Last Modified on Aug 30, 2015
Psyllium husk comes from the crushed seeds of the Plantago ovata plant, an herb native to parts of Asia, Mediterranean regions of Europe, and North Africa. In addition to its traditional use for constipation, psyllium has also been used topically by herbalists to treat skin irritations, including poison ivy reactions and insect bites and stings. It has also been used in Chinese and Indian traditional herbal systems to treat bladder problems, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and high blood pressure.
Similar to oats and wheat, psyllium is rich in soluble fiber. Traditionally, psyllium husk is used as a gentle bulk-forming laxative for constipation. Its ingredients include alkaloids, amino acids, oils, protein, tannins, flavonoids, and a variety of sugars and carbohydrates. It is used as a stabilizing and thickening agent in many salad dressings, soups, lotions, and creams. Psyllium seeds are oval-shaped, odorless, practically tasteless, and are coated with mucilage. Most commercial preparations consist of blonde psyllium. Another type of psyllium, called black psyllium, may also be used as a bulk laxative and carries the same risks as blonde psyllium, but is not typically found in commercial psyllium preparations.
Used as a dietary fiber, psyllium makes stools softer, which helps relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids and other intestinal disorders. When psyllium husk comes in contact with water, it swells and forms a gelatinous mass that stimulates the transport of waste through the intestinal tract. It is considered a good intestinal cleanser in that it speeds waste matter through the digestive system, shortening the amount of time toxic substances stay in the body and thereby reducing the risk of colon cancer and other diseases.
Psyllium encourages the growth of healthful, "friendly" intestinal bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilous and bifidobacteria which are helpful in regulating bowel movements.
Studies and clinical reports suggest that psyllium may enhance the sensation of fullness and reduce hunger cravings. For these reasons, incorporating psyllium and other sources of fiber into the diet may aid weight loss.
Detoxification of the Colon:
The bulking effect of psyllium also works to rid the colon of toxic substances, including heavy metals, as it acts almost as a sponge to soak them off the walls of the intestine. This spongy action has a dual advantage as it can decrease hunger when taken with meals.
Studies have concluded that psyllium relieves constipation as it is believed to speed the passage of stool through the digestive tract by softening the stool and attracting water thereby producing more bulk (which stimulates the transit of waste through the gastrointestinal tract).
Psyllium can be used as a bulk-forming agent to relieve mild to moderate diarrhea. Psyllium soaks up a significant amount of water in the digestive tract, thereby making stool firmer and, under these circumstances, slower to pass. In other words, Psyllium acts to slow down a too rapid transit time. It appears to stabilize bowel movements and is often used in cases of alternating constipation and diarrhea.
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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Several studies have found that soluble fiber (including psyllium) helps regulate stool frequency and consistency in people with IBS. Psyllium also has the additional advantages over other sources of fiber of reducing flatulence and bloating.
Psyllium may be recommended by a physician to help soften stool and reduce the pain associated with hemorrhoids.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
In a study of people with ulcerative colitis (a type of inflammatory bowel disorder), psyllium seeds were as effective as the prescription drug mesalamine in decreasing recurrences of the disease. In addition, psyllium has been prescribed as a bulking agent for mild to moderate cases of diarrhea from either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.
Studies suggest that a high-fiber diet, which may include psyllium, can lower insulin and blood sugar levels and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with diabetes. This type of diet may also help prevent diabetes in those at risk for the condition.
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Psyllium Husk for High Cholesterol
Studies have shown that psyllium husk is effective in lowering total cholesterol and LDL (the Bad cholesterol) levels. Studies also found that a 1% reduction in total and LDL cholesterol can reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 2%.
In general, prescription drugs should be taken 1 hour before or 2-4 hours after psyllium, because the absorption and effectiveness of many drugs may be reduced.
