Struggling with weight for years or wanting to lose weight rapidly may have caused you to consider using a laxative, such as Dulcolax, to aid your weight loss efforts. Dulcolax irritates the smooth muscle of large intestine and causes the colon to draw more water from the body to increase the speed at which you can have a bowel movement, according to the American Cancer Society. Unfortunately, overuse of laxatives can cause both physical and psychological problems.
Misconceptions About Laxatives
The concept behind using laxatives for weight loss revolves around the belief that a laxative will make food move through the body quicker. Users of laxatives think that if food goes through the body faster, the body absorbs fewer calories. A decrease in the number of calories your body has access to will allow you to lose weight faster.
The body absorbs most nutrients as food passes through the small intestine. Your small intestine contains millions of microscopic, finger-like projections called villi designed for nutrient absorption, according to Gary A. Thibodeau and Kevin T. Patton, authors of the book “Structure and Function of the Body 13th Edition.” Inside each villus lies a rich network of blood capillaries that transport the calories, amino acids, sugars and fatty acids to the rest of the body. The large intestine absorbs only a small portion of water, salts and vitamins that escaped absorption in the small intestines, Thibodeau and Patton explain. The only weight lost by using Dulcolax is water weight.
Risks of Laxative Use
The use of Dulcolax for weight loss can lead to serious health problems. Dulcolax can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, which decrease the functioning ability of your muscles, nerves and vital organs, according to Go Ask Alice, which is provided by Columbia University’s health services department. Long-term use or excessive use of laxatives may cause your body to lose its ability to produce a bowel movement without the aid of a laxative, advises Dr. Michael Hall, a family physician for DuBois Regional Health Center in DuBois, Pennsylvania. He explains that you can also become psychologically addicted to the use of laxatives for weight loss. This psychological dependence can result in eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia.
Never use Dulcolax or any other stool softener for more than a week without the advice and supervision of a doctor, Hall advises. The official Dulcolax website recommends using the smallest amount of Dulcolax possible to produce a bowel movement when suffering from constipation; the smallest amount equals 17 grams of Dulcolax Balance, one liquid gel of Dulcolax Stool Softener, one Dulcolax tablet or one Dulcolax suppository.
For Your Health
Weight loss with your health in mind requires you to eat a low-calorie, balanced diet and to exercise regularly. A balanced diet includes plenty of water, fruits, whole grains and vegetables in your daily meal plans. Alcohol, flavored beverages, sugars and processed foods only add calories to your diet without giving you many vitamins or nutrients.
- Dr. Michael Hall: DuBois Regional Medical Center
- Drugs.com: Dulcolax
- Go Ask Alice!: Laxative Abuse
- Structure and Function of the Body; Gary A. Thibodeau, PhD, et al.
- FamilyDoctor.org: Laxatives -- Over the Counter Laxatives for Constipation
- Brown University Health Services: Laxative Abuse