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Black Psyllium

What is it?

Black psyllium comes from the seed husks of the Plantago arenaria plant. It contains high amounts of soluble dietary fiber.

Black psyllium adds bulk to the stool which might help with constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It also controls how quickly sugars are absorbed from the gut, which might help control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

People commonly use black psyllium for treating and preventing constipation. It is also used for diarrhea, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.

Don't confuse black psyllium with blond psyllium. These are not the same.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for BLACK PSYLLIUM are as follows:

Effective for...

  • Constipation. Consuming soluble dietary fiber by mouth, including black psyllium, is effective for short-term constipation. It's found in over-the-counter (OTC) products for this use.

Likely effective for...

  • Heart disease. Consuming foods high in soluble fiber, including black psyllium, as part of a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, might help prevent heart disease. At least 7 grams of psyllium husk must be consumed daily.
There is interest in using black psyllium for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.

Is it safe?

When taken by mouth: Black psyllium is likely safe when consumed with plenty of water. Drink at least 8 ounces of fluids for every 3-5 grams of husk or 7 grams of seed. Mild side effects include bloating and gas. In some people, black psyllium can cause allergic reactions.

Black psyllium is likely unsafe when consumed without enough water. It might cause choking or block the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking black psyllium during pregnancy or breast-feeding seems to be safe, as long as enough fluids are taken with each dose.

Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders: Don't use black psyllium if you tend to develop hard stools in the rectum due to GI tract narrowing, or have a condition that can lead to obstruction, such as spastic bowel.

Phenylketonuria: Some black psyllium products might be sweetened with aspartame (NutraSweet). If you have phenylketonuria, avoid these products.

Swallowing disorders: Do not use black psyllium if you have problems swallowing. Black psyllium might increase your risk of choking.

Are there interactions with medications?

Moderate
Be cautious with this combination.
Carbamazepine (Tegretol)
Black psyllium contains large amounts of fiber. Fiber can decrease how much carbamazepine the body absorbs. This might decrease the effects of carbamazepine.
Lithium
Black psyllium contains large amounts of fiber. Fiber can decrease how much lithium the body absorbs. This might decrease the effects of lithium. To avoid this interaction, take black psyllium at least 1 hour after lithium.
Metformin (Glucophage)
Black psyllium contains large amounts of fiber. The fiber in psyllium might increase how much metformin the body absorbs. This might increase the effects of metformin. To avoid this interaction, take black psyllium 30-60 minutes after medications you take by mouth.
Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
Black psyllium contains large amounts of fiber. Fiber can decrease how much olanzapine the body absorbs. This might decrease the effects of olanzapine.
Minor
Be watchful with this combination.
Digoxin (Lanoxin)
Black psyllium is high in fiber. Fiber can decrease how much digoxin the body absorbs. This might decrease the effects of digoxin.
Ethinyl estradiol
Ethinyl estradiol is a form of estrogen. Psyllium can decrease how much ethinyl estradiol the body absorbs. But it is unlikely that this will reduce the effects of ethinyl estradiol.
Medications taken by mouth (Oral drugs)
Black psyllium contains large amounts of fiber. Fiber can decrease, increase, or have no effect on how much medicine the body absorbs. Taking black psyllium along with medicine you take by mouth can impact the effects of your medicine. To prevent this interaction, take black psyllium 30-60 minutes after medications you take by mouth.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

Iron
Taking black psyllium with iron supplements can reduce the amount of iron that the body absorbs. To avoid this interaction, take iron supplements one hour before or four hours after black psyllium.
Riboflavin
Psyllium seems to slightly reduce the amount of riboflavin that the body absorbs. But this probably isn't a big concern.

Are there interactions with foods?

Taking psyllium can make it difficult to digest fat from the diet. This can increase the amount of fat lost in the stool. Taking psyllium with meals over a long period of time might also affect nutrient absorption. In some cases, it might be necessary to take vitamin or mineral supplements.

How is it typically used?

Black psyllium has most often been used by adults in doses of 10-30 grams by mouth, in 1-3 divided doses daily, for up to 6 months. Always drink at least 8 ounces of fluids for every 3-5 grams of husk or 7 grams of seed. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.

Other names

African Plantain, Brown Psyllium, Dietary Fiber, Erva-das-pulgas, Fibre Alimentaire, Fleaseed, Fleawort, Flohkraut, Flohsamen, French Psyllium, Glandular Plantain, Graine de Psyllium, Herbe aux Puces, Œil-de-Chien, Pilicaire, Plantain, Plantago afra, Plantago arenaria, Plantago indica, Plantago psyllium, Plantain, Plantain Pucier, Psyllii Semen, Psyllion, Psyllios, Psyllium, Psyllium arenarium, Psyllium Brun, Psyllium d'Espagne, Psyllium indica, Psyllium Noir, Psyllium Seed, Pucière, Pucilaire, Scharzer Flohsame, Spanish Psyllium, Zaragatona.

Methodology

To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.

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Last reviewed - 02/04/2022