Take the dose of psyllium husk stirred into a glass of water or fruit juice (about 8 ounces). Drink it straightaway after mixing. Capsules should be swallowed whole with a glass of water (8 ounces).
Eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and getting regular gentle exercise can all help prevent constipation.
It may take a few days before you feel the full benefit from taking psyllium husk.
About psyllium husk
|Type of medicine||A bulk-forming laxative|
|Also called||Equate®; Konsyl®; Metamucil®; Reguloid®|
|Available as||Capsules, granules, liquid, powder|
Constipation is a common problem which can be caused by a number of things. Not eating enough fiber or not drinking enough fluid can cause constipation. Some conditions (such as pregnancy) can cause constipation, as can a lack of exercise or movement (such as being ill in bed) and some medicines.
Often, increasing the amount of bran in your diet and drinking plenty of water each day can effectively prevent or relieve constipation. You will have been recommended psyllium husk (also known as ispaghula husk) to help relieve constipation if you cannot increase the amount of bran in your diet, or if this is insufficient. Psyllium husk, a laxative, works by increasing the bulk of your stools, which encourages your bowels to move the stools through your digestive system, which in turn relieves constipation.
Products containing psyllium husk are available on prescription, and can also be bought without a prescription at pharmacies and other retail outlets. Some combination products contain psyllium husk as an ingredient.
Before taking psyllium husk
To make sure this is the right treatment for you, ask for advice from a physician or pharmacist before you start using psyllium husk if any of the following apply to you:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a physician.
- If it is for a child. This is because laxatives should only be given to children on the advice of a physician or healthcare professional.
- If you have any difficulty in swallowing.
- If you are so constipated that you think you may have a blockage.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take psyllium husk
- Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about psyllium husk and how to take it. It will also provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience.
- Take psyllium husk exactly as your physician tells you to, or as directed on the pack. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for preparing a dose. For an adult, a dose of psyllium husk is taken once, twice or three times a day.
- The powder or granules should be mixed into a full glass (8 ounces) of water or fruit juice before swallowing. Capsules should be swallowed whole with a full glass (8 ounces) of water.
- It is best if you take your doses just after a meal. Never take a dose at bedtime.
- If a physician has recommended psyllium husk for your child, check the label on the pack carefully to make sure that you give the correct dose for the age of your child. Remember to stir the powder or granules into a glass of water (8 ounces) before giving it to your child.
- If you forget to take a dose, do not worry, just take the next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Sometimes it may take a few days before you feel the full benefit from a bulk-forming laxative such as psyllium husk. However, if after several days you do not feel that your symptoms are improving, or if they get any worse, you should speak with your physician.
- It is important to drink plenty while you are taking psyllium husk. Adults should aim to drink at least two liters (65 ounces, or about 8 glasses) of fluid per day. Most sorts of drink will do, but as a start, try just drinking a glass of water 3-4 times a day in addition to what you normally drink.
- Try to eat a balanced diet containing high-fiber foods such as wholemeal and wholegrain breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables, brown rice and wholemeal pasta. If you are not used to a high-fiber diet, it may be best to increase the amount of fiber you eat gradually.
- Keeping your body active will help you to keep your digestive system moving, so try to take some regular daily exercise.
- You may wish to include some foods that contain sorbitol in your diet. Sorbitol is a naturally occurring sugar. It is not digested very well and draws water into your bowel, which has an effect of softening stools. Fruits (and their juices) that have a high sorbitol content include apples, apricots, grapes (and raisins), peaches, pears, plums, raspberries and strawberries.
- Food such as pastries, desserts, candy and cheese can make constipation worse and are probably best avoided.
Can psyllium husk cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains the ones which sometimes occur with psyllium husk. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. Speak with your physician or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Psyllium husk side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Mild allergic-type reactions such as nose or eye irritation, feeling short of breath, itchy skin||Stop taking the medicine and speak with your physician or pharmacist for advice|
|Excess wind (flatulence), bloating, tummy (abdominal) discomfort||As you become used to the extra fiber, these effects should settle down|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to taking psyllium husk, speak with your physician or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store psyllium husk
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
If you are due to have an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
Never take more than the recommended dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the emergency room of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Ask your pharmacist about ways to dispose of medicines safely in your local area.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading and references
Manufacturer's FDA Label, Konsyl® Easy Mix Formula psyllium fiber granules; Konsyl Pharmaceuticals Inc. DailyMed, National Institutes of Health, U.S National Library of Medicine. Dated January 2014.
Manufacturer's FDA Label, Metamucil® Therapy for Regularity-psyllium husk powder; The Proctor and Gamble Manufacturing Company. DailyMed, National Institutes of Health, U.S National Library of Medicine. Dated September 2014.
Manufacturer's FDA Label, Reguloid® psyllium capsules; Rugby Laboratories. DailyMed, National Institutes of Health, U.S National Library of Medicine. Dated September 2011.