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What Is Dantron?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 17, 2024
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Dantron is a laxative medication withdrawn from the market in many nations due to concerns about potential toxicity. In regions where it is available, access may be restricted to specific patients, while others have no such restrictions. The medication can stimulate bowel movements within six to 12 hours after a dose, and may help patients with severe constipation caused by opioids as well as other medications known to interrupt bowel function. Patients who wish to use it may want to discuss their options with a medical provider to determine if it is the best choice.

This compound was originally derived from natural chemicals found in trees and used as laxatives for over a century before potential concerns about carcinogens developed. Doses depend on a patient’s weight and age. If the medication doesn’t seem to be working, the patient may be advised to wait before taking a second dose in case it is just acting slowly. Waiting can prevent extreme discomfort caused by an excessive amount of dantron in the gut.

The most common known side effect of this drug is urine discoloration. Patients on dantron will notice that their urine turns red; this may explain why the compound is also sometimes used as a dye. This should resolve after patients stop taking the drug. People can also experience nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramping while using dantron to manage constipation.

Animal studies in several nations indicated that dantron may be carcinogenic, although no specific human research has verified these data. On the basis of this information, some countries decided to ban or restrict the medication because they felt the benefits didn’t outweigh the risks. Other laxatives are available for patients who need them, and these medications are known to be safe for use. There are also concerns that dantron may cause fetal abnormalities, and it is generally advised against in pregnancy.

Some nations allow terminally ill patients to use dantron because it can be a highly effective laxative. People with terminal illnesses often require high doses of opioids to control pain, which can result in severe constipation that may resist treatment with less robust drugs. Typically, these patients will die from underlying medical problems long before any carcinogenic effects of dantron manifest, and they may benefit from permission for compassionate use. They may be advised to keep the medication in a secure location to prevent unauthorized people from accessing it, and to dispose of unused pills properly.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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