The retail shortage you probably didn’t expect: Laxatives. Thank #GutTok

In 2020, consumers couldn’t find toilet paper on store shelves. This year, they’re have problems with an entirely different product.

Laxatives are in short supply as demand has steadily increased for polyethylene glycol 3350, the generic name for laxatives like Miralax, according to The Wall Street Journal. That’s because not only is the aging population in the U.S. using those sorts of products more frequently, but an increasing number of 18- to 42-year olds are also seeking them out.

Part of the reason for that is social media misinformation. #GutTok is trending on TikTok, with wrong information about what’s healthy in the bathroom.

The Journal, quoting analytics company Pattern, says searches for laxatives have more than tripled in the past year on Amazon, while manufacturers of fiber supplements say they’ve seen sales increase by double-digits.

Eating disorders are also partially to blame, as some people see laxatives as a low-cost way to shed pounds, though that perception is inaccurate. (Overuse of laxatives will lead to dehydration but does not reduce fat.)

Of course, eating habits are also responsible. During the pandemic, many people’s diets changed, with more junk food and processed food items, which can lead to irregularity. Laxatives are safe to use occasionally, but the growing overuse is concerning professionals.

Instead, those doctors suggest eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains for those who want to have more regular bowel movements. It’s not a quick fix, but it also won’t result in potential issues (and you’ll be consuming more vitamins at the same time).

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