Psyllium husk is a fiber that’s derived from plant seeds and is used as a dietary supplement to increase fiber intake, reduce constipation and diarrhea, and even reduce your risk of heart disease.
People typically mix psyllium husk into water, protein shakes, or smoothies, but it is also available in capsule form.
Our researchers have evaluated and ranked the ten best sources of psyllium husk fiber on the market and dug into the scientific research on the benefits and side effects of psyllium husk.
1. Viva Naturals Organic Psyllium Husk
Viva Naturals Organic Psyllium Husk comes in a 1.5 pound bag of finely-ground psyllium husk fiber. The powder-form fiber supplement mixes up easily into water, shakes, and smoothies, and it’s organically grown too.
The purity and ease of use of this psyllium husk supplement make it our number one pick for a powder form psyllium husk supplements.
2. Herbal Secrets Organic Whole Psyllium Husk
Herbal Secrets Organic Whole Psyllium Husk is a great pick thanks to its organic certification and the rigid one-pound plastic tub that the powder comes in.
The tub is easy to reseal and makes less of a mess than some of the resealable bags on the market.
True bulk users might want to opt for a larger 1.5 pound product, but for just about everyone else, this is one of the best powder form psyllium husk products out there.
3. Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Psyllium Husk Powder
For users who go through a lot of fiber on a regular basis, Terrasoul Superfoods Organic Psyllium Husk Powder is the best option for a powder-based psyllium husk supplement.
It comes in resealable bags of up to five pounds, and it is both organically certified and ground to an extremely fine powder.
This makes it easy to mix into smoothies, shakes, or even plain water if you don’t mind the bland taste. While not everyone needs a bulk option like this, the smaller sizes are still a great option as well.
4. Anthony’s Psyllium Husk Powder
Anthony’s Psyllium Husk Powder has exactly one ingredient: organically grown psyllium husk, harvested in India. The 1.5-pound bag is great for bulk users, and as a powder-form psyllium husk supplement you’ve got the freedom to measure out any dosage you want. It’s great for boosting the fiber content of shakes and smoothies.
5. NOW Foods Psyllium Husk Caps
NOW Foods Psyllium Husk Caps are a capsule-based form of psyllium husks. They’re great if you can’t stand the taste and texture associated with powder-form fiber supplements.
Each cellulose-based capsule delivers 500 mg of psyllium husk, derived from organically grown plant material. There is a slight amount of stearic acid added to stabilize the capsules, but aside from that there are no ancillary ingredients, making this a solid pick.
6. Organic India Whole Husk Psyllium
Organic India Whole Husk Psyllium is an organically grown and non-GMO psyllium husk supplement that comes in a small 12-ounce canister that makes it well-suited for people who only occasionally use psyllium husk, or who do not need large bags of fiber sitting around. Bulk users will want to look elsewhere, but for everyone else it’s a pretty good choice.
7. Healthworks Psyllium Husk Powder
Healthworks Psyllium Husk Powder is an organically grown and certified psyllium husk powder that comes in a one-pound bag.
It’s a good option if you need a moderately large bulk amount and value the purity of an organic product. The resealable bag can make a bit of a mess if you aren’t careful, but that aside, it’s a solid pick.
8. Sunergetic Psyllium Husk
Sunergetic Psyllium Husk is a high-dose capsule-based psyllium husk supplement. Each capsule delivers 725 mg of psyllium husk in a gelatin capsule (which means this product is not suited for strict vegetarians and vegans).
Though the high dosage is great, the capsules have a couple of binders and stabilizers, like silicon dioxide, that might drive away the purists.
9. Metamucil Fiber
Metamucil Fiber, one of the best-known fiber supplements on the market, is in fact psyllium husk based. However, it’s not a great option from a purity perspective.
First off, the psyllium husk used in the supplement is not organically grown like that of many of its competitors.
Second, while it does have flavoring, which many other psyllium husk supplements do not, this comes at the expense of artificial flavoring and coloring agents.
It’s a decent choice if you want flavoring to mask the texture of psyllium husk, but for people who value purity there are better options out there
10. Yerba Prima Psyllium Husk Colon Cleaner
Yerba Prima Psyllium Husk Colon Cleaner is a pretty basic psyllium husk supplement. It comes in a smaller 12 ounce canister, and is finely powdered.
The primary downside is that this psyllium husk is neither organically grown nor flavored, meaning it’s outclassed by several competitors—even though it’s not an objectively bad product.
Psyllium husk benefits and side effects
Psyllium is a soluble fiber derived from the Plantago psyllium plant and is known for its laxative effect. It is commonly sold as the brand name Metamucil.
The diet fibers extracted from the plant also possess pharmaceutical properties that are beneficial to other parts of the body (1).
Psyllium is being researched for its role in treating other conditions, including high total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome.
Psyllium helps treat constipation. Psyllium husk is considered a mild and natural laxative that facilitates digestion. Herbal laxatives are either bulk-forming or stimulating. For the same reason, it’s occasionally found in supplements used for a colon cleanse.
