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Although uncommon, you may experience an allergic reaction while taken psyllium husk supplements. Psyllium is an herb that is considered to be very high in fiber. The husk of the plant is ground into a powder that is used in dietary supplements to soften stool and promote healthy bowel movements. Although MedlinePlus states that psyllium husk is considered safe for most people, if you experience an adverse reaction after taking the supplement, discontinue use and talk with a doctor 1.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
If you are allergic to psyllium, your immune system overreacts to the proteins found in the herb. The body fails to recognize the herb as a safe substance and begins to defend itself. The immune system produces antibodies that attack the proteins found in psyllium husk. This chemical release into the blood leads to increased histamine production in the mast cells. High levels of histamine are what cause most allergic reaction symptoms, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology 3.
- If you are allergic to psyllium, your immune system overreacts to the proteins found in the herb.
- The immune system produces antibodies that attack the proteins found in psyllium husk.
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An allergic reaction to psyllium husk may result in symptoms within a few minutes after ingesting the herb. Common first symptoms of an allergic reaction to psyllium husk are shortness of breath, itching and a rash, according to Aetna’s IntelliHealth 2. Other symptoms may include:
- chest pain
Severe Allergic Reaction Consideration
As with any food-related allergy, you may experience anaphylactic shock from a severe allergic reaction. Anaphylactic shock is an extreme allergic reaction that affects the entire body. Anaphylactic shock can result in death. Call for emergency medical attention if these symptoms develop.
- As with any food-related allergy, you may experience anaphylactic shock from a severe allergic reaction.
- Anaphylactic shock can result in death.
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Mild allergic reactions can be treated with oral antihistamines. Antihistamines block the body from creating histamine, which causes most allergic symptoms. Skin rashes from a psyllium husk allergy can be treated with hydrocortisone creams. Hydrocortisone is a milk steroid that reduces skin inflammation and itching. Anaphylactic shock is treated with an injection of epinephrine. Talk with your doctor before using any medication.
- Mild allergic reactions can be treated with oral antihistamines.
- Skin rashes from a psyllium husk allergy can be treated with hydrocortisone creams.
If you suspect you have an allergy to psyllium husk, talk with an allergist. An allergist is the most qualified medical professional to diagnose and treat a psyllium husk allergy. Allergy testing will be performed with a skin test and blood test.
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- MedlinePlus: Blond Psyllium
- Aetna's InteliHealth: Psyllium Husk
- American Acadmey of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: Allergic Reactions
- Xiao Z, Chen H, Zhang Y, et al. The effect of psyllium consumption on weight, body mass index, lipid profile, and glucose metabolism in diabetic patients: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytother Res. 2020. doi:10.1002/ptr.6609
- Anderson JW, Allgood LD, Lawrence A, et al. Cholesterol-lowering effects of psyllium intake adjunctive to diet therapy in men and women with hypercholesterolemia: a meta-analysis of 8 controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:472-479.
- deBock M, Derraik JGB, Brennan CM et al. Psyllium supplementation in adolescents improves fat distribution and lipid profile: a randomized, participant-blinding, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. PLoS One 2012;7:e41735.
- Ribas SA, Cunha DB, Sichieri R et al. Effects of psyllium on LDL cholesterol concentrations in Brazilian children and adolescents: a randomized, parallel clinical trial. Br J Nutr 2015;113:134-141.
- Van Rosendaal GMA, Shaffer EA, Edwards EL, et al. Effect of time of administration on cholesterol-lowering by psyllium: a randomized cross-over study in normocholesterolemic or slightly hypercholesterolemic subjects. Nutr J 2004;3:1-7.
- Wei W, Wang H, Chen XY et al. Time and dose-dependent effect of psyllium on serum lipids in mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia: a meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials. Eur J Clin Nutr 2009;63:821-827.
Diane Marks started her writing career in 2010 and has been in health care administration for more than 30 years. She holds a registered nurse license from Citizens General Hospital School of Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in health care education from California University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Science in health administration from the University of Pittsburgh.