Using laxatives for weight loss

Published:June 8th, 2012


In order to lose weight quick and easy, many people are willing to try just about anything. These days, one very popular technique of losing weight is through the use of laxatives. Laxatives (a.k.a. purgatives, aperients) are foods or drugs commonly used to relieve and prevent constipation. These substances increase the movement of fecal matter along the large intestine.

Contrary, to what most people know, laxatives for weight loss purposes are entirely different from the ones used to stimulate bowel movement. These usually come in the form of teas or pills. Laxatives of such type are often deceptively marketed as slimming tea or dieter’s tea. Their active ingredients typically include aloe, buckthorn, cascara, castor oil, rhubarb root, and senna.

Whether or not laxatives are good or effective tools for losing weight remains a question. Despite the number of claims attesting to the efficacy of these substances, there is also a plethora or multitude of information stating otherwise, that is, taking laxatives profusely, in excess or for the long-term for any reason is extremely dangerous as it can lead to serious medical/health problems. According to one prominent and reputable eating disorders organization, weight control through the use of laxatives is unfounded, erroneous and misleading. They say that weight loss from laxatives is mainly a loss of water weight or body fluids which easily returns or is replaced once the body is rehydrated, thus nullifying the perceived loss of weight. And because laxatives act on the colon or large intestine and not on the small intestines where much of the nutrient absorption and assimilation occurs, calorie intake is thus undeterred.

How do laxatives work?

Basically, laxatives meant for weight loss purposes work by preventing fatty substances from being digested, absorbed, and assimilated in the body which ultimately results to greasy diarrhea. By hastening the rate of bowel activity, these substances also prevent the colon from absorbing both water and minerals. Because laxatives interfere with the normal absorption of food, weight gain is thereby prevented. Slim tea or dieter’s tea in general aids in the process of toxin removal and assures speedy bowel movement, impeding food absorption and calorie intake. Components of these teas contribute to irritation of the colon as well as frequent passage of feces. Moreover, these substances are believed to aid with burning of fat, relief of stress, curbing of appetite, reducing of blood pressure, and boosting of the immune system. These claims, however, are yet to be backed with sound, and conclusive scientific findings.

Risks involved with the overuse of laxatives

Some of the risks or dangers involved in the overuse of laxatives for weight loss include: severe fluid depletion or dehydration that may manifest as lightheadedness or nausea, fainting, exhaustion, irregular reflexes, cardiac arrest or heart attack and even death; disruption of the normal functioning pattern of the colon or the entire digestive system; deficient or non-absorption of nutrients from foods consumed due to the constant emptying of the large intestines; colon infections; irritable bowel syndrome; liver damage; intestinal paralysis, pancreatitis, renal failure, and colon cancer. Laxatives when taken in doses way beyond the acceptable or normal values may lead to pernicious side effects such as vomiting, rectal bleeding, electrolyte imbalance/disorder, osteomalacia (due to mineral depletion, thereby resulting to soft and fragile bones), and chronic diarrhea.

Regular or continual intake of laxatives for a great amount of time ultimately results in chronic constipation and stomach pain. Prolonged use of laxatives can lead to sensations of bloating, stomach cramping and discomfort, choking, throat irritation, belching, urine discoloration, and bloody stools leading to anemia. Overuse of laxatives for the purpose of shedding some pounds may lead to the development of eating disorders such as compulsive and binge eating, bulimia, and anorexia. Laxative abuse may also interfere with a woman’s menstrual period and affect her ability to get pregnant.



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