HealthLaxatives For Weight Loss – All Info, Facts & Side Effects In...

Laxatives For Weight Loss – All Info, Facts & Side Effects In Our Guide 2024

Laxatives have been around for over 2000 years. The Ebers Papyrus, an Egyptian medical manuscript from around 1500 BC, describes various herbal remedies for conditions such as constipation.

In 1842 England saw the emergence of Beechams Pills, a contemporary form of laxative. These pills were made up of ginger, aloe and soap ingredients aiming to provide a relief for constipation. Nowadays there exists an array of laxatives, in the market since it appears that nearly everyone experiences constipation at some stage in their lives.

Most laxatives work by helping the bowel to absorb water from the body or by retaining water in the bowel to soften the stool and make it easier to pass. Can laxatives help with weight loss? Laxatives should be used correctly to treat constipation by softening the stool or stimulating bowel movement.

Some individuals hold the belief that a higher frequency of bowel movements can contribute to weight loss. However this outcome is merely momentary since it primarily involves the loss of water, than fat. Laxatives are designed for short term relief of constipation and extended usage by those attempting to shed pounds can result in health complications.

How Are Laxatives Utilized?

The specific dosage and duration of usage depend on the type of laxative being used and the medical condition being treated.Please adhere to the instructions provided with the laxative. Consult your healthcare provider, for guidance. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Stimulants are taken on an empty stomach for rapid effect
  • Mineral oil at bedtime before lying down
  • For suppositories, once a day after a bowel movement
  • For powdered laxatives, mix in a glass of water or juice
  • For liquid laxatives, mix in milk or fruit juice
  • If it has an unpleasant taste, follow with a glass of citrus fruit juice

Why Lose Weight At All?

Weight loss is more than squeezing into smaller jeans or trying to attain an idealized body image. It’s a path, towards health and overall well being. By shedding those pounds you can boost your energy levels decrease the chances of chronic diseases and enhance your overall quality of life.

It’s about feeling lighter in body and mind, gaining confidence in your abilities and experiencing newfound freedom in your activities. Whether it is keeping up with your children, pursuing a hobby or simply enjoying the pleasures of exercise, losing weight is a personal commitment to a happier and healthier version of yourself.

What Exactly Are Laxatives?

Laxatives can help with your digestion. They aren’t a quick fix for everything. Consider them as reminders for your bowels when they’re feeling slow. These remedies, which you can get without a prescription or, with one come in pill or liquid form. They function by either making stools softer or encouraging bowel movements.

While they can provide relief from constipation or irregularity, it is important to use them under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Overuse can lead to dependence. They can disrupt your body’s natural rhythms. Understanding when and how to use laxatives is therefore crucial to maintaining a balanced digestive system.

Different Categories of Laxatives

Categories of laxatives image

When discussing laxatives they are commonly classified into four categories; bulking agents, saline and osmotic preparations, stimulants and surfactants. Among these bulking agents and stool softeners are regarded as laxatives that have adverse effects.

Natural Alternatives for Laxatives

There are many natural alternatives to laxatives that can be just as effective as over-the-counter products in preventing constipation. Best of all, they often come without the side effects commonly associated with options.

There are two categories of fiber; soluble fiber, which absorbs water and insoluble fiber which does not absorb water but assists in increasing the volume of stool. This facilitates the movement, within the system. It is crucial to ensure hydration when consuming either type of fiber.

  • Leafy vegetables, rich in magnesium, which is a common ingredient in OTC laxatives.
  • Berries, a good source of fibre.
  • Apples, high in fibre and known to promote beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Pulses, such as beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas and peanuts, which can help reduce intestinal inflammation.
  • Chia seeds, which provide natural fibre.
  • Flaxseed, which provides fibre and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Rhubarb, oat bran, prunes, aloe vera, coffee and psyllium seeds, among other natural options.
  • Kefir, a probiotic that helps with stool consistency and transit time.
  • Olive oil, which acts as a lubricant.
  • Castor oil, known to stimulate bowel movement.
  • Senna, a plant that stimulates bowel movement and is found in products such as Swiss Kriss.

The majority of the nutrients, calories and fat present in the food you consume are taken in by your body prior, to reaching your colon. Consequently what remains in your system is essentially waste material comprising water and a few minerals that your body does not require.

Using laxatives to lose weight primarily affects the functioning of your colon rather than helping to reduce the amount of fat you have already metabolised. The weight loss achieved by using laxatives is mainly due to water loss rather than fat loss. Drinking fluids to rehydrate will quickly restore the lost weight.

