Answer:

Psyllium (such as in Metamucil®) may help control hunger. A clinical study (funded by the maker of Metamucil®) of 30 healthy adults put on reduced-calorie, low fiber diets found that drinking 6.8 g of psyllium (2 teaspoons) mixed with 1.2 cups of water before breakfast and lunch for 3 days modestly decreased hunger and desire to eat between meals, as compared to a placebo of matching taste and color. A lower dose (3.4 g) was not as effective and a higher dose (10.2 g) was no more effective. The specific psyllium product used was Metamucil Orange Sugar Free Fiber Singles (Procter & Gamble). Mild to moderate gastrointestinal side effects were reported in about 7% of people taking 6.8 g psyllium or placebo (Brum, 2016 Appetite).

As the participants were put on a low-fiber diet (to better assess the effects of psyllium), it's not clear if the same benefits would be seen for a person already consuming greater amounts of fiber from their diet. In addition, it is not known if taking psyllium is helpful in achieving weight control.

Psyllium, a gel forming viscous soluble fiber, may also improve blood glucose levels and insulin response and modestly lower total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol.

Psyllium can cause gas and bloating. Do not use psyllium if you have difficulty swallowing, and consult your doctor before using if you have kidney disease. In some people, regular use of psyllium may cause an increase in eosinophils (a type of white blood), levels of which are known to increase in response to allergens, infection or inflammation (Nelson, JAMA 1980). Psyllium can also affect the absorption of many drugs, so be sure to consult your physician if you are taking any medications.

For more information about psyllium, including clinical evidence, safety and drug interactions, see the ConsumerLab.com Fiber Supplements Expert Webinar.

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4 Comments

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Arthur9779
June 8, 2016

I do not recommend Metamucil to my patients. It contains soluble and insoluble fiber which is important to health but Metamucil contains either sugar or artificial sweeteners (which are questionably healthy). Now brands sells psyllium husks without added sweeteners and is much cheaper.

The organic brand is more expensive but is my preference (although this is my opinion and there are no studies to prove that organic is healthier). Capsules are more convenient but do not contain as much psyllium.

I have had excellent results with my patients in helping control weight, glucose levels, cholesterol, and BP. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22845031

I have no financial ties to either Metamucil or Now brands products.

Art Sands MD
Family Physician

Belinda11320
October 2, 2016

Our Doctor recommends Konsyl, also no sugar or artificial chemicals. And there is more psyllium per tsp. though it is quite expensive. Any thoughts on this brand? We do feel generally better and have less water retention when we take this regularly.

Victoria16648
April 1, 2018

For the past 3 years, my eosinophil count has been elevated. It’s not considered high, but my doctor has me retest my blood every 6 months to be cautious. I recently saw in an article regarding eosinophilia, that psyllium, and products containing psyllium, can cause a rise in eosinophil count. I have taken psyllium for years. I brought it up with my doctor, and I’ve stopped taking psyllium. My blood is due to be drawn sometime in April, so I will know if that was the contributing factor.

ConsumerLab.com
April 10, 2018

Thank you for sharing this, Victoria. We've added information about an increase in eosinophils associated with psyllium use in the answer above.

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