Psyllium dangers?


Date: Tue, 2 Jan 1996 12:56:00 MST
From: Michael Moore <hrbmoore.RT66.COM>
Subject: Re: Psyllium dangers?

> I've heard that psyllium is not advised (especially for people with chemical sensitivities) and I'm wondering if anyone knows how true the following comments are about psyllium use and whether using it for roughage say 2 or so times a week would produce the following reactions:
> Psyllium causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. It gets into the cells and activates it so that the body produces an immunological radical reaction which causes astronomical titers. People get sensitized to psyllium. Even people who just handle it (like nurses and doctors) get a violent immunological reaction. It produces a very high degree of antibodies as the body reacts to it (titers goes way up). If too many antibodies are produced, it can affect the kidney glomuerial filtering unit. It produces hormonal effects because hormones are flushed out. The reason it causes water to be brought into the gut is because the body is trying to inactivate the material.

I don't mean to be offensive...but this sounds like twaddle.

The surface mucosa of the ascending and transverse colon obtain the majority of their nutrients NOT from the bloodstream but from the release of free-fatty-acids by bacterial action upon indigested carboydrates released into the cecum from the small intestine. Indigested, that is, because they are UNDIGESTABLE...the famed "Soluble Fiber" of nutritional labels (and a former rhythm-and-blues group from East St. Louis that was under contract to Scepter Records back in the mid-60s :-) .

Much of the poor mucosal tone and diminished healing capabilities found in low-fiber diets...and hospital/nursing home diets...results from little or no soluble fiber to be found in these refined-carbo "manufactured" foods.

It's NOT simply the low-volume constipative nature of such diets, but the further aggravation caused by poor "nourishment" of the colon mucosa.

Increasing soluble fiber in the diet (increased legumes is the easiest way to start) will generally aid in helping the mucosa to regenerate under stress and heal ulcerations or localized edema and submucosal necrosis.

Psyllium is almost PURE soluble fiber...and nearly devoid of toxicity...short of drowning in a bath-tub filled with Psyllium hydrogel. The frequent use of Psyllium OTC preparations is a delightful example of a purely palliative use that, in fact, is also substantially supportive to tissue health (an accidentally holistic commercial product)

I have been kicking around in the herb industry for 27 ( 28) years, and the milling of virtually EVERY herb can and does cause respiratory distress in some workers...especially those whose airborne dust is highly water-absorbant, such as the root starch/saponins of the Blue/Black Cohoshes, Wild Yam, any Araliaceae (such as Ginseng), any Liliaceae, any Orchidaceae...OR those herbs that contain "collapsed" Psyllium, Chia, Slippery Elm, Comfrey etc...used because they form soothing colloids.

>Psyllium causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

If you view Psyllium as a source of appropriate combustible fuel for the colon mucosa (bacterially-released FFA), than it is understandable that, given food again, "starved" tissues may do what all "starved" tissues do: set about healing by inducing increased capillary volume...getting pissed off and inflamed.

This is the way ALL tissues react, when they are able to return to normal function after a period of forced inactivity...whether from circulatory deficiency (a compressed limb), diminished removal of metabolic waste (a migraine headache)...or starvation.

It's normal and necessary...suppressed states are usually resolved through increased combustion...they need calories to heal. Increased combustion will produce free radicals in DIRECT proprortion to the increase in aerobic combustion. That's the way it is. Period. Burn hotter, make more oxygen radicals. No alternative in the known universe. Feed underfed membranes, produce more heat, energy, AND wastes...including the dreaded Free Radicals.

The other side of the coin, allowing tissues to stay in a diminished metabolic state, is perfectly fine IF THERE IS NO DEMAND MADE on the tissues. As long as one passes food through the colon, over "cold" membranes, those membranes will go through the litany of abused tissues that cannot escape stress:

A. Inflammation (hot), unresolved, leading to
B. Capillary leakage, ending up as
C. Congestion (cold), with diminished fluid movement, leading to
D. Increased interstitial fluid, leading to overt
E. Edema, which must be resolved by isolating the excess fluid into a
F. Blister/cyst which, if the stress remains, become an
G. Ulcer which, if not allowed to heal, starts to
H. Bleed, and so forth

If Psyllium Seed causes inflammation, it is because tissues with low vital energy are now able to respond properly. This, in fact, I have NEVER seen cause any distress.

