Psyllium husk is the seed husk portion of the Psyllium plant (Plantago ovata). Medically, it is mainly used a bulking agent due to its high fiber content of 67-71% and as a mucilage agent with a content of 10-30%.1 While psyllium husk has not been shown to completely resolve candida overgrowth, it may be helpful in reducing it because the soluble fiber and mucilage act to bulk stool and regulate bowel movement. Candida feeds on partially digested sugar and carbohydrate molecules in your intestines, so it is important to have regular and complete bowel movements.
A fiber supplement like psyllium husk is often recommended during treatment of candida yeast overgrowth. During digestion, the psyllium absorbs water in the colon forming mucilage, a sticky gel-like substance which pulls in fecal matter and toxins as it moves through the colon.1,2 This process of removing toxins properly manages die-off. Studies confirm that psyllium has no prebiotic or probiotic effects on gut flora.7
Psyllium husk is well researched for usage in a variety of other conditions.
- Weight loss – Psyllium is often used as a weight loss aid because of its ability to provide the subjective feeling of fullness before and between meals which prevents snacking and overeating, reducing the overall caloric intake. Studies have shown psyllium and other viscosity increasing fiber to increase satiety and delay gastric emptying1,3,4
- High cholesterol – Psyllium supplementation of 10.2 grams per day has been shown to reduce serum cholesterol levels by 4% and LDL cholesterol by 7% in conjunction with a low-fat diet over 8 weeks.1,5 Psyllium increases cholesterol metabolism in the liver which lowers serum LDL.1
- Diabetes – Through its effects of slowing gastric emptying and reducing intestinal mixing, psyllium husk slows and reduces the amount of glucose absorption improving the glycemic response after a meal.1
- Inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) – Soluble fibers such as psyllium husk is more effective than insoluble fiber with constipation predominant symptoms of IBS as the mucilage works to soften the stool by increasing water absorption.1 This water absorption also makes it possible for those suffering with diarrheal symptoms to have less frequent fluid based stools.1 Daily use of psyllium is recommended for those with IBS.6
Psyllium is commonly consumed as a seed or husk, often as a powder, and mixed with water as needed. It is also available in tablets, capsules, and wafers. Over the counter laxatives such as Metamucil use psyllium as their main ingredient.1 All forms of psyllium will produce the same effects, but the powder is more effective for mixing it into other foods.10
Psyllium is also used in the food industry as a thickener for ice cream and frozen desserts.1
Recommended dosage is condition and purpose dependent and should be discussed with your doctor, especially for children.
For adults, generally a low dose is given to begin, such as ½ tsp. mixed in 8 ounces of water per day.8 An additional 8 ounces of water should be consumed shortly after dose. Take apart from meals.
- Candida cleanse2: 1 TBSP psyllium + 1 TBSP bentonite clay mixed in 8 ounces of water, 1-3 times per day separate from meals
- Weight loss1: 20 grams of granules mixed in 200 mL water
- High cholesterol1: 7-20 grams in divided doses throughout the day, mixed in 8 ounces of water
- Diabetes1: 14-20 grams in divided doses throughout the day, mixed in 8 ounces of water
Allergic reaction to psyllium is rare but possible. Symptoms can include tightness in the chest, wheezing and hives.1
Fiber supplementation can increase gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort. These side-effects usually reduce with long-term use.1,8
Always mix husk, seed or powder with the appropriate amount of water. Placing these in your mouth without water may induce choking.8
Psyllium can cause reduced or delayed absorption of certain medications. It is imperative you discuss usage with your doctor if you are any taking medication, especially: lipid lowering, thyroid hormones, anticonvulsants, hypoglycemic agents, heart medication, lithium, coumarin derivatives, vitamin B12, and calcium.1
Psyllium should be taken at least 3 hours before or after digitalis, nitrofurantoin, and salicylates as decrease absorption may occur if taken closer together.9
Psyllium SHOULD NOT be taken by those with bowel obstruction, colonic impaction, or gastrointestinal tract stenosis (narrowing).1
Flaxseed is also used as a laxative to bulk stool and treat constipation. Similar to psyllium, flaxseed has been found in studies to improve heart health and lower cholesterol but also contains anti-inflammatory properties.1
Fiber-3 Organic Powder is recommended as an alternative for psyllium husk by The Candida Diet. It contain inulin and flaxseed which provide both soluble and insoluble fiber. The inulin will promote healthy regrowth of intestinal bacteria with its prebiotic effects.2
Candida die-off, or the Herxheimer reactions, refers to rapid killing of yeast cells which results in the release of 79 different toxins as metabolic by-products.2 These toxins can give symptoms that will make you want to quit your diet prematurely. A combination of psyllium husk and bentonite clay will effectively cleanse the colon of the toxins and candida.2
Probiotics can be taken with psyllium husks as they contain no prebiotic or probiotic properties on their own.7 A study by Fujimori, et al. found that psyllium in conjunction with probiotics offers more relief to ulcerative colitis patients than either substance individually.11
It is safe to use psyllium husk long term and initial symptoms of increased fiber in your diet will decrease with time.1,8,12
According to clinical studies: As a bulking agent, you should see an effect a few hours after your initial dose; hunger satisfaction should be seen in 30-60 minutes, and cholesterol lowering effects should be visible after about 8 weeks of regular use.1