vomit. I don't know what to do. I am calling the doc tomorrow. Exlax should be taken off the shelf!

Review by Laura

I had tried everything to alleviate my severe constipation due to IBS. I decided to take Exlax, even though I had only heard bad things about it. I should have listened to everyone else. I took two maximum strength pills and waited about 30 minutes. I decided that I needed to take a few more. Over the course of an hour, I managed to pop nine maximum strength Exlax pills.

I pretty much spent the next day and a half crying on the toilet. I had to skip school the next day. Every time I thought I was done, I would stand up to pull my pants back on but gravity took over. I had to immediately sit back down. By the end of the week, I ended up in the hospital for severe dehydration.

I have finally found a cure for my chronic constipation. I eat All-Bran every morning and take Miralax once a day. Although that doesn't always help with the diarrhea...

Review by Robin

Every time I take Exlax I end up in the emergency room. I get such bad stomach pain the doctor thinks I am having appendicitis. Turns out that the laxative irritates IBS and gives me gastroenteritis. I do not recommend it. As of yet I have found nothing that helps the constipation. I have the type of IBS that goes from severe constipation to severe diarrhea. I only have bowel movements during my period.

Review by Nick

Last night I took Exlax Chocolate to help me with releasing the build-up inside. At about 9:30am, I woke up with the worst stabbing stomach cramps. I dashed to the restroom and let it out. Only, letting it out was a terrible thing. I started sweating like I had been running non-stop in 100 degree weather. I felt terrible and thought that I just may need to call 911. In my opinion, Exlax is a terrible product. Stick with the old prune juice!

Review by Shay

I took Exlax in the morning because I did not want to wake up in the middle of the night going to the bathroom. Big mistake. I bought this product thinking it would help my problem, but it only made it worse. In the middle of the day I had the worst cramps, it hurt so bad, and I was getting hot flashes. I felt I needed to throw up so I rushed to the bathroom several times that day. Now I know that I will never take Exlax again. Exlax doesn't help you, it really hurts you.

Review by RG

I took Exlax at around 10pm, then at 6am I woke up with pain in my stomach and I sprinted to the bathroom and let it all out. The same day I woke up around 9am with body weakness and stomach cramps. Again I went to the restroom and let it all out.

Around 11am I went to the store and I was very weak, I felt like vomiting, and I also felt dizzy and sleepy. Afterwards I went home and fell asleep at around 3pm. I went again to the restroom and it was severely painful because of the stomach cramps. Then around 8pm I had a severe cramp that made me feel very uncomfortable and made me almost faint. I had the most terrible Presidents' Day of my life because of this product.

Review by Kate

I take Exlax everyday, as well as calcium polycarbophil, to help with my extreme IBS constipation situation. I also take milk of magnesia and mineral oil, and if things are really bad I take Dulcolax on top of everything listed in this clean-me-out cocktail. It works. I've been doing it daily for years. If I miss a day I am constipated and miserable. I highly recommend Exlax. It is reliable. It is effective. It is cheap and dependable. My gastroenterologist knows and encourages me to continue to take Exlax.

Review by Jessica

I am a 35 year-old mother of four with a full-time job. I exercise daily, drink plenty of water, eat all of the right foods, yet I suffer from IBS due to the daily stresses of raising a family and keeping up with work. In addition, I recently had oral surgery and believe that a combination of change in diet, lack of exercise and usage of pain medication during the 10 days following the procedure, led to the comeback of my IBS symptoms with severe constipation.

Last Thursday night I took one Exlax tablet (in the yellow box) around 6pm. I woke up around 2am with terrible stomach pains. Not abdominal cramping (I am well aware of that feeling). This was burning pains in the center of my stomach. When I went downstairs to get a glass of water and eat something, I fainted in our family room. I vaguely remember getting up off of the carpet, but then later fainted on the hardwood floors at the foot of our stairs. That was when my husband heard me and came to get me.

I was completely soaked with perspiration and in the morning learned that I actually lost three pounds from the incident. While shortly after fainting, I was able to have several bowel movements, I did not have severe diarrhea (as I anticipated I would) and did not have any abdominal cramping. I will never use this product again.

Review by Nicki

I suffer with constipation as a result of IBS and have the occasional bouts of diarrhea when my tummy decides it wants a change! I took Exlax as a cure for my terrible constipation and not only did it not work it gave me worse constipation than I had originally.

Senokot is said to be good so I tried that once I had recovered from the Exlax incident. It's made from natural products so I thought it may have some chance of working but once again the constipation didn't budge and I was stuck with the tummy aches and constant need to go to the loo even though nothing ever came out.

Review by Ryan

Exlax maximum strength is the worst! I took it at night before bed, woke up at 4am with terrible cramps and sprinted to the bathroom. I spent a half an hour in there curled over. When I thought I was done I cleaned up and reached for the door, but I had more cramps and found myself pulling down my pants at the speed of light.

I went back to bed only to be woken again and running to the bathroom. Throughout the entire day I was embarrassingly sent to the bathroom with the sudden urge to go all day.

Review by Jean

Exlax regular strength is horrible! I took it because I was looking for the gentle, dependable relief that it claims to have. Dependable, yes. Gentle, no! It is not gentle, as it claims to be, at all!

I took it last night, and I was awakened three times in the middle of the night with cramps that had me doubling over! I had more trouble in the morning, as I was getting ready for work. If it weren't for deadlines at work today, I wouldn't be here. Mid-afternoon, I am not racing to the bathroom or dying of cramping as much, but the sudden need to use the bathroom is definitely there. There must be a more gentle method to relieve IBS!

Do you suffer from IBS? Have you tried Exlax? Please contact Sophie to send in your review.