What is Psyllium Husk?
If you have ever taken Metamucil, Serutan, or Fiber Eze, you have taken psyllium husk. Maybe you didn’t realize it at the time, but now you are probably wondering “what is psyllium husk?” Psyllium is a plant that goes by several names including:
- Plantago ovata Forssk
- White psyllium
- Blond psyllium
- Indian Plantago
The term “Plantago” is derived from the Latin word “planta” which means “sole of the foot.” This refers to the shape of psyllium leaves.
Psyllium means “flea” in Greek. This is about the shape, color, and size of the psyllium seed. Psyllium is native to Persia but is now grown primarily in India.
A psyllium seed has an outer shell which, when removed from the seed, is called psyllium husk.
Psyllium husk produces a thick mucilage, or gel when water is added to it. Psyllium husk can absorb up to fourteen times of its weight in water.
This gel is used in the health care industry as a medical treatment, in the food manufacturing industry as a thickener, a binder, and as a fiber additive.
It is also used in the agricultural industry as animal food and as a soil treatment to help prevent erosion.
What is Psyllium Husk Used For? Psyllium Husk Benefits
Many people are wondering “what is psyllium husk used for?” and have questions about psyllium husk benefits. Psyllium husk is an excellent source of natural fiber.
It has been shown through scientific studies that psyllium husk fiber can help relieve constipation, relieve diarrhea, lower blood sugar, help control appetite, and reduce weight gain.
Also, psyllium husk fiber has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol blood levels, improve irritable bowel syndrome symptoms, reduce blood pressure, and act as a prebiotic.
It has also been shown to be beneficial in treating hemorrhoids and ulcerative colitis.
When warm water is added to psyllium husks, they form a thick gel that is used in industry as a natural thickening agent and emulsifier.
It is this characteristic that makes psyllium husk so useful. It is used in ice cream, frozen dessert, jams, breakfast cereals, and more.
In the pharmaceutical industry, psyllium husk is used as a tablet binder.
In the landscaping profession, psyllium husk is used to prevent soil erosion. In animal husbandry, psyllium husk is used as feed.
Psyllium Husk Powder
Another question that you may have is “what is psyllium husk powder?” Psyllium husk powder is finely ground psyllium husks.
You can purchase psyllium husk powder from several manufacturers.
It is sold either as a loose powder or in capsule form. Some manufacturers combine psyllium husk powder with sweeteners and flavorings and then sell it as a laxative.
Are you wondering about psyllium husk vs powder? To decide between psyllium husk vs powder, think about what you are trying to achieve.
Depending on your application, psyllium husk powder may be easier to use than whole psyllium husk.
If you want to add it to baked goods, beverages, or dessert, you will have a much more pleasant end product if you use psyllium husk powder instead of whole psyllium husk.
Also, if you would rather take a capsule than mix powder into a food or beverage, you may prefer psyllium husk capsules.
Psyllium Husk Nutrition
Here are the facts about psyllium husk nutrition. Many manufacturers of supplemental psyllium list psyllium husk as a source of iron and calcium on their nutritional labels.
But you have to take this with a grain of salt. Psyllium husk can remove iron from the body.
If you are supplementing with iron, take your iron supplements and your psyllium supplements at separate times, preferably several hours apart.
Psyllium has not been shown to interfere with calcium absorption if taken in normal amounts.
How Much Psyllium Husk to Take
If you want to know how much psyllium husk to take on a daily basis, here is a general rule to follow.
Every 5 grams of psyllium husk that you take should be dissolved in 8 ounces of water.
The recommended daily dosage for psyllium husk is 10 grams to 30 grams a day, divided into several doses, taken at meals.
It is also best to start out with a smaller amount and then gradually work your way up to taking larger amounts, if needed, so that your body can adjust to taking psyllium. 
Psyllium Husk Dosage
The correct psyllium husk dosage for you depends on your situation. Here are some recommendations (please note that this does not substitute for a doctor’s advice. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning any regimen for your health).
If you are dealing with constipation, you should take 5 grams (0.18 ounces) to 10 grams (0.35 ounces) of psyllium husk dissolved in water and then drink another glass of plain water. Do this every day.
If you have diverticular disease, take 7 grams (1/4 ounces) of psyllium husk dissolved in water and then drink the second glass of plain water. Do this on a daily basis.
IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
If you have IBS, take 3-1/4 grams (0.12 ounces) of psyllium husk with each meal, up to three times a day.
Type 2 Diabetes
If you have type 2 diabetes, take 5.1 grams (0.18 ounces) of psyllium husk with each meal.
To help with diarrhea, take 9 grams (0.3 ounces) to 30 grams (1.06 ounces) of psyllium husk every day.
Psyllium Husk for Constipation
Studies show that psyllium husk is effective in treating constipation. In one study, 22 individuals were tested to see what effect psyllium would have on their constipation symptoms.
Eleven of the individuals were given psyllium; the other eleven were given a placebo. The study lasted for twelve weeks.
Based on the results of the study, the authors concluded that psyllium does help to alleviate constipation.
Psyllium Husk For Diarrhea
Thinking about using psyllium husk for diarrhea? In one study, 23 children who had chronic diarrhea were treated to study the effect of psyllium on their symptoms.
