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Psyllium Husk (Plantago ovata)

Psyllium Husk (Plantago ovata)

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Blond psyllium is an herb. The seed and the outer covering of the seed (husk) are used to make medicine.

Blond psyllium is used as a laxative and for softening stools in people with hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and after anal surgery. It is also used for diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and dysentery. Other uses include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, weight control, and serious renal disease.

Some people apply blond psyllium to the skin as a poultice for boils.

In food manufacturing, blond psyllium is used as a thickener or stabilizer in some frozen dairy desserts.

Some foods that contain blond psyllium carry a label that claims these foods, when consumed as part of a low-fat diet, may reduce the risk of heart disease. The FDA allows this claim if the food contains at least 1.7 grams of psyllium per serving. The key word in this claim is “may.” It is true that blond psyllium can help lower cholesterol levels; but there's no proof yet that taking blond psyllium reduces the risk of developing heart disease. Despite its effectiveness in lowering cholesterol levels, blond psyllium has not yet been included in the stepwise approaches to dietary therapy such as the American Heart Association Step I or Step II diets for high cholesterol. Most clinical studies have used a specific blond psyllium powder preparation (Metamucil) or food that contains psyllium seed husk, such as cereals, breads, or snack bars.

How does it work?

The husks of the psyllium seed absorb water and form a large mass. In people with constipation, this mass stimulates the bowel to move. In people with diarrhea, it can slow down the bowel and reduce bowel movements.

Traditionally used for

Lowering cholesterol in people with high cholesterol.
High blood pressure.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Treating side effects of a drug called Orlistat (Xenical, Alli).
Inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis).
Crohn's disease.
Fat redistribution in people with HIV disease.
Some types of skin conditions.


It's important to take enough water when taking blond psyllium. Not taking enough fluid could lead to choking or obstruction of the esophagus (the food passage connecting the throat and the stomach) or bowel. Take at least 240 mL per 5 grams or less of blond psyllium husk or 7 grams of blond psyllium seed. To minimize some of the common GI side effects, start with a low dose and increase to the needed amount.

By mouth

As a laxative for constipation: 7-40 grams of blond psyllium seed per day, in 2-4 divided doses.
For diarrhea: 7-18 grams of blond psyllium, in 2-3 divided doses or 5 grams of a combination of blond psyllium, calcium carbonate, and calcium phosphate (in ratio of 4:1:1 by weight).

For decreasing diarrhea in patients receiving tube feedings: up to 30 grams of blond psyllium daily in divided doses of 2.5-7.5 grams per dose. It may be given through the feeding tube, either mixed with the nutritional formula or all at once followed by a flush with water. However, use care, because psyllium might clog the feeding tube.

For chronic diarrhea after gall bladder surgery: 6.5 grams of blond psyllium three times daily.
For diarrhea that sometimes accompanies the use of a medicine called misoprostol: 3.4 grams of blond psyllium twice daily.

For irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): 10-30 grams of blond psyllium seed husk in two to three divided doses daily. 10 grams of blond psyllium seed husk twice daily with 15 mg of propantheline three times daily has also been used.

For reducing the gastrointestinal (GI) side effects of a medicine called orlistat: 6 grams of blond psyllium three times daily with each orlistat dose.

For keeping symptoms of ulcerative colitis under control: 10 grams of blond psyllium seeds, taken twice daily.

For relieving bleeding from hemorrhoids: 3.5 grams of psyllium seed husk, twice daily for three months.

For high cholesterol: 3.4 grams of blond psyllium seed husk three times daily or 5.1 grams twice daily. However, doses up to 20.4 grams per day have been tried. Cereal with added psyllium that provides 12 grams of soluble fiber per day has also been used. A mixture of 2.1 grams of psyllium, 1.3 grams of pectin, 1.1 grams of guar gum and 0.5 grams of locust bean gum has been used three times daily. A combination of 2.5 grams of blond psyllium powder (Metamucil) with 2.5 grams of colestipol, taken three times daily has also been used. A combination of simvastatin (Zocor) 10 mg and blond psyllium (Metamucil) 15 grams daily has also been used. In children with high cholesterol: cereal containing 5-10 grams of psyllium daily.

For type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol: 15 grams of blond psyllium in three divided doses.

For reducing the glycemic index of food in patients with type 2 diabetes: 15 grams of blond psyllium in three divided doses with a carbohydrate meal has been used.

For high blood pressure: 15 grams of blond psyllium husks daily for 8 weeks.

Possible Side Effects

Blond psyllium is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth with plenty of fluids. Drink at least 8 ounces of fluids for every 3-5 grams of husk or 7 grams of seed. In some people, blond psyllium might cause gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, and nausea. It has also been linked to reports of headache, backache, runny nose, cough, and sinus problems.

Some people can have an allergic response to blond psyllium with symptoms such as swollen nasal passages, sneezing, swollen eyelids, hives, and asthma.

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Blond psyllium is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately.

Growths in the large intestine and rectum (colorectal adenoma): Blond psyllium might increase the risk of adenoma recurrence in people with a history of colorectal adenoma. People who have had this condition should avoid blond psyllium.

Diabetes: Blond psyllium can lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Monitor blood sugar levels closely. Doses of conventional antidiabetes medications may need adjustment. Another consideration is that some commercial blond psyllium products can contain added sugars that might increase blood sugar levels.

Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders: Don't use blond psyllium if you tend to develop hard stools in the rectum due to ongoing constipation (fecal impaction), GI tract narrowing, obstruction, or conditions that can lead to obstruction, such as spastic bowel.

Allergy: Some patients can have severe hypersensitivity reactions to blond psyllium. This is more likely to occur in patients with previous occupational exposure to blond psyllium. Don't use blond psyllium if you are sensitive to it.

Low blood pressure: Blond psyllium can lower blood pressure in people with high and normal blood pressure. Taking blond psyllium might make blood pressure drop too low in people who already have low blood pressure.

Phenylketonuria: Some blond psyllium preparations are sweetened with aspartame (Nutrasweet) and should be avoided in patients with phenylketonuria.

Surgery: Blond psyllium might affect blood sugar levels, making blood sugar control more difficult during and after surgery. Stop taking blond psyllium at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Swallowing disorders: Do not use blond psyllium if you have problems swallowing. Blond psyllium might increase your risk of choking.

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