Bulk Laxatives

Bulk laxatives are supplements made of fiber that soak up water resulting in stools that are easier to pass. These fiber supplements are known for being gentle on the body. Are considered a safe choice. Some popular examples include Metamucil and Citrucel along with alternatives, like psyllium seeds.

Osmotic Agents

Osmotic agents work by drawing water from the rest of your body into your bowel, which helps to soften your stools. Some examples of agents are saline products that contain magnesium, sulphate, potassium or phosphate salts. Sugars such as lactose, sorbitol, mannitol and glycerine suppositories can also act as bulking agents. You may have heard of brands such as Phillips Milk of Magnesia, Miralax and Colace, which fall into this category.

Stimulant Laxatives

Stimulant laxatives function by triggering contractions in the muscles of your intestines making it more effortless to stools. This category encompasses surfactants, like docusate and bile salts.

Diphenylmethane derivatives, such as phenolphthalein and bisacodyl (Dulcolax), and substances containing ricinoleic acid, such as castor oil (an ancient remedy), are also in this category. In addition, certain plant-derived compounds known as anthraquinones, which are found in plants such as senna (senokot), aloe vera and rhubarb, belong to this group.


Surfactants are commonly known as stool softeners because they consist of components that hydrate the stool thereby facilitating bowel movements. Mineral oil and glycerine suppositories are, among the instances.

Who Should Use Laxatives?

People who usually use laxatives fall into four categories:

  • Individuals struggling with eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia or binge eating. Their aim is either to achieve a figure or to eliminate food to avoid gaining weight.
  • Middle aged people who turn to laxatives when dealing with constipation or concerns about bowel movements. As the body ages a slower metabolism can affect the regularity of bowel movements.
  • Individuals who perceive themselves as overweight and desire an effortless solution for weight loss.
  • Athletes engaged in forms of training.

Safety Considerations Regarding Laxatives For Weight Loss

Laxatives are mainly used to alleviate constipation and are not considered effective or safe, for weight loss purposes. Medical experts advise against using laxatives as a means of reducing body fat or achieving term sustainable weight loss. In fact misusing laxatives can have consequences and result in various adverse effects.

Damage Caused By Laxative Abuse

Excessive and prolonged use of laxatives can affect your digestive health and significantly increase your risk of developing bowel cancer. According to experts at the Addiction Centre, laxative abuse can also cause side effects that affect various organs, including the liver, kidneys, pancreas, heart and muscle tissue. In addition, prolonged dependence on laxatives can potentially lead to addiction.

Persistent Diarrhea

If you experience diarrhea that lasts for more than a week it can have a significant impact on your overall well being. Using laxatives excessively can weaken the muscles in your bowels making it challenging to have natural bowel movements. This change, in muscle tone can result in episodes of both constipation and diarrhea. The symptoms associated with prolonged diarrhea have been outlined by the Cleveland Clinic;

  • Dark-colored urine
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Dehydration
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness

Electrolyte Imbalance

To keep your body in balance it relies on minerals and salts called electrolytes. These electrolytes consist of calcium, sodium, potassium, chloride, phosphate and magnesium. When there is an irregularity, in these electrolytes you might encounter symptoms;

  • Nausea
  • Throwing up
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Impaired intestinal function
  • Headaches
  • Confusion
  • Heart problems

Better Options for Weight Loss

If you’re looking to shed some pounds the initial move would involve making adjustments to your way of life. This entails adopting a rounded and nourishing diet that includes an assortment of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy oils like olive oil. Additionally incorporating meats and fish that are low in fat and calories would be beneficial. It’s advisable to steer of processed foods, fast food options, as well as sugary and carb heavy treats. Staying hydrated, with plenty of filtered water is also important to prevent any discomfort related to constipation that may contribute to a feeling.

There are things you can do to help you lose weight without using laxatives. Some suggestions include sticking to an exercise routine, getting enough restful sleep, moderating your alcohol intake and avoiding smoking. By making these changes to your lifestyle, you may be able to lose weight without using laxatives. You may also find it helpful to try techniques such as fasting and portion control.

What Are Some Good Methods To Lose Weight Safely And Effectively?

Losing weight successfully involves taking an approach that emphasizes long term well being instead of relying on shortcuts. To get started consider making adjustments, to your eating habits by incorporating an amount of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins while reducing your consumption of processed foods and sugary beverages.

