PureLax is a laxative that contains PEG 3350 powder, a controversial ingredient similar to antifreeze that has been linked to neuropsychiatric events, seizures, metabolic acidosis, and other side effects.
What is PureLax?
PureLax is an over-the-counter laxative sold by the drugstore CVS that is very similar to MiraLax. The active ingredient in both medications is Polyethylene Glycol 3350 (“PEG 3350”), a powder that is mixed with water and taken by mouth. It is an osmotic laxative that relieves constipation by increasing the amount of water in stools.
What is PEG 3350?
PEG 3350 is a powdered medication that comes from petroleum. It is made of Ethylene Glycol (EG), a toxic antifreeze chemical, but PEG 3350 is far less toxic than EG because very little is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach or intestines of an adult. However, small amounts of EG may remain in PEG 3350 as impurities left over from manufacturing. This is why it is only approved for short-term use.
Should Children Use PureLax?
PureLax is NOT approved for children, but many parents give PureLax to their children for years. Doctors may recommend PureLax, falsely believing it is safe because it is poorly-absorbed by adults. No one knows how children absorb PureLax.
Who Can Use PureLax?
PureLax is only approved for adults over 17 years old, one dose a day (up to 17g), up to 7 days at a time, and only for occasional constipation — not chronic intestinal diseases.
How is PureLax Absorbed in the Body?
PureLax is poorly absorbed in the body of a healthy adult, but no one knows how much is absorbed by children — especially very young children with chronic constipation. Their irritated intestinal systems may have less of a barrier against toxins. Over time, constipation can also stretch out the intestines and cause abnormal permeability. This disease is also known as “Leaky Gut Syndrome.”
What Are the Long-Term Risks?
PureLax has not been studied for long-term safety and no one knows the risk of permanent side effects, especially in children. However, thousands of people have reported seizures, psychiatric, or behavioral side effects after taking PEG laxatives.
FDA Investigates Reports of Metabolic Acidosis
The FDA Drug Safety Oversight Board warned about a possible risk of high anion-gap metabolic acidosis, a condition involving too much acid in the blood. It can be a mild ongoing problem, or a life-threatening disorder. Metabolic acidosis is a common complication of antifreeze poisoning.
FDA Warnings for Neuropsychiatric Side Effects
The FDA closed its safety investigation into PEG laxatives in 2011, but neuropsychiatric events are listed as a “possible side effect” based on voluntary adverse event reports. The reported side effects include:
- Obsessive-compulsive behaviors
- Repetitive chewing and sucking
- Mood swings
What Are the Side Effects of PureLax?
Allergic reaction: Do not use PureLax if you are allergic to PEG 3350.
Kidney problems: Do not use PureLax if you have kidney disease, except under the advice and supervision of a doctor.
Serious Intestinal Problems: Ask a doctor before taking PureLax if you have nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, a sudden change in bowel habits that lasts over 2 weeks, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or other intestinal disease. PureLax can cause loose, watery, more frequent stools. Stop using PureLax and talk to a doctor if:
- You experience rectal bleeding or worsening nausea, bloating, cramping, or abdominal pain. These may be warning signs of a serious condition.
- You get diarrhea
- You need to use a laxative for more than a week. PureLax is only approved for occasional use, up to 7 days.