Psyllium is an over-the-counter laxative made from the Plantago ovata plant. It is used to ease the symptoms of a variety of health problems and, according to some research studies, may be effective at preventing the development of cancer, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Psyllium is available in several forms, including flavored powders, wafers and capsules. Speak to your doctor about appropriate dosage ranges and possible side effects before using psyllium for any reason.
Psyllium -- also called ispaghula husk -- is made up of the fibrous seed husks and seeds of the native Asian herb. When psyllium is consumed, the soluble fiber swells with water and forms a thick mass within the digestive tract. As this mass moves through the intestines, it stimulates regular contractions and bulks up watery bowel movements. Because of this, psyllium is commonly used to treat diarrhea, constipation and irritable bowel syndrome and to aid people who have had rectal surgery or are suffering from hemorrhoids in passing stool. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that psyllium supplementation may help prevent colon cancer and heart disease, but more research studies are needed.
Psyllium Husk Capsule Dosage
Psyllium is sold under a number of brand names, including Metamucil, Reguloid, Fiberall, Laxmar and Konsyl. While each brand markets psyllium in different forms, capsules containing psyllium husk typically provide 0.52 g of the seed's soluble fiber. The packages' labels advise that one dose of psyllium husk is 5 capsules and that the dosage may be repeated up to three times daily for one to three days to relieve constipation. If you have not used psyllium capsules before, begin with the lowest dose and move up to higher doses, if needed, over several days. Dosage levels for any other condition should be determined by your physician.
Guidelines for Use
Each dose of psyllium capsules should always be taken with 8 oz. of water or other fluid. If you do not drink sufficient amounts of fluid when swallowing the capsules, there is the chance they could swell within your throat and cause you to choke. You should also consume between six to eight glasses of additional water or fluid throughout the day to prevent constipation. Do not exceed the recommended dosage, and do not continue taking psyllium capsules daily for longer than a week.
Psyllium use can cause side effects such as bloating, gas, abdominal pain, nausea, constipation and headaches. People who develop an allergic reaction to psyllium may experience hives, rashes, facial swelling and difficulty breathing. If you have a history of kidney disease, phenylketonuria, diabetes or digestive system disorders -- especially any type of esophageal disorder -- you should avoid using psyllium. Psyllium may also interfere with the function of medications such as digoxin, anti depressants such as doxepin, lithium and carbemazepin, blood-thinners such as warfarin, diabetes drugs and cholesterol-lowering drugs such as cholestyramine. Using laxatives for longer than seven days may cause permanent damage to your intestinal muscles and nerves.
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