It’s important to get some exercise that suits your fitness level and personal preferences, as this will not only help you lose weight, but also improve your overall wellbeing. Don’t underestimate the power of portion control and mindful eating. Take the time to savour each bite rather than rushing through meals.

Make sure you keep yourself hydrated manage stress effectively and ensure you get sleep. These aspects are vital, for your well being. Additionally it would be beneficial to consult a dietitian who can provide personalized guidance and closely track your progress towards achieving your weight loss objectives in a safe and sustainable manner.

What Are The Best Exercises To Support Weight Loss?

When it comes to shedding those pounds, the best exercises are those that you enjoy and that keep you motivated. Think of it as a journey to a version of yourself rather than a mundane task. Whether it’s taking a leisurely stroll with a friend, grooving to your favourite tunes, or even trying a lively fitness class, discover activities that are truly enjoyable.

Make sure to include some activities, in your routine like working out or taking a refreshing swim on a hot day. And don’t forget about the benefits of strength training—it really gives your body a boost. The important thing is to find a balance and stick with it. So pick activities that align with your lifestyle and personal preferences to make sure your weight loss journey is sustainable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can laxatives really help me lose weight quickly?

No, it’s actually a misconception that laxatives can be effective for fast weight loss. Laxatives work primarily by stimulating bowel movements to relieve constipation. Any weight loss is usually due to water loss rather than actual fat reduction.

Is it safe to rely on laxatives for managing my weight?

No, using laxatives as a means of weight control is not considered safe or recommended. It can cause health problems such as electrolyte imbalances, dehydration and damage to the digestive system. Reliance on laxatives for weight loss can have serious consequences.

Are there any health risks associated with using laxatives for weight loss?

Yes there are health concerns connected to the improper use of laxatives as a means of shedding pounds. These can involve imbalances in electrolytes harm to systems weakened muscles and even the potential for developing a dependency, on laxatives.

What’s the safest way to lose weight effectively?

To lose weight effectively and safely, it is recommended to combine a balanced and nutritious diet, regular physical activity, sufficient sleep and a healthy lifestyle. Seeking the advice of a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can help you achieve your weight loss goals while prioritising safety and sustainability.

Are there any alternatives to laxatives that can promote healthy digestion and aid in weight loss?

Yes, there are! There are alternatives that can support healthy digestion and help with weight management. Eating a diet rich in fibre, staying hydrated, and exercising regularly can help with digestion while promoting gradual and sustained weight loss. It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional to determine the appropriateness of remedies for your specific needs.


While laxatives can help alleviate constipation it’s important not to rely on them for losing body fat since their impact’s only temporary and results in water loss rather, than actual fat reduction.

There is no evidence to support the use of laxatives as a safe or effective approach to weight loss. In addition, laxatives can cause side effects such as diarrhoea and dehydration. Lifestyle changes remain the most effective way to achieve a healthy weight.


  1. Scholar, E. (2008). Laxatives. xPharm: The Comprehensive Pharmacology Reference, pp. 1–3. Link
  2. Portalatin, M. and Winstead, N. (2012). Medical Management of Constipation. Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery, 25(01), pp. 012–019. Link
  3. Cirillo, C. and Capasso, R. (2015). Constipation and Botanical Medicines: An Overview. Phytotherapy Research, 29(10), pp. 1488–1493. Link
  4. Roerig, J.L., Steffen, K.J., Mitchell, J.E., and Zunker, C. (2010). Laxative Abuse. Drugs, 70(12), pp. 1487–1503. Link
Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian & Exercise Nutrition Coach at Catholic Medical Center Brooklyn Queens

Cecilia Lam has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics and is a certified nutritionist-dietitian and exercise nutrition coach. She holds a Precision Nutrition coaching certification and an International Fitness Certification from the International Sports Sciences Association. With ten years of experience in the health and fitness industry, complemented by four years in clinical settings, Cecilia has successfully partnered with a diverse range of clients and organizations worldwide.

Health Coach

Ashley Martinez is a writer specializing in thought leadership articles on healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices. Her work has been published in numerous healthcare magazines that reflect her expertise. With a keen eye for the latest trends and developments in the medical field, Ashley brings a depth of knowledge and insight that informs and inspires her readers. Her commitment to excellence and passion for making a difference in the lives of others shines through in every piece she writes, making her a valuable contributor to the healthcare discourse.


Subscribe Today


Expert content on a wide variety of health topics. Always stay up to date!

* About our Privacy Policy

Exclusive content

More article