What Are the Dangers of Taking Too Much Psyllium Husk?

Psyllium is a natural source of fiber derived from the Plantago ovata plant that produces small, gel-coated seeds. This plant is a source of soluble or viscous fiber, which forms a gel-like paste in your stomach, which can help slow digestion, promote steady blood sugar levels and make you feel fuller, longer. However, taking excess amounts of psyllium husk can cause unpleasant symptoms. Speak to your physician before taking psyllium to ensure that you're taking the right dose for you.

Taking too much psyllium can cause stomach pain.
Credit: Roel Smart/iStock/Getty Images

Affecting Medication Dosage

Psyllium husk is intended to slow the passage of substances through your digestive tract. This effect can be harmful, however, if you're taking certain medications that rely on a specific digestion time to prove effective. For this reason, take psyllium husk two to four hours before taking other medications so that you don't change the effectiveness of your medications.

Abdominal Discomfort

Although your body doesn't completely digest psyllium husk, you must become accustomed to the added amounts of fiber in your body. If you increase your dosage of psyllium husk too quickly or take too much psyllium at one time, you may experience gastrointestinal side effects such as gas and bloating because the bacteria in your intestines give off extra gas while trying to become accustomed to the added fiber. If you don't drink enough fluids in addition to the psyllium you take, you also may experience constipation. This is because soluble fiber must soak up water to prove effective. Without enough water, your stool can become hardened, dry and difficult to pass.

Severe Symptoms

In addition to uncomfortable symptoms like gas and bloating, you might also experience severe side effects as the result of taking too much psyllium. Vomiting, severe stomach pain, rectal bleeding or constipation that lasts longer than seven days are potentially serious side effects of taking too much psyllium, according to Drugs.com. If you experience these effects, talk to your physician immediately.

Recommended Dosage

While you should always follow the advice of your physician provider concerning your psyllium dosage, beginning with a smaller dosage of about 1/2 tsp. mixed in an 8 oz. glass of water may help your body adjust to the added fiber, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Over time, you can increase your dosage to 2 tsp. of fiber in an 8 oz. cup of water. This is the general maximum recommended dosage. However, if you experience a health condition such as irritable bowel syndrome, your physician may recommend taking a higher dosage.

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