Psyllium should always be taken with (at least) a full 8 oz glass of water. It is also important to drink at least 6 to 8 full glasses of water throughout the day or constipation may develop. Taking psyllium supplements without adequate liquids may cause it to swell, and, in extreme causes, cause choking. Do not take this product if you have difficulty swallowing. People with esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus) or any other narrowing or obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract should not take psyllium.
*** Do not give psyllium to a child. ***
Add 1/2 to 2 tsp of psyllium seed to 1 cup (8 oz) of warm water. Mix well, and then drink immediately before it becomes too thick to swallow comfortably. (Psyllium thickens rapidly when water is added to it.) If using a commercial product that contains psyllium, follow package directions.
For those not accustomed to taking psyllium, it is best to begin with a low dose (such as 1/2 tsp in an 8 oz glass of water once a day), then increase to 2 tsp in two 8 oz glasses of water per day, as needed.
Higher doses of psyllium may be recommended by a health care provider to treat certain conditions. In the case of irritable bowel syndrome, for example, an initial dose of 1/2 to 1 tsp of psyllium per day is gradually increased to 4 doses per day.
Psyllium can be taken first thing in the morning or before bedtime. As a weight-loss aid, take at least 30 minutes before meals.
[YEA] I didn't notice enough written about allergies. My mother had a bad rash around her ankles and we made an appointment with the allergy doctor. He walked into the room and said, "Take psyllium husk!" It worked like magic. The rash was gone in days. She was always prone to food allergies but this easy solution was a big surprise and took care of her constipation problems as well.
I use 1 Tbl a day of it now for large intestine spasms and it has helped. These comments have been helpful because I see other ways it has helped me as well. I don't know if I'm addicted to it but sure don't want to be without it! Those spasms are pretty disabling as long as they last. If I combined it with ANYthing else, I'd blame the other thing before the psyllium husk, let alone any kind of CLAY! There is nothing natural about putting that into our bodies! And I've learned the importance of enough water as well!
Replied by Oekoman
Houston, Texas, Usa
Replied by Dan
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Replied by San
[YEA] I suffered from chronic diarrhea and painful gas for two months after taking a 10-week course of Prevacid (a ppi). Stopping the medication didn't help and eating a simpler diet didn't help. I started taking a teaspoon of psyllium husk in a glass of water every day. Within 48 hours the diarrhea and most of the gas were gone. I plan to continue with the psyllium for a while. Thank goodness for small miracles!
Replied by Rebecca
[YEA] Having struggled with IBS and intestinal issues my whole life there was nothing I could eat that wouldn't give me an upset stomach or bouts of IBS. Later in life I got eczema rashes all over my body. They were so bad on my legs I had to wear socks on my hands to keep from ripping my skin open while sleeping. Eventually my entire body was covered in eczema and life was absolutely miserable, the pain was unbearable. I began to become very depressed.
After doing research on natural remedies and finding this site I figured out what had happened and how to fix it:
As a child I suffered chronic ear infections and was on antibiotics at least once every month, I was diagnosed with asthma as young as two and made to take high doses of medication while growing up, anyone who has had asthma can attest to the rigorous routine most doctors want the children and their parents to follow. Two separate inhalers both taken three times a day. Well of course my system was a wreck, my whole life I relied on medication to sustain myself. My gut flora would have been nearly non-existent since I was a toddler.
My solution to this issue is one of many, but since this post is about Psyllium I will give you my recipe and explain the reactions.
Every morning Smoothie:
- 1 cup mixed baby greens
- 1 banana
- 1/4 cup milk kefir or water kefir
- 2 Tbsp raw organic cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
- 1 Tbsp psyllium husk
blend in blender or mixer, add more liquid if needed, drink before it congeals! And wash the cup right away.
I would drink one of these every day, starting with the husks and kefir very slowly. The Herx effect can manifest easily in people who have a high accumulation of toxins in their body, for me it was almost as unbearable as the eczema itself.
