People tend to find a shortcut for everything. When it comes to weight loss, everyone wants to choose a hassle-free path that requires fewer efforts and gives result in no-time. These days, there is a trend of consuming laxatives right after a meal, in order to reduce that fat from the body (1). But is this route right? Are laxatives safe? Do they really help lose weight? There are many such doubts that must be cleared before following any method blindly. Let’s discuss them in detail, and see whether they can actually help or not.
What are Laxatives?
Laxatives are the agents that help correct the bowel movement and are mostly used at the time of constipation (2). They are divided into several categories according to their strength and work, like osmotic laxative that aid in the movement of fluids in the intestine; lubricants that lubricate stool, etc. (3).
How Do Laxatives Make You Lose Weight?
Laxatives reduce the time of digestion as they modify the bowel movement. These medicines also remove the toxin from the body so they might help lose water weight. There are many evidences of unintentional weight loss due to them (4). Senna, an herbal laxative, is considered to be the best laxative for weight loss (5). However, the practice of laxative intake is not approved by the doctors and medical science. It does improve gastrointestinal functioning in fast-track hysterectomy (6), but only when used in a proper manner. Researches have shown that the practice of consuming excessive laxatives for losing fat from the body is dangerous (7). It can cause severe health hazards like cathartic colon and melanosis coli (8).
Consequences of Using Laxatives
The side effects resulting due to the use of a laxative may be for short-term or long-term. These effects actually depend on the use of these pills, lifestyle, medical interaction, and food habits. Therefore, a side effect seen in one person may not be present in another. Some of the common ones are as follows.
1. Nausea and Vomiting
Another side effect of using too much laxative is diarrhea (11). Diarrhea is defined as a watery bowel movement (12). Another study indicates that stimulant laxative can lead to factitious diarrhea (13).
The overuse of laxatives can also lead to fainting. It is not actually a direct side effect. It is caused due to dehydration that happens due to laxatives (14).
Dizziness is basically the feeling of floating sensation. A person can sometimes feel the illusion of movement of the environment or things around (15). People who consume laxatives regularly may experience it. However, it can be caused due to dehydration, as well.
5. Rectal Bleeding
This is the most common side effect of laxative overdose (18). It is the condition when the body does not have enough water or fluid (19). As laxative removes the toxins and fluid from the body, dehydration is the major problem that can be severe.
7. Stomach Cramp
Stomach cramp or abdominal pain can be felt if you are using too many laxatives (20). It is mostly the result of consumption of senna. They are temporary and will be diminished once the intake of laxative is halted.
Constipation usually results from not eating fibers or drinking enough food, but it can be the result of misuse of these medicines, as well (21). So, it is better to avoid these and use them only if prescribed.
9. Functional Damage of Intestine
The mild laxatives can help with some gastrointestinal problems, but the consumption of harsh or strong laxatives can damage the proper functioning of the intestine or the whole tract, especially colon (22).
It is clear that laxatives do not help shed pounds or inches, and it is proven by many trials and studies also (23). Therefore, instead of consuming laxatives blindly, try other methods of losing weight.
Laxatives might help solve some other problems, but not in reducing fat from the body. As it mostly reduces the water weight and once the use of these medicines is stopped, the body will regain the lost water weight.
Moreover, you should not consume laxatives without consulting a doctor as there are so many side effects.
Instead of these pills or medicines, you can try natural laxatives like coconut water that do not have any health implications.