Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD
Dicyclomine is a prescription medication used to manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) that has an unapproved, off-label use for weight loss. The most common brand name for dicyclomine is Bentyl.
In this article we’ll review the medical literature on dicyclomine to determine whether it’s safe and if there’s any evidence to suggest it’s effective for weight loss.
Dicyclomine is prescribed for IBS because of its anticholinergic action. It’s been proven to relax smooth muscle, and this is why it can be effective for IBS management. Patients with IBS often experience uncomfortable involuntary muscle spasms in their intestinal tract.
Almost all of the research we’ve come across involving dicyclomine studies its effects on gastrointestinal conditions, not weight loss.
Can Dicyclomine Help With Weight Loss?
There is no clinical evidence suggesting that dicyclomine is effective for weight loss. In fact, we haven’t even come across a single study testing its effects on weight. There’s no reason to believe, based on the chemical composition of dicyclomine, that it would impact weight loss.
Part of this misconception likely stems from the fact that IBS itself can cause weight loss, and many people with IBS are prescribed dicyclomine. But this is just a correlation and has nothing to do with the drug itself.
As an example, if someone recently diagnosed with IBS has trouble absorbing their food, and loses 15 pounds over 3 months, they may think that weight loss was caused by the IBS drug. However it was merely the fact that they were poorly absorbing their food which caused the weight loss. Unintentional weight loss is a symptom of IBS.
In general, supplements and prescription medications to help with weight loss are ineffective in healthy people. There are some potential exceptions based on early research, one of which you can read here in our Plenity review. Even in the case of weight loss prescription drug Plenity, the results are very minor and can be ascribed mostly to just increased fiber intake.
There isn’t much safety or toxicity research published on dicyclomine for its intended use (IBS), but off-label use such as taking dicyclomine for weight loss is always unsafe. We recommend that people consult with their doctor before considering off-label use of a prescription drug.
One study found that dicyclomine is safe for adults at a prescribed dose, and that it was not harmful to the liver.
Dicyclomine is not effective for weight loss, and is only recommended due to a misunderstanding of causation seen in IBS patients.
We fully support safe natural alternatives to prescription drugs (with the approval of a trained physician), but there is not enough evidence suggesting dicyclomine is safe or effective for weight loss.