These days I only take psyllium when I feel my body needs it. The eczema is almost gone and my legs look almost normal again, there are still spots like on my forehead and inside of my arms that will flare up with stress.
It has been about 1 year since I started treating my extreme eczema problem, I am not 100% cured but something that took 24 years to accumulate is going to take longer than 1 year to expel. As for the Asthma, I will get attacks after allot of physical exertion but only once in a while, usually I can over come them with a short yoga practice. Again, my asthma is not 100% cured, I still rely on medication when I really need it and hate to say it but my mind still depends upon it to feel secure.
In addition to the smoothie recipe, an overall lifestyle change has helped considerably. Yoga, raw and organic food and growing as much as we can in our own garden has been the best changes we have ever made. Taking frequent trips into the wilderness, back roads and country side has reduced the stress level considerably and allows me to connect with something that was missing living in the city. It is really hard to feel sick with the resin filled mountain air in your lungs, or when a beautiful Bird of Prey glides overhead.
Replied by Sunny
Why is everyone using the Husks only and not the Whole Seed??? Aren't both good for the colon?
Replied by Keik
Good afternoon, I eat 100% raw diet. I was wonderng if psyllium is raw. I can't find any info either way. I would appreciate your feedback. Thank you!!
[YEA] Psyllium Husk Tips for Constipation, IBS-Diarrhea, General Detoxification, etc.:
-Start with small amounts, maybe ? tsp or 2-3 capsules, increasing to 1 heaping tsp (equal to about 10 capsules -- just use the powder if you need this much)
- Important: instructions call for 8 oz of water per heaping tsp. Drink at least double this amount. I drink triple this amount. I mix the heaping tsp of psyllium in 16 oz water and drink quickly. Then I pour another 6-8 oz water & drink that as well, for a total of 20-24 oz. (a tall glass and a half). If I don't drink this amount, I get dehydrated. I dehydrate easily -- my mouth & eyes get dry and, especially in the morning, my kidneys ache. A tall glass of water or two will resolve this quickly. I also drink room temperature water. I can't imagine drinking that much cold water unless I was really hot. It's ok to warm the water, but I prefer room temp.
- I prefer to take my heaping tsp in 20-24 oz water about an hour or two after dinner. I do get a bit bloated, so I'd rather be bloated overnight. I have time before bed to urinate a couple of times, so I don't have to get up in the middle of the night. For me, a perfectly flat stomach equals constipation ;-) The bloating goes away with a good bowel movement in the morning.
- I usually drink 16-32 oz of water on an empty stomach when I first get up. This will send me straight to the bathroom. Often, I eliminate within 15-30 minutes of getting up without the water, but I know I need to rehydrate in the morning anyway, so this is a good habit. Water on an empty stomach can cause contractions in the intestinal tract, which helps elimination. I also keep seltzer water, as that also causes intestinal spasm and can be helpful. But first you need soft, bulky stools (think psyllium husk), not hard, small stools. Once this problem is solved, water first thing in the morning or seltzer water will help the stools move through the intestinal tract, if this is an issue.
- My mother has occasional constipation and 1 heaping tsp psyllium in 16 oz water clears it up for her.
- My husband has IBS, where rich, fatty foods cause cramping and diarrhea shortly after eating. Taking 2-3 psyllium capsules with 8 oz or more water before eating will prevent the severe intestinal spasms that cause the cramping & diarrhea. So psyllium helps with IBS-constipation (lazy colon) & IBS-diarrhea (spastic colon).
- Any efforts to detox (I've tried many remedies from EarthClinic) will be aided by psyllium husk. There's nothing worse than drawing toxins out & then not being able to eliminate them. Psyllium husk will shorten, lighten, or eliminate detox/'herx' effects. I sometimes increase psyllium to 2 or more tsp/day. Take a half tsp here and there throughout the day and then a normal dose at night (if you have room -- Pay attention & you'll learn to detect when you've taken enough -- you'll be a little bloated at bedtime.... the bloating will be gone in the morning with a good, easy bowel movement.
