Why Psyllium is Not Recommended

© Copyright Bee Wilder

Psyllium is a soluble fiber (fiber), which is a seed husk that comes from plants most commonly grown in India called plantains, which includes about 200 different species.

Although psyllium is often labelled as a laxative, it is not. It is a soluble fibre that becomes gelatinous and sticky in water. It is not absorbed in the small bowel. It is broken down in the large bowel and becomes a food source for the bacteria that live in the colon, including candida.

Psyllium causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It gets into the cells and activates it so that the body produces an immunological radical reaction which causes astronomical titers (antibodies).

People get sensitized to psyllium. Even people who just handle it (like nurses and doctors) get a violent immunological reaction. If too many antibodies are produced, it can affect the kidney glomuerial filtering unit. It produces hormonal effects because hormones are flushed out. The reason it causes water to be brought into the gut is because the body is trying to inactivate the material.

Allergies – People should avoid psyllium if they have a known allergy to psyllium, ispaghula (similar to psyllium) or English plantain (Plantago lanceolata). Signs of allergy include rash, itching and shortness of breath.

There are reports of allergic reactions to psyllium taken by mouth, including anaphylactic reactions (severe allergic reactions), especially in health care workers who are often exposed to psyllium.

Psyllium has generally been well tolerated in studies. Some people may experience stomach discomfort, gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation.

Blockage of the gastrointestinal tract may occur, particularly if psyllium is used without enough water or is used by people with prior bowel surgery, motility disorders or bowel tumors [including polyps].

Other side effects such as rash, cold symptoms or difficulty breathing may be caused by psyllium allergies. A rare side effect may involve an increase in the number of some kinds of blood cells, a reaction usually associated with allergies.

In general fibres are not recommended as discussed in the article Fibre in the Diet Theory Doesn’t Help Digestion. Here are a few excerpts from that article that explain why.

Fibre is that part of a vegetable which passes undigested through the human gastrointestinal tract. The major natural source of fibre is the cellulose that forms plant cell walls but there are a number of other kinds of fibre. The ones that scientists are interested in most are cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin and pectin.

It had been shown in the mid-1980s that dietary fibre increased the risk of colon cancers. (10) In 1990 The British Nutrition Foundation admitted that the hypotheses that IBS, diverticulosis and colo-rectal cancer are caused by a deficiency of fibre had not been substantiated, neither have those that fibre might protect against diabetes, obesity and CHD.

The Seventh King’s Fund Forum on Cancer of The Colon and Rectum agreed: ‘The Forum commented that cereal fibre does not offer protection against cancer’.

HS Wasan and RA Goodlad of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund conclude: ‘Until individual constituents of fibre have been shown to have, at the very least, a non-detrimental effect in prospective human trials, we urge that restraint should be shown in adding fibre supplements to foods, and that unsubstantiated health claims be restricted. . . . Specific dietary fibre supplements, embraced as nutriceuticals or functional foods, are an unknown and potentially damaging way to influence modern dietary habits of the general population.’

Tests into the supposed benefits of increasing dietary intake of fibre soon showed that there could be other harmful side-effects:

  • Because it is indigestible, bran ferments in the gut and can induce or exacerbate flatulence, distension and abdominal pain. [Note: this also includes other fibres such as psyllium.]
  • Although it is supposed to travel through the gut at a faster rate, it does not always do so and it has been shown to cause blockages.
  • All the nutrients in food are absorbed through the gut wall and this takes time. It should be obvious, therefore, that if the food travels through faster, less will be absorbed. And, indeed, this is the case. Fibre is found to inhibit the absorption of zinc, iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, energy, proteins, fats and vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • Phytate associated with cereal fibre (bran) [and also psyllium seeds are coated with phytates] also binds with calcium, iron, and zinc, causing malabsorption. For example, subjects absorbed more iron from white bread than from wholemeal bread even though their intakes of iron were fifty percent higher with the wholemeal bread. Also, while white bread must have added calcium, the law does not require it of wholemeal bread.
  • Bran fibre has also been shown to cause fecal losses, and negative balances of calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus, nitrogen, fats, fatty acids and sterols thus depleting the body of these materials. (A negative balance is where more is lost from the body than is absorbed, i.e. the body’s stores are depleted.)