Can Psyllium Husk Help With Weight Loss?

psyllium seed husks on a rock surface

John Kelly / Getty Images

One popular remedy for weight loss is psyllium (Plantago ovata), a plant that produces seed husks that are rich in soluble fiber (one of the two main types of dietary fiber). The type of soluble fiber in psyllium is known as mucilage. When it is mixed with water, it thickens to a gel.

Found in foods like flaxseeds and legumes, soluble fiber is thought to aid in blood sugar control and help lower cholesterol. In addition, psyllium fiber is said to suppress appetite. It expands to form a gel-like substance in the gut, which may help you feel fuller for longer and promote weight loss.

Psyllium fiber is also used to relieve constipation and soften stools, improve symptoms of some types of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), firm up loose stools and diarrhea, and regulate blood sugar in people with diabetes. Due to its ability to promote bowel regularity, psyllium is also said to cleanse the colon.

Psyllium is a relatively inexpensive, readily available source of fiber. One teaspoon of psyllium husks has about 3 grams of fiber.

In the United States, the recommended daily fiber intake is 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women under 50. If you're over 50, the recommendations are 30 grams for men and 21 grams for women. Most adults consume 15 grams or less a day.

Psyllium and Weight Loss

By forming a thick gel in your stomach, psyllium may enhance fullness (and, in turn, discourage overeating). So far, however, studies on psyllium's effects on appetite and weight have yielded mixed results.

In a study published in Appetite in 2016, psyllium taken before breakfast and lunch for three days resulted in less hunger and increased fullness between meals compared to a placebo. Of the doses tested (3.4, 6.8, and 10.2g), the 6.8g dose provided more consistent satiety benefits over the placebo.

Another 2016 study (published in Nutrition Journal) found that people with type 2 diabetes who took 10.5 grams of psyllium daily for eight weeks had a lower body mass index (BMI) compared to those who ate their regular diet for eight weeks. Additionally, fasting blood sugar, insulin, and other blood markers improved after psyllium supplementation.

However, a study published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine in 2016 found that 12 weeks of psyllium supplementation had no effect on weight or body mass index (BMI) in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Psyllium Safety and Side Effects

Psyllium is generally considered safe when used as recommended, but it may trigger certain side effects such as gas, bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea, and nausea. And although it is rare, some people do have allergic reactions. Call your doctor right away if you experience unusual symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Itchiness
  • Stomach pain

It's best to start with a low dose and slowly increase the amount you take over one to two weeks until you reach the recommended dosage. Mix psyllium well with the recommended amount of water (typically, one teaspoon per 8 ounces of fluids). Staying hydrated helps to keep stool soft and makes bowel movements easier to pass.

Taking psyllium with insufficient fluids or in large doses is a choking hazard and also may lead to bowel obstruction. If your constipation worsens while you are taking psyllium, stop taking it and speak with your doctor.

Psyllium shouldn't be taken by people with acute stomach problems (like appendicitis), bowel obstructions or spasms, difficulty swallowing, colorectal adenoma, or a narrowing or obstruction anywhere in the digestive tract. People with kidney disease and those who are taking certain medications may not be able to take psyllium supplements.

A Word From Verywell

While upping your soluble fiber intake from foods may help you feel fuller for longer, there currently isn't enough evidence to recommend psyllium solely as a weight loss aid. If you have difficulty getting enough fiber from food or have health concerns that might be helped by boosting your soluble fiber intake, adding some psyllium to your diet may be beneficial. But talk with your healthcare provider first to discuss whether it's appropriate for you.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Brum JM, Gibb RD, Peters JC, Mattes RD. Satiety effects of psyllium in healthy volunteers. Appetite. 2016;105:27-36. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2016.04.041

  2. Jalanka J, Major G, Murray K, et al. The effect of psyllium husk on intestinal microbiota in constipated patients and healthy controls. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(2). doi:10.3390/ijms20020433

  3. Abutair AS, Naser IA, Hamed AT. Soluble fibers from psyllium improve glycemic response and body weight among diabetes type 2 patients (randomized control trial). Nutr J. 2016;15(1):86. doi:10.1186/s12937-016-0207-4

  4. Akbarian SA, Asgary S, Feizi A, Iraj B, Askari G. Comparative study on the effect of and seeds on anthropometric measures in nonalcoholic fatty liver patients. Int J Prev Med. 2016;7:114. doi:10.4103/2008-7802.191865

  5. University of Michigan Medicine. Psyllium.

  6. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Psyllium.