-I also take psyllium husk on an empty stomach in the morning, if needed. It will cause a little bloating but, if I'm constipated, it's worth it. Also, a good idea if I'm using additional detox remedies. Again, detox without good elimination is self-defeating. You'll only reabsorb the toxins &/or feel terrible. Stop detox efforts until you are eliminating well and then restart slowly.
- I buy a vitamin store's brand of psyllium husk. It's pure, with no other ingredients.
- My mother prefers to mix psyllium & water in a jar. Shake it well. Then pour & drink quickly. Follow with more plain water to get to 16-24 oz.
- It appears that most problems with psyllium occur from taking too much too soon (excessive gas, bloating) and from not drinking enough water (dehydration -- could cause bad breath & other ill effects). I can think of no other way psyllium could cause bad breath. If anything, it helps eliminate old food from hanging around and causing bad breath (for me, next-day bad breath from garlic, etc. is no longer a problem).
- Eliminates hemorrhoids. Eliminates/helps acid reflux. - for me, at least.
- Lowers bad cholesterol and stabilizes blood sugar levels. If my blood sugar dips before dinner, I'll take a little psyllium and I'm fine. It helps me keep my weight stable, but I'm not trying to lose weight.
- Not habit forming, but rather helps tone the intestinal tract. I need less psyllium now than I used to.
- Acts as a prebiotic. I've never had trouble with washing away all my good bacteria, but rather I feel my intestinal tract is healthier than ever. I do eat raw veggies everyday, which also helps good bacteria flourish.
Hope this helps someone!
[YEA] Got rid of my typical truck driver waistline by using psyllium husks, hot water and molasses.
Replied by One Sweet World
Las Vegas, Nv
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[YEA] Psyllium husk (remedy) Irritable Bowel Syndrome (ailment)
After years of laxative abuse associated with an eating disorder, I ended up with sever IBS and an intolerance to a wide range of foods, including many fruits. I started taking psyllium husks recently after reading about it in a health magazine, and I have been amazed by the difference. I can eat most foods without the bloating, flatulence and chronic stomach pain that I have had to live with for years!
Although, I have found that when I have not taken the psyllium for several days, the symptoms have returned again. But to be able to live without pain, a tablespoon of psyllium on my breakfast in the mornings seems a small ask!
Replied by Laura
Replied by Hermiticwonderer
[YEA] Due to multiple food and gluten allergies, I've had a history of both constipation, and more recently chronic diarrhea. Psyllium capsules taken at night with a full glass of water, or between meals with a full glass of water has been a lifesaver. I find starting with 2 capsules a day of psyllium husk, then working up gradually by adding 1 or 2 capsules a day to a total of about 10 taken in divided doses of 2 or 3 at a time between meals with lots of water gives no symptoms of gas, bloating, or bad breath. After a week or two of this I usually back off to a small maintenaince dose of 3 capsules, which is about 2 grams of total additional fiber a day.
Unexpected side effects for me included the complete relief of menopausal type hormone flucuations and hot flashes because of the fact that the fiber binds to excess hormones like estrogen and escorts them safely out of the system before they can have side effects. For this reason I would recommend it to anyone who was suffering from hormone related cancers including prostate. It may also help in chemo therapy to bind to the toxins of the drugs that are used and to help remove dead cancer cells from the body. Also pysllium can be a lifesaver when a bout of food poisoning or flu occurs because it binds with the toxins that are the byproduct of the offending bad virus or bacterias. For ANY use of pysllium husks , make sure that after your body becomes healthy and regular, see if you can't wean down on the number of capsules you take by substituting high amounts of quality fruit and vegtables into your diet, then let your body have a complete pysllium break and see how you do. You may have fixed the problem. For some of us who are allergic to many grains we just can't get enough fiber into our normal diet and need to add a little extra. Another help has been to add additional enzymes like bromelain and papaya, to the diet to help properly break down foods and repair intestinal damage. It is important to note that pysllium is NOT a laxative and that your body does not develope a dependency on it, but it DOES bind to vitamins, minerals, and medicines so for that reason is best taken on an empty stomach at leaast 2 hours after food or medicine is ingested, and at least an hour before you eat again.
