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Ex-lax & Weight Loss

author image Tracii Hanes
Based in Las Vegas, Tracii Hanes is a freelance writer specializing in health and psychology with over seven years of professional experience. She got her start as a news reporter and has since focused exclusively on freelance writing, contributing to websites like Wellsphere, Education Portal and more. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication arts from Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
Ex-lax & Weight Loss
Prolonged abuse of Ex-lax to lose weight can lead to electrolyte imbalance and cardiac arrest. Photo Credit Catherine Yeulet/iStock/Getty Images

If you're looking to lose weight, using laxatives might seem like a way to keep your body from absorbing the calories in food. However, this isn't an effective weight loss method and can lead to serious health complications. Ex-lax is an over-the-counter laxative used to treat constipation. Taking Ex-Lax to help you lose weight could jeopardize your health and won't lead to permanent weight loss in any case.


Ex-lax & Weight Loss
Ex-lax is available over-the-counter. Photo Credit Dmitry Kalinovsky/iStock/Getty Images

Ex-lax is a stimulant laxative containing sennosides. It is available over the counter and is used for temporary relief of constipation. Less commonly, laxatives may be used to treat certain bowel disorders or to prepare the bowel for surgery. Despite the potential for serious side effects, laxatives like Ex-lax are sometimes abused by people with eating disorders and others seeking to lose weight.


Ex-lax & Weight Loss
Ex-lax works by stimulating peristalsis. Photo Credit David Lentz/iStock/Getty Images

Ex-lax works by stimulating peristalsis -- the movements of the intestines that produce bowel movements -- as well as altering water secretion in the bowel. It generally produces a bowel movement within 6 to 12 hours, temporarily relieving constipation and accompanying symptoms like bloating and feelings of fullness.


Ex-lax & Weight Loss
Ex-lax does not prevent the absorption of fat from food. Photo Credit matthewennisphotography/iStock/Getty Images

The belief that taking laxatives like Ex-lax will prevent the absorption of fat from food is incorrect and potentially harmful. While they can reduce water retention, laxatives are not useful for weight loss in the absence of constipation. Ex-lax does not affect the small intestine where nutrient absorption occurs, making it ineffective for preventing fat and calorie assimilation.

Health Risks

Ex-lax & Weight Loss
Using Ex-lax for prolonged periods can lead to serious complications. Photo Credit Iromaya Images/Iromaya/Getty Images

Using Ex-lax for prolonged periods or in high doses may lead to serious complications. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, laxative abuse can cause electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, weakness, kidney malfunction, tremors and blurred vision. Brown University Health Services warns about the risks of cardiac arrest and other heart problems that can result from chronic diarrhea triggered by laxative abuse. Using Ex-lax for prolonged periods may also result in laxative dependence, a condition in which the bowels lose the ability to function on their own. This “reflex constipation” creates the need for further laxative use, leading to a vicious cycle of abuse and withdrawal.

Safety Precautions

Ex-lax & Weight Loss
Avoid using Ex-lax to lose weight. Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

The only way to prevent serious side effects is to avoid using Ex-lax to lose weight. The Ex-lax website warns against using the product for longer than one week or when abdominal pain, vomiting or nausea are present. Follow dosing directions carefully and stop taking Ex-lax if you experience anal bleeding or other troubling side effects.


Ex-lax & Weight Loss
A healthy diet and exercise are the only weight loss methods considered safe and effective for long-term weight management. Photo Credit Maridav/iStock/Getty Images

To date, a healthy diet and exercise are the only weight loss methods considered safe and effective for long-term weight management. Patients with hard-to-treat obesity may be candidates for treatment with prescription medications, surgeries or other therapies.

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