The children were allowed to have a diet free from all restrictions for one week, and then for the next two weeks, they were treated with psyllium.
The study reported that 87 percent of the children responded to treatment and suggests that psyllium husks, when combined with the proper diet, were an effective treatment for diarrhea.
Another study tested the effect of psyllium husk on medically induced diarrhea. The participants in this study were seven men and two women ranging in age from 20 to 36.
They were given a placebo, psyllium, calcium polycarbophil (a laxative), and wheat bran at different times and the effects of these four treatments were measured.
After measuring the results of the study, the authors concluded that psyllium, not calcium polycarbophil or wheat bran, improved the symptoms of diarrhea.
Psyllium Husk For Weight Loss
Many people want to know how to take psyllium husk for weight loss.
According to the authors of the book titled “Integrative Weight Management: A Guide for Clinicians,” psyllium may help obese individuals lose weight because it causes a feeling of fullness after eating.
They mentioned a study in which four different diets were compared in overweight and obese adults.
The results of the study demonstrated that the individuals whose diets included psyllium husk lost weight as a result of their diets. In this study, the participants had a body mass index between 25 and 40 kg/m², and those taking psyllium took 12 grams of psyllium three times a day before their main meals.
What Does Psyllium Husk Do?
Are you wondering “what does psyllium husk do?” Do you want to know why you should always drink water when taking psyllium husk? When psyllium husk comes into contact with water it swells up and forms a gelatinous mass.
This mass, as it travels through the digestive system, does interesting things. In people with constipation, the gelatinous mass helps to stimulate bowel movements and move waste through the intestines.
As it is moving waste along, it is also binding with bile acids which helps to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
In people with diarrhea, the gelatinous mass binds with matter in the digestive system which helps to reduce bowel movements, thereby alleviating diarrhea.
Psyllium Husk Side Effects
To prevent choking, be sure to drink plenty of water when taking psyllium husk. You should drink plenty of water when drinking it. Be sure to use at least 8 ounces of water for every 5 grams of psyllium husk. If you are taking psyllium husk pills, be sure to chew them well before swallowing.
Psyllium husk interferes with the absorption of Carbamazepine (Tegretol), Lithium, and Warfarin (Coumadin). If you are taking anti-diabetes drugs or antihypertensive drugs check with your physician before taking psyllium husk.
Since psyllium husk has been shown to decrease blood sugar and decrease blood pressure, you may be magnifying these effects if you take psyllium husk with medications for these health issues.
Also, if you are taking any herbal supplements that lower blood pressure (like fish oil, L-arginine or stinging nettle) or that lower blood sugar (like bitter melon, garlic, guar gum or Panax ginseng), you may want to limit your intake of psyllium husk.
Psyllium Husk Side Effects – Long Term
If you take higher doses of psyllium husk you may experience bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, gastrointestinal distress, constipation, or feelings of nausea. Taking too much psyllium husk can prevent fat-soluble vitamins and minerals from being absorbed.
Psyllium Husk Carbs
If you are confused about psyllium husk carbs, don’t be. Most psyllium husk supplement packages will say something like this on the nutrition label:
- Total Carbohydrate – 4.5 g
- Dietary Fiber – 4.5 g
- Soluble Fiber – 3.5 g
- Insoluble Fiber – 1 g
Notice that the grams of carbohydrate are equal to the grams of dietary fiber which is equivalent to 4.5 grams in this case.
These two numbers are equal because dietary fiber is a carbohydrate.
Although dietary fiber is a carbohydrate, it is the type of carbohydrate that the human body cannot digest.
That is why psyllium husk works – it passes through the body instead of being digested by the body. It lowers blood sugar instead of raising it.
So you don’t have to consider the carbs in psyllium husk if you are counting carbs.
Psyllium Husk Recipes
You can make your psyllium husk cleanse by blending juices and other ingredients with psyllium husk. Here are some recipes:
Psyllium Husk with Orange Juice and Ginger
Blend one teaspoon psyllium husk with 1/4 tsp powdered ginger and two to three drops of liquid stevia extract. Stir well. Add 8 ounces of orange juice, stir well and drink.
Psyllium Husk with Apple Juice and Spinach
Use a juicer to make spinach and apple juice from fresh spinach leaves and fresh apples. Blend 8 ounces of your spinach and apple juice mixture together with one teaspoon of psyllium husk. Stir well and drink.
Psyllium Husk with Cucumber and Pear
Easy Psyllium Husk with Cherry and Pomegranate Juices
This recipe doesn’t require a juicer. Simply purchase cherry juice and pomegranate juice from your local health food store. Mix four ounces of cherry juice with four ounces of pomegranate juice. Add 1 teaspoon of psyllium husk, stir well and drink.
Bottom Line on Psyllium Husk
If you are wondering when to take psyllium husk, just remember that for most people the best time to take psyllium husk is with meals.
However, if you are taking medication or iron supplements, you should separate your medication from your psyllium.
In these cases you should take psyllium husk either one hour after or four hours before taking medication or iron. [
Some people have experienced allergic reactions after repeatedly being exposed to psyllium husk. If you are allergic to psyllium, English plantain (Plantago lanceolata) or members of the Plantaginaceae family, you may want to avoid psyllium husk.