You might have seen psyllium fiber alongside other natural laxatives like senna tablets or Prunelax. However, it is so much more than just a constipation treatment in terms of health benefits. Keri Gans, RDN, a nutrition consultant and the author of The Small Change Diet, explains to Byrdie that it is a soluble fiber from the seeds of the herb Plantago ovata and used as a supplement to treat a variety of conditions.
The United States National Library of Medicine explains that psyllium fiber comes in many forms, including powder, granules, capsules, liquid, and wafer. It usually is taken one-to-three times daily, with dosage varying by condition, often prescribed by your doctor. If taken in powder or granule form, they suggest mixing it with eight ounces of “a pleasant tasting liquid, such as fruit juice” right before use. “For psyllium to work properly and to prevent side effects, you must drink at least eight ounces (240 milliliters) of liquid when you take it,” they note.
Keep reading for more psyllium fiber benefits, according to health experts.
Meet the Expert
What Are the Benefits of Psyllium Fiber?
High in Fiber
One of the main reasons psyllium fiber is so beneficial for your health is that it is fiber-rich, Cathy Holligan, certified holistic health coach and founder of Intentioned Wellness, explains. “It is a significant source of fiber at seven grams per tablespoon, which is 25% of your daily value,” she points out.
It Can Aid in Digestion
Psyllium is considered to have "prebiotic potential," which means that it encourages good bacteria growth in your gut. It is also high in fiber, making it a helpful digestion tool.
It Can Help Build Immunity
Because it is a prebiotic and good bacteria is essential in boosting your immunity, it can help your body reduce inflammation, fight off infection, and encourage healthy cell and tissue growth.
It Can Help Prevent Diarrhea
Psyllium can help treat diarrhea, working as a bulking agent. “This means when a liquid is added to psyllium powder, it swells and enlarges,” Holligan explains, “As a result, it soaks up water in the digestive tract, which makes the stool more firm and allows it to pass more slowly.”
It Can Help Treat Constipation
Due to its high fiber content, Gans points out that it can effectively help treat constipation. The U.S. National Library of Medicine dubs it a “bulk-forming laxative,” explaining that it absorbs liquid in the intestines, swells, and forms a bulky stool, which is easy to pass.
It Can Help Lower Cholesterol
According to a report published in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, doctors prescribe psyllium for lowering cholesterol. A study from the British Journal of Nutrition found that psyllium husk naturally lowers cholesterol when used in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle, which Gans explains is attributed to its high fiber concentration.
It Can Help Reduce the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
Eating a diet high in soluble fibers such as psyllium may lower triglycerides and effectively reduce cholesterol and help reduce cardiovascular disease risk, Holligan says.
It Can Help Control Weight
Eating fibers such as psyllium can be linked to a decrease in body weight. “Fiber makes you feel full longer, which naturally limits the amount of food consumed,” explains Holligan.
It Can Help Control Blood Sugar Levels
Gans also notes that psyllium fiber can help improve blood sugar control. This can be incredibly beneficial for those who have diabetes.
Jalanka J, Major G, Murray K, et al. The effect of psyllium husk on intestinal microbiota in constipated patients and healthy controls. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(2):433.
Lambeau KV, McRorie JW. Fiber supplements and clinically proven health benefits: How to recognize and recommend an effective fiber therapy. Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. 2017;29(4):216-223.
Pal S, Khossousi A, Binns C, Dhaliwal S, Ellis V. The effect of a fibre supplement compared to a healthy diet on body composition, lipids, glucose, insulin and other metabolic syndrome risk factors in overweight and obese individuals. British Journal of Nutrition. 2011;105(1):90-100.
Anderson JW, Allgood LD, Turner J, Oeltgen PR, Daggy BP. Effects of psyllium on glucose and serum lipid responses in men with type 2 diabetes and hypercholesterolemia. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1999;70(4):466-473.