Myths About Laxatives

Laxatives usage and effects are widely discussed over the internet until there are lots of confusing whether certain claim is truth or just myth. In this page, we will walk you through three myths about laxatives that has been busted.

(1) Laxatives are effective for weight control

Often, many individuals falsely believe that taking purgatives after bingeing will rush food and calories through the colons and bowels before they can be absorbed.  In fact, by the time laxatives take effect on the large intestines, most food and calories have already been digested by small intestines. The temporary “weight loss” is cause by loss of water, electrolytes, minerals, indigestible fibre and wastes from colons. The water lost weight will soon be replenished when individual drinks fluids after taking their purgatives. Dehydration and serious medical complications could happen if laxatives consumed continuously without liquid intake.

Laxative abuse is often done to lose weight, individuals try to prevent calories absorption and lose weight through repeat and frequent use of laxatives. Not only this is wrong perception, this habit may cause colons requires more laxatives to achieve the same effects and eventually addiction to laxatives both physically and emotionally. Long usage of purgatives may cause permanent damage to the colons, resulting in various health complications and sometime life-threatening conditions.

(2) Individuals need to use a laxative every time they feel constipated

Frequency of bowel movement varies across people with different age group and health condition, “feeling” constipated does not always implies you are constipated. Poor eating habits, stress, disruption of routine or travelling can also cause occasional constipation and this does not need to be treated with laxatives right away.

(3) All laxatives are alike

The fact is there are many different types of laxatives sold in different forms either for oral or rectal intake. Thought they give you the same result, they react differently with different effective duration and side effects.

Laxatives misuse is extremely dangerous especially the stimulant purgatives such as bisacodyl (Dulcolax), Senna (Senokot), pheolphthalien, and castor oil. They stimulate the nerves in the intestines and causes the muscles to contract and force the wastes out from the bowel. Overtime, the muscles become weekend and the colons cannot send a signal for a normal bowel movement without larger amounts of laxatives. This may lead to “lazy” colons, colon infections and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Some of the potential side effects from laxatives abuse include dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, lower blood pressure and vomiting. Overuse of osmotic laxatives can cause loss of body fluids and level changes of important minerals in our body that can lead to kidney stones, heart and muscle problems. Electrolytes imbalances such as sodium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus may cause heart attack, muscle spasms, kidney failure, urinary tract infection, tremors or even leading to death for severe cases. Severe dehydration from laxatives use may cause blurry vision, fainting, kidney damage, tremors, weakness, or death in extreme occasion.

It was never easy to be free from laxatives addiction, individuals need to work very closely with their professional health care physicians and get support from family and friends.