Laxative Diet Works, But At What Cost? Advises Dr. Oz

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2013-01-30 12:21

On a recent episode of The Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Oz introduces viewers to a problem that he states has been hidden and clouded in shame and at its very core leads to abuse: women who go on a laxative diet to lose weight.

“Laxatives―millions of women are using them to lose weight and there’s a pretty good chance you or your friends are using them. Misuse can lead to irreversible physical damage, and cause the women who use them to spiral out of control,” says Dr. Oz as he tells viewers about one special guest named “Shanna” who on a laxative diet went from 260 pounds to 78 pounds. “This, is laxative dieting,” states Dr. Oz.

“I am a laxative addict,” states 42-year-old Shanna who tells a story shared by many women. Overweight as a child and teenager, she eventually grew to become an obese adult who could no longer bear the way she looked. Shanna began with a normal diet and exercise program to lose weight and was successful at losing approximately 120 pounds. However, she reached a plateau where no matter what she did, the additional pounds she wanted to lose would not come off with her diet and exercise plan. And then one day, she read somewhere about using laxatives to lose weight.

“I started by just taking 1 or 2 laxatives a day and then I needed to start taking more, and I went up to 10 or 12. Now my laxative use at nighttime has increased up to 30-40 pills…I wake up during the night anywhere from 2-5 times...I looked down and I saw blood in my urine…my stomach is just killing me and its miserable and I can’t sleep. I wish that I could just wake up normal,” says Shanna.

However, just saying no to laxatives once you’ve become addicted to them is not so easy as your body goes into a type of withdrawal when the laxatives stop.

“I’ve tried to cut back, but then you just bloat up and it’s an uncomfortable feeling. Everything gets hard like around your middle section, and then after a while you can’t eat or drink anything,” says Shanna.

Dr. Oz explains that Shanna’s difficulty in going off laxatives and the pain she is in, is a result of when you take too much of anything like laxatives that winds up damaging the intestines―damage that then prevents your digestive system from working the way it should when you try to go back to a normal diet.

Dr. Oz tells viewers that laxatives come in 4 types that range in intensity:

Laxative Type #1: The least powerful laxative is a fiber-based laxative that bulks up the stool and helps it pass naturally through the digestive system.

Laxative Type #2: The next laxative type that is a little stronger are the osmotic laxatives that work by drawing water into the intestine and helps the stool move through quicker.

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Laxative Type #3: A stronger laxative type is the stool softeners that make the stool soft and is used for people who are constipated and having difficult bowel movements.

Laxative Type #4: The strongest laxative type is the stimulant laxatives that actually irritate the intestinal walls forcing the body to expel whatever is in the digestive tract.

As it turns out, the 4th type of laxative is the one Shanna uses and is the cause of her health problems. Dr. Oz explains to viewers through an animated video how that stimulant laxatives actively irritate the bowels, which causes not only food and waste to pass through very quickly and forcefully, but also inhibits the absorption of nutrients. The suppressed nutrient absorption is why weight is lost so dramatically in people like Shanna who go on a laxative diet.

“It’s not a way that the body can sustain itself—it’s just not worth the price you pay,” says Dr. Oz.

To help Shanna with her laxative addiction, Dr. Oz introduces a second special guest, Tennie McCarty, a therapist who earlier in her life had once been addicted to laxatives.

Ms. McCarty tells of how that she had once been morbidly obese at 300 pounds and had stomach bypass surgery to treat her obesity. During that time she realized that having constant diarrhea after the surgery caused her to lose weight. And so, when her diarrhea eventually went away, the pounds came back and she turned to laxatives to lose weight. At one point, her addiction to laxatives got so bad that she was taking 100-125 laxatives a day and became very ill before discovering that she had an addiction and got help.

Dr. Oz points out that the insidiousness of a laxative diet is that to many women it seems like such an easy, quick and safe way to drop a few pounds before a wedding or some other event as evidenced by at least a few women in the audience who admit to taking laxatives on occasional and in some cases a longer-term basis to lose weight.

Furthermore, Dr. Oz points out that not only are you starving your body, but in the process you may also be unknowingly harming your internal organs with excessive laxative use, such as with:

• The brain—excessive laxative use can cause an electrolyte imbalance in the brain that can then cause a fatal seizure.

• The colon―excessive laxative use can damage the colon lining to such a point that you may have to have to have a colostomy bag—for life.

• The kidneys—both short term bleeding and long term damage can be caused by laxative abuse.

• The heart—excessive laxative use can cause the heart to stop beating because it is not getting the nutrients it needs to support its pumping action.

The first part of recovering from a laxative addiction is admitting to yourself that you have a problem, and then finding a health professional who deals with addiction and let them know what you are going through.

