University Life Café

The Bookshelf → Addressing Laxative Abuse

Preview Points

  • Laxative abuse involves the mis-use of stimulant-type laxatives or bulk agents (like fiber supplements).
  • Some people use laxatives to “lose weight“ and “feel thin.”
  • The misuse of laxatives leads to water weight gain, as a delayed, unintended effect.



  1. Stop taking laxatives right away. Do not take more without physician consultation.
  2. Drink at least 6 to 10 cups of water a day. Avoid caffeinated beverages because these are diuretics and promote fluid loss. Restricting fluids when one feels constipated only worsens the constipation.
  3. Include physical activity in the daily routine to regulate bowel function. Excessive vigorous exercise may worsen constipation, due to the effects on metabolism and fluid balance.
  4. Eat regularly, optimally three times a day.
  5. Eat foods that naturally promote more normal bowel movements. These include whole-grain breads and cereals, crackers, wheat bran, or foods with wheat bran added. Vegetables and fruits also promote normal bowel function. (Note: Prunes and prune juice are not recommended because the prune ingredient is an irritant laxative, with long-term harmful effects.)
  6. Keep a record of your bowel movements to let the physician know.
  7. Stopping laxative abuse may promote a feeling of temporary weight gain, constipation, fluid retention, and “feeling bloated.” (“How to stop abusing laxatives,” 2004, p.1).


Medical complications from the abuse of laxatives may include the following: a worsened constipation problem, dehydration which impairs bodily functioning, electrolyte imbalances and abnormalities, edema (fluid retention), bleeding in their stools with chronic blood loss, and impaired bowel function.

Concluding Points

  • The use of laxatives (whether stimulant-types or fiber-types) as a weight-loss mechanism is counter-productive. It is harmful to the body’s health.
  • Laxative abuse should be stopped, and healthier ways of promoting regular digestion and bowel movements should be used.


“How to stop abusing laxatives.” (2004). Gurze Books. 1.

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