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Psyllium (Plantago ovata, Plantago ispaghula)
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • AC-2, arabinose, Bran Buds® cereal, bulk laxative, butyrate, Effersyllium®, fiber, Fiberall®, Fiber-loop cereal, flea seed, fleawort, Fybogel®, Fybogel Orange®, Heartwise® cereal, hemicellulose, hexoses, Hydrocil®, Indian plantago seed, isabgol, I-so-gel®, ispaggol, ispaghula, ispaghula husk, ispaghula seed, Konsyl®, Lunelax®, Metamucil®, Minolest®, natural vegetable laxative, pale psyllium, pentoses, Perdiem®, Plantago arenaria, Plantago isphagula, Plantago ovata, Plantago ovata Forsk., Plantago ovata husks, Plantago psyllium, plantago seed, polysaccharides, prebiotic, Prodiem Plain®, psyllion, psyllios, psyllium, psyllium husk, psyllium husk powder, psyllium hydrophilic mucilloid, psyllium seed, psyllium seed husks, Psyllogel® Fibra, Regulan®, Serutan®, soluble fiber, spogel, uronic acids, Vi-Siblin®, xylose, Yerba Prima®.
  • Select combination products: Minolest® (16% guar gum and 62% psyllium).

Background

  • Psyllium, also known as ispaghula or isphagula, comes from the seeds of Plantago ovata or Plantago ispaghula. Psyllium has a high amount of fiber and is the main ingredient in many laxatives, including Metamucil® and Serutan®.
  • Psyllium has been studied for its potential effects on levels of total cholesterol, LDL ("bad") cholesterol, and HDL ("good") cholesterol. Cereals that contain psyllium have appeared in the U.S. marketplace and have been promoted for their potential cholesterol and heart health benefits. Good scientific evidence also exists in support of psyllium for constipation.
  • Evidence of benefit for psyllium for other uses, such as diarrhea, blood pressure and blood sugar regulation, weight loss, labor induction, and other uses in the stomach and intestines, are limited or mixed. Further study is needed for these uses.
  • Allergic reactions, sometimes severe, have been reported. Blockage of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract has been reported, especially in people who have had bowel problems or surgery, or those who use laxatives that are not mixed with enough water.

Evidence

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Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

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Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

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Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.