Dicyclomine for Weight Loss: "Off Label" and Dangerous?

Dicyclomine for Weight Loss: "Off Label" and Dangerous?

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Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice. All statements are merely the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to weight loss.

Dicyclomine is a generic drug used to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but it's used "off-label" to promote weight loss. Some anecdotal reports online suggest that the drug is effective for this purpose.

But has dicyclomine been shown in clinical studies to cause weight loss? And if so, how much? Does the drug cause side effects? And how does it work in the body?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more, as we review clinical studies on dicyclomine to give our opinion on whether or not it's likely to be effective for weight loss.

We'll explain if the drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for weight loss, discuss potential side effects, and explain how dicyclomine works in the body.

Does Dicyclomine Cause Weight Loss?

We cannot identify any clinical studies suggesting that dicyclomine is effective for weight loss.

In fact, we can't find any clinical trials even testing dicyclomine's effects on weight in an overweight or obese patient population.

A 2008 clinical trial found that in patients with brain injury, dicyclomine mitigated the typical effect of rapid weight loss, suggesting that dicyclomine may actually promote weight gain. 

Some misguided theories behind using dicyclomine to promote weight loss may stem from the fact that IBS 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 nutrients from food, and loses 15 pounds over three months, they may believe that the weight loss was caused by an IBS drug they're taking like dicyclomine.

However, the patient's poor absorption of food more likely caused the weight loss. Unintentional weight loss is actually used as a diagnostic tool for IBS, based on a medical review published in the Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology journal.

How Does Dicyclomine Work?

Dicyclomine is prescribed for IBS because of its anticholinergic action.

As documented in a PubChem review, the drug relaxes smooth muscle, which can relieve symptoms in patients with IBS who often experience involuntary muscle spasms in their intestinal tract.

Dicyclomine can reduce both the number and the duration of these uncomfortable spasms.

Nearly all of the medical research we’ve encountered on dicyclomine is related to its effects on gastrointestinal conditions, not weight.

There is no logical reason to believe that the relaxation of smooth muscle would cause weight loss.

Does Dicyclomine Cause Side Effects?

Dicyclomine can cause side effects in some patients.

The most common side effects of dicyclomine are dry mouth, dizziness and blurred vision according to a 2015 medical review, which also reported that 69% of patients taking dicyclomine experienced side effects.

medical review published in the LiverTox journal reported that dicyclomine is safe for adults at the typical prescribed dose of 10 milligrams (mg) to 20 mg, and is not harmful to the liver within this dosing range.

The FDA label for dicyclomine reports cardiovascular and central nervous system symptoms as the most serious side effects, but fails to more specifically report how these symptoms manifest.

Since taking dicylcomine for weight loss would be an "off-label" (unapproved by the FDA) use of the drug, we consider the risk of side effects for this type of use to be even more likely than for an approved use.

Our Clean Weight Loss Picks

There are food-based nutrients which have been shown in medical studies to be effective for weight loss.

Dietary fiber was shown in a medical review published in The Journal of Nutrition to cause 16 pounds of weight loss in 6 months when combined with moderate caloric restriction (750 calories per day below baseline).

MBG Organic Fiber Potency+ is our top fiber pick because it's certified organic, provides 7 g of fiber per serving and costs under $1.85 per serving at the time of updating this article.

MCT oil was shown in a meta-study to cause more than one pound of weight loss over 10 weeks. This equates to potential annualized weight loss of 6 pounds per year with less than one tablespoon's worth of MCT oil per day.

Bulletproof MCT Oil is our top MCT oil product, because the only ingredient is MCT oil derived from coconuts. and it currently costs only $15.50 for over a month's worth of product.

Ginger intake "significantly decreased body weight" according to a 2019 meta-study on ginger and weight loss that analyzed data from 14 clinical trials.

Pique La Ginger is our top ginger product, because it's an organic tea in convenient crystallized form, and all that's needed is to pour the powder into a glass and add hot water.

All three of the products mentioned in this section are entirely free of additive ingredients that we consider to be unhealthy.

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We can't find any clinical evidence that dicyclomine causes weight loss, nor that it's even been studied for its potential to cause therapeutic weight loss.

The idea that dicylcomine causes weight loss appears to stem from a misunderstanding of correlation versus causation.

Patients with IBS take dicyclomine and patients with IBS often experience rapid weight loss, however it seems to be the patients' poor nutrient absorption causing the weight loss rather than dicyclomine.

One medical review found that dicyclomine caused side effects in nearly 70% of patients, and we consider the risk of side effects to be even greater with "off-label" use such as taking dicyclomine for weight loss.

Dicyclomine works by relaxing smooth muscle in the intestines, and this mechanism of action seems unlikely to cause weight loss.