Bulk-forming laxatives such as psyllium come from plants with a high fiber and mucilage content that expand when they come in contact with water. As the volume in the bowel increases, a reflex muscular contraction occurs, stimulating a bowel movement (2).
Numerous human studies back psyllium’s efficacy in treating constipation. In a comparative study involving 170 participants with chronic constipation, psyllium was found to be superior to docusate sodium — a stool softener commonly used in healthcare settings (3).
Interestingly, psyllium can also be used to help treat diarrhea as explained in the next benefit.
Psyllium helps treat diarrhea. According to one study, crude extract of psyllium husk had a laxative effect in mice at 100 and 300 mg/kg, while higher doses (500 and 1,000 mg/kg), had antidiarrheal activity.
Researchers explain that when the crude extract is given to mice with constipation, it has a gut-stimulatory effect that is mediated partially by muscarinic and 5-HT(4) receptor activation; when it is administered to mice with diarrhea, it has gut-inhibitory activity possibly mediated by blockade of Ca(2+) channels and activation of NO-cyclic guanosine monophosphate pathways (4).
Psyllium should therefore be considered more of a regulatory fiber, rather than solely an anti-diarrheal or anti-constipation agent.
Psyllium helps treat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Early studies show that psyllium fiber treatment reduces the number of abdominal pain episodes in those with IBS.
In one study, researchers performed a trial of 103 children with IBS. Children were assigned randomly to groups given psyllium or placebo for 6 weeks.
Children in the psyllium group had a greater reduction in the number of pain episodes than children in the placebo group; the level of pain intensity did not differ between the groups, and the percentage of stools that were normal was similar between groups (5).
The goal of another randomized controlled trial was to determine the effectiveness of increasing the dietary content of soluble fiber (psyllium) or insoluble fiber (bran) in patients with IBS.
After 12 weeks of treatment with ten grams of psyllium husk, symptom severity in the psyllium husk group was reduced by 90 points, compared with 49 points in the placebo group and 58 points in the bran group.
Early dropout was most common in the bran group; the main reason was that the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome worsened (6).
Psyllium supplementation has also been shown to improve remission rates in those with ulcerative colitis. One study showed it to be as effective as mesalamine (medication prescribed to treat this chronic disease affecting the large intestine).
Psyllium may help lower cholesterol. In a meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials, researchers found consumption of psyllium lowered serum total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol numbers. The lowering effect was time and dose dependent; psyllium may be an adjunct to dietary therapy for the treatment of mild to moderate high cholesterol (7).
Another study showed that dietary supplementation with 6 g/day of psyllium over 6 weeks improved the fat distribution and lipid profile in a group of adolescent males at-risk of developing metabolic disease.
Metabolic disease is a group of conditions occurring together, including increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels, which greatly increase one’s risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke (8).
At baseline, 44 percent of participants (age 15-16) were overweight or obese; twenty eight percent had decreased insulin sensitivity.
Supplementation led to a 4 percent reduction in android fat to gynoid fat ratio (fat stored in the midsection of the body versus fat that forms around the hips and thighs), as well as a 6 percent reduction in LDL cholesterol. There were no adverse reactions with supplementation.
Psyllium may help lower glucose levels in those with type 2 diabetes. Growing evidence shows that supplementation of psyllium could be an adjuvant therapy for glucose control in those with type 2 diabetes.
In a study of diabetic mice fed psyllium (as 3.2 percent of their diet) for 18 weeks, psyllium was able to reduce fasting glucose by 20 percent; there was no effect on non-diabetic mice (9).
Multiple double- and single-blind trials show that psyllium husk significantly reduces both fasting and after-meal blood sugar levels, reduces insulin spikes, decreases the absorption of glucose and reduces HbA1c. A high HbA1c means there is too much sugar in the blood.
Using psyllium in recommended amounts appears to be safe. Psyllium may cause temporary stomach cramping, gas, bloating and intestinal discomfort.
There have been some reports of psyllium dust causing allergic skin and respiratory reactions, especially in those with severe asthma.
Sensitization to psyllium has been noted in some healthcare workers who are exposed to psyllium containing products; a history of asthma has been identified as being a risk factor.
For the treatment of constipation, a daily dose of five to ten grams of psyllium powder in water (200mL or more) is recommended. Taking psyllium with water is important to prevent the risk of it swelling and blocking the esophagus or bowels.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, the amount needed to lower cholesterol is 10 to 20 grams a day (10).
Those with IBS or diabetes should seek the advice of a healthcare professional before adding psyllium to their diet. Those who take a diuretic (water pill), warfarin (blood thinner) or Digoxin (used to treat congestive heart failure) should also consult with their physician.
Psyllium husk is soluble fiber taken primarily for the treatment of gastrointestinal motility disorders such as constipation and diarrhea.
It is derived from the Plantago psyllium plant, and the diet fibers extracted from the plant also possess pharmaceutical properties.
It is being studied for its ability to treat symptoms of IBS as well as its efficacy in lowering LDL cholesterol and glucose levels in those with type 2 diabetes.