We sought to determine the effect of a natural laxative mixture compared with daily prescribed laxatives on bowel movement frequency in elderly long-term care residents. Secondary endpoints included ease of administration and costs of the natural laxative. A randomized controlled trial comparing the effect of the Beverley-Travis natural laxative mixture to prescribed laxatives was conducted over an 8-week period. Subjects were randomized to treatment and control groups; control subjects continued on regularly prescribed laxatives, and treatment group subjects discontinued prescribed laxatives and received 2 tablespoons of the natural laxative mixture twice a day for the remaining 4-week period. Bowel movement frequency and consistency were collected, and ease of natural laxative administration as well as costs associated with use of the natural or prescribed laxatives were calculated. The study included 45 residents, with 34 completing the 8-week study period (16 treatment group subjects and 18 control subjects). Treatment group subjects had a significant increase in average number of bowel movements from 15.5 to 22.2 (P = .007) following initiation of the natural laxative, and no difference in bowel movement frequency was observed among control subjects (P = NS). The natural laxative mixture was rated as "easy" or "very easy" to administer by 90%-92% of nurses, and cost savings of $103.04 was estimated. The Beverley-Travis natural laxative mixture, given at a dosage of 2 tablespoons twice daily, is easy to use, cost-effective, and more effective than daily prescribed laxatives at producing normal bowel movements.