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Psyllium

What is it?

Psyllium is a bulk laxative used in the treatment of constipation. It is also used to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure.

Other names for Psyllium include: Plantain, Ispaghula, Indian Plantago, Ispagol, and Spogel.

Ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist if you need more information about this medicine or if any information in this leaflet concerns you.

Before Using:

Tell your doctor if you

  • are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine (prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) or dietary supplement)
  • are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medicine
  • are breastfeeding
  • have an intestinal blockage, spastic bowel conditions, or swallowing problems
  • have any other health problems, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease

Dosage:

Talk with your caregiver about how much Psyllium you should take. The amount depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking Psyllium. If you are using this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, follow the directions on the medicine bottle. Do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you to.

To store this medicine:

Keep all medicine locked up and away from children. Store medicine away from heat and direct light. Do not store your medicine in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down and not work the way it should work. Throw away medicine that is out of date or that you do not need. Never share your medicine with others.

Drug and Food Interactions:

Do not take Psyllium without talking to your doctor if you are taking:

  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol(R))
  • Lithium (Eskalith(R) Lithobid(R))
  • Medicines used for diabetes to lower blood sugar (examples are: Glyburide (DiaBeta(R), Glynase PresTab(R), Micronase(R)); Insulin; Metformin (Glucophage(R)))

Warnings:

  • Before taking Psyllium, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Do not take if you have an intestinal blockage (obstruction), spastic bowel conditions, or swallowing problems (1,2,5)
  • Do not take if you have a fecal impaction (large amount of stool that you cannot pass) (1)
  • Drink plenty of water when taking Psyllium (1)
  • Call your doctor if you are using Psyllium and there is no change in bowel movements in two weeks (2)

Side Effects:

Stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the following side effects. Your medicine may be causing these symptoms which may mean you are allergic to it.

  • Breathing problems or tightness in your throat or chest
  • Chest pain
  • Skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin

Other Side Effects:

You may have the following side effects, but this medicine may also cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have side effects that you think are caused by this medicine.

  • Breathing or swallowing problems, vomiting (throwing up), or chest pain (2)
  • Rectal bleeding (2)
  • Psyllium may get stuck in the throat (esophageal obstruction) (1)
  • Passing more gas (1)
  • Stomach bloating (1)

References:

1. Newall CA, Anderson LA & Phillipson JD: Ispaghula. In: Herbal Medicines. A Guide for Health-Care Professionals. Pharmaceutical Press, London, UK; 1996.

2. Product Information, Perdiem (R), Novartis Consumer Health Inc., Summit, NJ; 1997.

3. Anon: Drug Facts and Comparisons. Facts and Comparisons Inc, St Louis, MO; 1998: 2120-2121.

4. Reynolds JEF (ed): Martindale, the Extra Pharmacopoeia, 29th edition. The Pharmaceutical Press, London, UK; 1989.

5. Levy MH: Constipation and diarrhea in cancer patients. Cancer Bull 1991; 43:412-422.

6. Fetrow CW & Avila JR: The Professional's Handbook of Complementary and Alternative Medicines. Springhouse Corporation, Springhouse, PA; 1999.

7. Sierra M, Garcia JJ, Fernandez N et al: Effects of ispaghula husk and guar gum on postprandial glucose and insulin concentrations in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 2001; 55(4):235-243.


Last Updated: 4/4/2014

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