For Shanna, Dr. Oz has arranged for her to be treated by Ms. McCarty to help her put a stop to her laxative addiction. Ms. McCarty states that while there is a physical component, that like many addictions what goes on “between the ears” is the biggest part of initiating successful treatment with counseling and therapy. She also states that for women like those in the audience who admitted to using laxatives for weight loss, but are not to the same level of addiction that Shanna is, also need to seek help before they too wind up like Shanna.

For more information about eating disorders such as laxative abuse, follow this link to an article titled “Eating Disorders and Laxative Abuse” by Ms. McCarty.

Image Source: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Reference: The Dr. Oz Show― “Laxatives: A Dangerous New Weight-Loss Trend”

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Comments

I'm 17 years,from South Africa & I'm struggling with weight.I feel like resorting to laxatives,but I can't afford to lose my curves.But then again my arms are fat for my age,I don't gain weight at my abodominal areas.But my arms are a big problem.I'm using USN products,eating mostly healthy food and I exercise when I have the chance.But I just can't lose the weight.Please help
To get down to 78 pounds is extreme. However I'm looking to lose 20 lbs. & using laxatives to do so. Thanks for letting me know that laxatives do work!!!!!
I am 26 and 222Lbs i have lost 35Lbs in two months threw less than 600 calories a day and 6 hours of excersise but it has stopped working 2 weeks and have not lost a pound, I am concidering laxatives, I need a quick fix burning over 3500 calories a day isnt dropping a pound a day anymore and i have 21 days to drop 21Lbs
If you starve yourself of calories the body stores them. I know this from personal experience and soon you'll be exhausted. Have a week off exercise. Although laxatives (dulcolax or similar) should never be encouraged, if you're going to do it, take one after evening meal and be close to the bathroom for 10 hours. Expect stomach cramps and major discomfort but it might get u off that plateau as it did for me
to anyone that reads this i hope it saves you, laxatives are not what they seem, in a way they do get rid of weight, but water weight at which all the nutrients are carried and drained through you, reading your comments made me cry because i understand and i wish i could help you and show you, that you are beautiful, and your weight is just a number and that laxatives will only slowly start to kill you, i was stupid, i thought it didn't matter or affected anyone else but me...so wrong, i enjoyed the pain they caused because i thought i deserved it, by pain i mean your heart regularly contracting and paralyzing in pain having palpitations, your ribs feel like they are caving, you become weak, and your digestive system just hurts so much, i have laid on the floor for ages not being able to move due to what it was doing, but i was addicted and couldn't stop. due to the effects i got toilet anxiety which made it worse because people realize something is going on so you try hide it i'm now finally able to use the toilet with people near (public and home). to this day 2 years after stopping i still have heart abnormalities, bowel dysfunction, my joints and bones are vulnerable and i'am very dietary healthy consuming a balanced and nutritious diet, vegan and avoid wheat partly because i have to because if i don't it makes me uncomfortably ill. i cant do hard exercise like i used to because i'm still warn out. the reality of it does not hit you until its too late. the quick route is never the right one, i learned the hard way hopefully so others don't, i wish you the best, and hope you awaken to what is important like family or how beautiful each day is, no matter how hard it seems immerse yourself in the moment and learn to love yourself because you only get one shot at being here and now with this identity before its gone, they say that the trick to losing weight is mentality, remaining happy and respecting your body and mind x
this wont kill me right? if i only take 1 laxative a day?
I have started taking laxatives for my surgery in a few days. However, I have noticed that I am dropping weight a little quicker by taking the laxatives in a pill form and drinking the laxative powder as well. I realize this is not the right path to take, but until you all have walked in my morbidly obese body - please do not judge me! I have been too big for too long, and I am striving to live my life accordingly. If society was not so demanding, degrading, and disrespectful - I do not believe that so many individuals would utilize drastic measures to be thin. I am not looking to get addicted to laxatives, but I am looking to lose some weight!
I couldn't have said it better!! I totally agree with you!!
I was a normal weight my whole life, of course I was never satisfied and wanted to be smaller. Now I am 56 years old and have degenerative discs in my back, fibromyalgia, chronic pain and am a lung cancer survivor. I quit smoking of course, but really started piling the weight on after my Mom died. I weigh 173 pounds and it is causing my pain issues to be greatly exacerbated. My knees hurt, my back hurts,I'm depressed and want to start feeling good about myself again. After reading this about laxatives,. I have decided to give it a low dosage try every couple days. So far I am loving the fact that im not straining and going days without a bowel movement. My pain medication does that to me. It may not be the right way, but if it wound help me shed this weight Ive gained, I see nothing wrong with using it in moderation.
i have a reasonable goal and like the rest of these ladies i can stop before it kills me once the weight is off i wouldnt have a problem maintaining it. it's baby weight that i can seem to get rid of. i dont wanna be skinny i love my body but i'm engaged i have to be on point for my wedding dress and 1-2 a day seems like it'll do just enough. i can eat healthier and i enjoy excercise but i am using laxatives for an initial boost...a jump start