Psyllium husk, a fiber supplement derived from the shells of psyllium seed, is an excellent holistic remedy for constipation, diarrhea, high cholesterol and several other common disorders. In general, psyllium husk is safe when it is used as directed. However, there are some psyllium husk contraindications. If you fall into any of the following categories, psyllium husk supplements may not be safe for you. Consult your health care provider before taking psyllium husk, particularly if you have a medical condition.
People with Impacted Stool
If you have impacted stool– a serious condition that occurs when feces becomes too hard to evacuate with normal bowel movements– you should not take psyllium. Impacted stool is a psyllium husk contraindication because it could increase the chances of a bowel obstruction, which would require surgery to prevent life-threatening problems.
People with Narrowing of the GI Tract
Narrowing of the gastrointestinal tract, which can occur as a complication of spastic bowel, is a psyllium husk contraindication. If your bowels are abnormally narrow, psyllium husk may expand in your intestines and cause a bowel obstruction. Do not take psyllium husk if you have a narrow GI tract.
People with Psyllium Allergy
If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a psyllium husk supplement, such a Metamucil, you should never take psyllium husk again. Symptoms of a psyllium husk allergy include wheezing, hives and rash after ingesting the product. Psyllium husk allergies are most common in people with allergies to latex and grass.
People with Phenylketonuria
If you have phenylketonuria, or PKU, read the product label carefully before taking psyllium husk. Although phenylketonuria is not necessarily a psyllium husk contraindication, it is important to note that many fiber supplements are sweetened with aspartame (Nutrasweet), which can be dangerous to people with this condition.
People with Swallowing Disorders
Psyllium husk can expand when it interacts with saliva, leading to choking and suffocation in susceptible individuals. If you have difficulty swallowing because of a central nervous system disorder or an obstruction in your throat or esophagus, you should not take psyllium husk supplements. These conditions increase your chances of choking on the product.
Visit the National Institutes of Health for more information about psyllium husk contraindications.