VERY IMPORTANT: Drink at least one extra 8 oz. glass of water for every 2 capsules taken!
[WARNING!] Please check into the long term effects of using psyllium on a regular basis. It's addictive in that the more you use it, the more you'll be dependant on it. Psyllium causes the colon muscles to relax and actually does the work for them - they begin to weaken & possibly atrophe (as do all muscles that aren't used). It's possible/probably that if you take psyllium long enough, you'll end up taking it the rest of your life.
Replied by M
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[YEA] whipple operation for duodenal cancer, psyllium, and flax seed meal. After my cancer operation in 1991 I suffered terrible flatulence - gas in both directions. It was a difficult time for several years - my doctors prescribed pancreatic enzymes that were useless. Eventually I realized because of the removal of my duodenum, digestion of oils and fats especially was impeded. I was better avoiding all oils and fats, but that was not a long term solution. My triglycerides were elevated and I was slowly depleting my essential oils and drying out based on my skin condition. Adding back essential oils (flax mixture) brought my tryglicerides back to normal in the first week but my original gaseous problems were still there. Eventually, after 10 years or so, I discovered psyllium seed that cured the condition entirely when I added it mixed in water before major meals - or before oily or in some cases even when I indulged in pig-out foods. My movements still were not perfect and recently, only the last 5 months or so I discovered flax seed meal or powder is even better - not quite as course in elimination and adding substantially more vitamins and nutrients as I understand it. Either of course would be a life saver for anyone else out there who's an outcast because of runaway flatulence.
[YEA] After 25 yrs of religiously following an exercise/diet regimen (30min brisk walk 4x/wk, fruits ONLY dinners) my cholesterol/sugar/weight breached normal levels. Psyllium corrected all these. Have been taking 5grams of it everyday since 2004 and have since become a "psyllium-phile". Following are my 2cents:
The 8 glasses of water/day rule is passe. The heavier you are, the more water you need. Follow instead: weight (in kilos)/24= liters of water/day. On days you perspire a lot (ie exercise day), use 20 as your divisor. I don't recommend psyllium for people who don't drink enough water.
W/ regards to dependency, we need 25-30 grams of fiber/day. I've yet to see any cereal more fibrous than psyllium. I stopped eating oatmeal, so I lowered my uric acid too.
You can avoid bloating by taking psyllium FIRST thing in the morning AT LEAST 30 MIN before your first meal. I also find eating fruits IMMEDIATELY AFTER psyllium bloats you.
[YEA] I recommend psyllium husk I take 5 teaspoons a day with plenty of water for preventing Diviticulitus, it works. Just get the powder from the supermarket.
[YEA] About Halitosis caused by psyllium husk--It is not true that psyllium causes halitosis. In fact, it should have the reverse effect. If you notice, even your stool will start to become almost odor free when you take psyllium regularly. What likely could have happened is that the sufferer could have ingested a contaminted psyllium. These can be contaminated more often with yeasts and molds if left in a container or place where moisture can penetrate. These could also probably the source of the candida in the stomach. So, be careful when buying psyllium which are stored in open container or shelves. Best to buy those tightly packed.
[YEA] its my second day taking Cilium capsules (psyllium) and immediately i feel the bloated sensation in my stomach, i feel very thirsty a lot and i have this weird sensation in my tongue. after reading some testimonies in this site i am especially concerned of what this lady said about her boyfriend having halitosis, i certainly wouldn't want that. how many others are out there having halitosis after or while taking pysllium. also the instruction on the cilium box says i should take 10 capsules a day..is that safe?