What Are the Side Effects of Psyllium Husk?
Psyllium husk is widely used as fiber supplements or natural laxative to relieve constipation. This fiber is water-soluble and forms a gel in contact with water, adding bulk to the feces. Not only psyllium husk can help in improving digestive health, but many types of research also show that it can reduce total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and thus reducing the risk of getting heart disease. In addition, psyllium husk may also help with weight management.
Even though psyllium husk can have many health benefits, anything that’s consumed in excess may have side effects. Excess use of psyllium can potentially trigger a range of gastrointestinal symptoms.
People who eat too much fiber too quickly may develop bloat and gas. This is because most of the fiber won’t be digested or broken down while moving down the intestines. The beneficial bacteria residing in out colon will digest some of the remaining fiber and produce gas. Along with gas and bloating, the cramping may also occur with too much fiber. This happens when too much fiber causing a slow down of digestion.
Not drinking enough liquid after taking psyllium husk can cause digestive discomfort. Without drinking enough liquid, psyllium husk powder can possibly swell in the throat and cause blockage or choking. Besides, not taking enough liquid and overdose on fiber may not relieve constipation but worsen the condition. So, please ensure to have enough or additional liquid with psyllium husk.
Long term excessive fiber intake may also increase the risk of bezoar formation, leading to intestinal obstruction. A bezoar is a mass of material or stone that forms in the intestines when fiber, hair or other indigestible materials clump into a ball and not being able to pass through the colon. It is important to drink a good amount of liquid with the right dosage of psyllium to avoid the development of bowel obstruction.
Psyllium husk is a good source of water-soluble fiber and has many health benefits. Just to make sure to start low and slowly increase the intake and drink an adequate amount of liquid to avoid and side effects. Please consult a doctor, nutritionist or dietitian if you have irritable bowel syndrome or taking medication before you start psyllium husk.
Written by: Jasmine Lim
(Love Earth Nutritionist)
[Bachelor of Science Degree in Dietics (major) &
Food Science (minor) lowa State University, USA]