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Can isabgol or psyllium husk worsen your constipation?

Read this if you are taking isabgol every day to treat your constipation.

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : November 16, 2017 10:49 AM IST

Constipation can force you to try every other natural remedy under the sun to get relief from it. One natural remedy that most people swear by to treat constipation is Isabgol or Psyllium husk. However, many also complain that isabgol or psyllium husk makes there constipation even worse. Well, that could be a possibility, because it s not isabgol, but when you take isabgol is what decides whether or not it will help you wade through the symptoms of constipation. Here are eight reasons why you should take isabgol or psyllium husk every day.

How isabgol or psyllium work?

Isabgol or Psyllium husk is a gelatinous substance which when soaked in water bulk ups. It is rich in fibre and is touted as a natural laxative. When consumed, it adds bulk to the stool making bowel movement easy. It has no taste or odour of its own. It doesn t absorb any nutrients from the digestive track, but water to make easy passage of the stool. Know if drinking tea or coffee in the morning can help to fight constipation.

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Even though it is supposed to be one of the best natural remedies to fight constipation, you should avoid taking isabgol or psyllium husk when you are constipated. Isabgol or Psyllium husk is an effective in preventing constipation and not treating it. Remember, isabgol is pure fibre something you need in your diet to add bulk to your stool, help in smooth passage and fight constipation. However, it is of no use if isabgol is used to treat active constipation as it makes the condition worse. In fact, when one is suffering from active constipation the need of the hour is to clean the bowel with laxatives, says Dr Jayshri Shah Consultant-Hepatologist, Gastroenterologist and Therapeutic Endoscopist at Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre.

When should you take isabgol or psyllium husk?

Isabgol or Psyllium husk is obtained from the plant psyllium and is extracted from its seeds. It is packaged and sold as over-the-counter product that can be bought from any medical store. Adding one spoon of the same to a glass of water or milk can help increase your fibre intake and act as a natural laxative to help the stool pass. But avoid taking it if you are already suffering from active constipation. This will add more bulk to your stool and strain during the passage. To use isabgol as a preventive measure to treat constipation, talk to your doctor to know how it can help you. Here is a sample meal plan for a fibre-rich diet.

However another way to deal with constipation is to improve your fibre intake through food, says Dr Shah:

  • Reduce carbohydrates in your diet. The Indian diet pattern enforces people to have four chapattis with just a bowl of sabzi, instead, reduce the rotis and include one more bowl of sabzi. If you are eating too much rice, cut down on the portion and add one chapatti with sabzi, she says.
  • Eat more salads and at least two to three servings of fruits.
  • Drink at least two to three litres of water.

When to go slow on fibre?

It is essential to know how much fibre you need and eat accordingly. Sometimes too much fibre can also have its side effects like it can lead to bloating and diarrhoea, the most common side effects of going high on fibre rich diets, says Dr Shah. Here are the side effects of going high on fibre-rich diet.

Remember fibre rich diet might not be helpful for everyone. A study was done to evaluate the effect of fibre on people who suffered from idiopathic constipation where a person passes motions less than three times a week saw that lowering dietary fibre helped reduce symptoms of constipation in them. The study done on 63 patients divided into three groups of no-fibre, low-fibre and high-fibre diet showed that patients who stopped or reduced dietary fibre had significant improvement in their symptoms while those who continued on a high fibre diet had no change [1]. This shows that the magic of dietary fibre doesn t work for everyone. So, if diet changes and cutting back on your vices like smoking and drinking isn t helping you talk to your doctor regarding the same.


Ho, K. S., Tan, C. Y. M., Daud, M. A. M., & Seow-Choen, F. (2012). Stopping or reducing dietary fibre intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms. World journal of gastroenterology: WJG, 18(33), 4593.

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