There is virtually NO protein presence in the mucopolysaccharide collapsed-colloid husks of Psyllium Seeds...and proteins (or at least polypeptides) are necessary, generally, to induce a true allergic reaction.

Psyllium (a Plantain), like many annual plants, such as Flax and Chia Sage, cover their seeds with a water-holding starch. One drop of rain will be absorbed by the seed, allowing it to swell up like a frog egg...and supplying the sustained moisture that allows it to sprout. The same is true of legumes, Amaranths, Chenopodiums, grasses, etc. These FOODS are the primary source of human dietary soluble fiber...and always HAVE been.

Taking Psyllium Seed preparations is a "Supplement" approach to poor colon health...the best long-term approach is, of course, a change in the diet; Psyllium Seed husks are virtually devoid of any nutritional value (other than soluble fiber).

But they are NOT toxic.

Michael Moore (

From: jonathan treasure <jonno.TELEPORT.COM>

I was about to reply to the ridiculous statements about Psyllium when I scrolled down my digest mailing to see that Michael MOORE had already done so all I have to say is I agree with Michael but would add a small point by way of amplification:

Michael says in his comments:
>If Psyllium Seed causes inflammation, it is because tissues with low vital energy are now able to respond properly. This, in fact, I have NEVER seen cause any distress.

Since Psyllium is about 30% mucilage, mucilages are hydrophilic polysaccharides ie long chain sugars that love water (also containing some uronic acid and its relatives)and they bulk up to ten times their dry volume by absorbing water, SO it is actually necessary to ingest a good deal of water when taking Psyllium otherwise effectively the Psyllium will extract water FROM the mucosa and act as an astringent - this could conceivably cause irritation.....but is NOT the correct manner of taking the crude herb as a laxative, and not the effect the original post alleged. In fact swallowing Psyllium husks past the oropharynx is virtually impossible without drinking loads of water at the same time....Incidentally mucilages actually make it to the colon and beyond because they are resistant to enzymatic degradation - they also have the interesting characteristic of acting via "reflex" from their action on the GI mucosa they can produce reactions in the mucosa of the respiratory and bronchiolar tree - as well as the urinary tract........ etc etc . Note that mucilage is only one component of dietary fibre which includes pectins, cellulose, hemicelluloses, etc blah check your favourite pharmacognosy text.

>There is virtually NO protein presence in the mucopolysaccharide collapsed-colloid husks of Psyllium Seeds...and proteins (or at least polypeptides) are necessary, generally, to induce a true allergic reaction.

Hmmm - then how do immunostimulant polysaccharrides "work" Michael ? :-)

returning to the original post - the information was, as someone pointed out, written in the usual alarmist style that betrays a certain ill-informed approach to try and trash herbal medicine - if you have to reproduce such garbage then at least do it with herbs that are risque, exciting, dangerous and with known toxicity or worse still psychotropic side that the old lags will really get out of their strollers ( or prams) and give us a tour de force defence of the poor plant victim - but Psyllium - a bulk laxative oh pleeeeeze...spare us...really not number one in the FDA's hit list is it?

From: Nancy Goren <nancy.TUX.MUSIC.ASU.EDU>

> Psyllium causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.

I take psyllium regularly and have never had any complications. However, I know someone who worked for the company that makes Metamucil who handled psyllium in its raw form. He had to operate the hopper which dispensed psyllium into the other ingredients. It was a known fact that those exposed daily to psyllium dust eventually became allergic and developed lung irritations and breathing difficulties. So the company regularly rotated people off this assignment after a few years when they started to show symptoms. The person I know was given a year's sick leave with pay and eventually offered another position with the company.

From: Dale Kemery <DalePK.AOL.COM>

I seriously question the deleterious effects you report about psyllium. I've been using it for a number of years with absolutely no negative reactions. I question it still further because it's so widely available--and widely used--in the form of psyllium hydrophilic mucilloid. However, there *is* a warning on the package: "May cause allergic reaction in people sensitive to inhaled or ingested psyllium."

In short, there is probably a small percentage of people who may be hypersensitive. If you're one of them, you probably should avoid it. Otherwise, there's nothing in my personal experience and nothing I've read that would substantiate the extreme effects you mention. The main thing to remember is to use it with plenty of water.