Is It Safe To Use Laxatives For Weight Loss Results?The issue of safety of laxative-use for people who are looking to shed weight is a relative issue. Many believe the end justifies the means, as what matters is that you can look hot, fit into the expensive dress you bought or qualify for that weight category in that competition. All that said, from a medical perspective and the overall effect on the body, many sources and studies have shown that the use of laxative in order to lose those extra pounds is detrimental to our well-being.Laxatives and What They DoTo start with, what are laxatives and what do they do? Laxatives according to the medical dictionary are products that promote bowel movement, and they were manufactured to treat constipation (“laxatives”, 2018). They are drugs that enhance peristalsis in the gastrointestinal tracts causing the individuals to purge and evacuate the bowel of its content. It was also noted that it is frequently used by people who participate in sporting events that have to do with weight categories grouping. In order to benefit from the preferred weight category, they use laxatives in combination with some special form of diet, to lose weight rapidly. Although by doing this, they risk endangering their physical performance because they may be exposed to side effects like heat exhaustion, impairments in the cognitive function etc. These drugs were taken traditionally and normally by people for the purpose of passing soft textured stool easily after a period of standstill in the gastrointestinal tract (“Over-the-counter laxatives for constipation: Use with caution”, 2018). According to the article on eating disorders written by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2016), when used in this manner, it may also cause overdependence found in eating disorders like bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa. How Laxatives WorkIn addition, to understand how laxative pills endanger us, it is necessary to have a little insight into the way laxatives carry out their purgative function in our body. In the medical field or pharmaceutical field, this is called the mechanism of action, as it shows exactly how the drugs interact with our system to produce its desired result. They work by promoting the incorporation of water and lipid into the stool although it may lead to severe diarrhoea and serious dehydration. Hyperosmotic laxatives like lactulose can be further used in treating hepatic encephalopathy as they promote the excretion of ammonium ion.There are a couple of laxatives with slightly differing mechanisms. Some of them are Saline cathartics like the popular milk of magnesia (magnesium hydroxide) which produces watery stool by drawing and retaining water in the intestinal tracts to produce a watery stool. The most effective of the drugs in this class is Magnesium sulphate or Epsom salts.Stimulant and irritant laxatives like Bisadocyl creates an increase in the bowel movement, the castor oil has similar mechanism while Bulk-producing laxatives increase the stool volume as they soften the stool and helps its movement. There is the mineral oil that also softens the stool by reducing water absorption in the colon. By now, you get the picture and they all have side effects but using drugs have always come with a price. They are chemicals and compounds which help our health and the body also tries to get rid of the toxic effects that they bring along. Dangers of Using Laxatives for Weight Loss So the conversation is not necessarily about the side effects they may cause, it is about the dangers they may expose us to if used on a daily basis with dependence, especially in the case of weight loss solely because of its mechanism. Since the way it works is by eliminating water from the body, what gets out is not only the water. It also eliminates useful ions that are necessary for life, leading to electrolyte imbalance. The water is not pure water anymore, as it is already a solution and the solutes that are within the solution also get excreted as well as the water. According to Kimberly Holland (Holland, 2017), this state of imbalance quickly exposes the body to fatigue, lethargy, nausea, further diarrhea and a faster heartbeat. When one’s heart starts pounding, one will most likely start to panic and a fast heart rate is not good for the heart as it causes the cardiac muscles, the muscles of the heart, stress. Other symptoms that accompany the electrolyte imbalance that will be experienced include, confusion, which is not good for anyone, be it an athlete or not. There is also muscle weakness, remember there are muscles in a lot of places from the heart to the walls of the colon. So, with the excessive and prolonged use of these pills, the body starts to get stressed more often and the initial dose of drugs needed to create the same effect becomes less effective, making the muscles less responsive to normal dosesAccording to a professional Nurse, Carol McLoughlin ( McLoughlin, 2004), laxatives can also be used in intestinal preparation for surgery and other investigative procedures. But she also added a word of caution as she duly noted that there are many over the counter laxatives that are available to the public and if used without prescription could lead to multiple organ-system failures. Such examples are the destruction of muscle cells in rhabdomyolysis, atony of the muscle wall of the colon, pancreatic failure, liver and kidney failure (Link, 2017).In conclusion, the debate about weight loss in the health community has always been about a healthy lifestyle and not a quick fix. It has to do with a paradigm shift which involves choosing a properly balanced diet suited to a particular individual and area. It involves proper maintenance of one’s social and physical well-being by taking proper rests and carrying out routine exercises. If this is done, there won’t be a huge need for sudden and rapid control of one’s body weight that may tempt one to use an overload of laxatives over a short period of time. In another group, the athletes, there are improved ways to maximize one’s potential and weight category without endangering one’s health. I will end with the mantra of the American professional wrestler, mixed martial artist, professional American football player, and the current universal champion, “Eat, Sleep, Conquer and Repeat” (WWE).?
ReferencesHolland, K. (2017). Electrolyte Disorders: Types, Symptoms, and Causes. Healthline. Retrieved 20 January 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/health/electrolyte-disorderslaxatives. (2018). TheFreeDictionary.com. Retrieved 20 January 2018, from https://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/laxativesLink, R. (2017). Laxatives for Weight Loss: Do They Work and Are They Safe?. Healthline. Retrieved 20 January 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/laxatives-for-weight-lossMcLoughlin, C. (2004). Laxatives. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 20 January 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15971878?report=abstractNIMH. (2016). NIMH » Eating Disorders. Nimh.nih.gov. Retrieved 20 January 2018, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/eating-disorders/index.shtmlOver-the-counter laxatives for constipation: Use with caution. (2018). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved 20 January 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation/in-depth/laxatives/art-20045906WWE. Brock Lesnar. WWE. Retrieved 20 January 2018, from http://www.wwe.com/superstars/brock-lesnar