The Americans are violently oral… Even the American passion for laxatives can be explained as an oral manifestation. They want to get rid of any unpleasantness taken in through the mouth.
Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty might have been sponsored by a laxative company.
For a year, beginning in 1884, the Statue of Liberty sat in a courtyard belonging to Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi the French sculptor who designed it. He’d finished building it, but the pedestal wasn’t ready in the US – $100,000 was needed to complete it. La Monde began a campaign to raise the money which began to pour in.
Laxative makers Castoria offered to give $25,000 provided the name of their laxative would be displayed at the top of the statue for a year – the offer was politely declined.
Lots of sugar-free sweets contain lycasin, a glucose syrup almost as sweet as sugar but with only half the calories. Lycasin is a powerful laxative if taken in large quantities. Unfortunately, our systems can’t fully digest it and it ferments in our colon, causing bloating, wind, loose stools and stomach rumbles. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2002 concluded that the ingestion by an adult of 40g of lycasin-sweetened confectionery was enough to cause these symptoms.
Taken in moderation, sweets containing lycasin are perfectly safe, but people don’t take them in moderation. Sugar-free Haribo gummy bears are sold in 3kg bags – that’s 57 times the amount needed to cause bloating, loose stools etc.
The Amazon page selling them clearly warns: ‘may cause stomach discomfort and/or a laxative effect’. The same page has over 250 comments from those who ignored the warning. Here are some of the milder comments:
‘Stomach discomfort turns out to be a massive understatement’;
‘trumpets calling the demons back to Hell’;
‘guttural pronouncement so loud it threatened to drown out my own voice’;
and ‘flammable liquid. NAPALM’, are some of the milder comments.
The word ‘rhubarb’ may be a contraction of rheum-barbarum, from the Greek rheuma, ‘that which flows’. This word was used for rivers, lava, or bodily discharges, hence Linnaeus’ botanical name Rheum, since rhubarb was used from ancient times as a laxative. This fact almost led to a diplomatic crisis during the Opium Wars (1839-42).
Until The Rhubarb Triangle started in the 1870s, most rhubarb came from China. In 1839, the imperial Chinese commissioner Lin Zexu wrote a letter to Queen Victoria warning that, unless the British stopped supplying opium to China, he would cut off rhubarb supplies to Britain, killing everyone through mass constipation. It seems that the Queen never had the letter translated, and so remained unaware of the danger. In the event, the British sent an army from India to force the Chinese to accept British opium imports.
Until the 1920’s, mental patients were sedated by being fed ‘croton oil’ – the world’s most powerful known laxative.
In bingo, ‘Doctors orders’ is 9 because in the Second World War, No 9 was a laxative handed out by medics.
Coconut is a laxative.
The overuse of laxatives can cause constipation.