The French Laxative That My Most Constipated Friends Swear By

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Photo: Getty Images

You have your high-school friends, your work friends, your violin-camp friends (or maybe that’s just me), and of course, your poop friends — friends who love to talk about poop. “Guys, I haven’t gone in a week,” wrote one of my friends in a group text, leading everyone to chime in with Edvard Munch–face emojis and their own solutions for sweet release. My friend Julie Schott of Elle.com even has a recurring Instagram Story thread called #PoopTalk.

It’s not just my social circle. Salma Hayek recently told a group of editors about how magnesium makes her sleep and [whistle]. Even my mom is a poop-talker — she personally swears by a mix of coffee and Japanese sweet potatoes (the benefit Olivia Munn never shared). I am not a poop-talking friend, but I am a poop-listening friend, and recently, I became a French-drugstore-laxative-smuggling friend.

Not only do French drugstores make high-quality beauty products like moisturizers and makeup removers, but they’re also an excellent source of anti-blockage aids. Fruit et Fibres became popular among my friends after one of them, who spent several years working and studying abroad in Paris, recommended it. She found it to be the best through trial and error. “It’s just efficient,” she said of why she prefers the Fibres. “It’s an elegant poop.” (Less cumbersome than a Squatty Potty, one imagines.)

As far as anti-constipation drugs go, Fruit et Fibres are pretty elegant. They come in a hefty box which you can sometimes find on sale at legendary French drugstore City Pharma in packs of two. (You can also ask for them by name at any French drugstore, although not all of them carry it.) Each box contains 12 tiny rectangles individually wrapped in waxed paper, not unlike a fancy bonbon. They smell and taste pleasantly like the inside of a Fig Newton. Ortis, their manufacturer, says they contain only “natural” ingredients, like fig, tamarind, and rhubarb.

The reviews online and in my friend circle are raves. “What a delicious way to get your things done!” raves one. “This stuff is magic, gentle, natural and predictable,” says another. I brought four packs of them home in my suitcase from my last trip to Paris and gave them to my poop-talking friends. “It’s so lovely. I felt so scooped out and wonderful,” one of my friends enthused. The others responded simply and un-hyperbolically that they were magic.

According to the internet research I’ve done, the Fibres work because the main ingredient, figs, are a great source of fiber, and help to move things along in the digestive track. A recent randomized, double-blind study in Korea tested out figs’ efficacy by giving one poop-challenged group fig paste and the other a placebo paste made of sugar for eight weeks. The results indicate there be may some science as to why the Fibres are helpful: Those in the fig-paste group showed a significant reduction in pooping time, type, and stomach pain.

Ortis suggests you take one square daily with a large glass of water. The consensus among my friends is that first-timers should start out with half a cube and not go anywhere for a while. They’re available on Amazon, and if you’re looking for a delicate way to explain your condition at a French pharmacy, you can say that you’re looking for something to aid with “transit facile,” or easy transit. Consider it the 98th thing you’ve learned to do like a French girl.

Ortis Fruit and Fibres
Photo: Amazon
Ortis Fruit and Fibres
$12, Amazon
The French Laxative My Most Constipated Friends Swear By