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  5. A doctor takes psyllium husk for constipation relief every morning. Here's why she recommends it to so many patients.

A doctor takes psyllium husk for constipation relief every morning. Here's why she recommends it to so many patients.

Kate Hull   

A doctor takes psyllium husk for constipation relief every morning. Here's why she recommends it to so many patients.
  • Dr. Wendi LeBrett is a doctor who takes psyllium husk every morning.
  • She says it can help with constipation, acid reflux, and other ailments.

When Dr. Wendi LeBrett became constipated in 2020 after trying the keto diet, she turned to a centuries-old supplement: Psyllium husk.

Psyllium husk is a mostly soluble fiber which can ease constipation and alleviate diarrhea. Commonplace in South Asian households, the supplement is becoming increasingly popular in America as a result of its health benefits. Psyllium husk benefits include its ability to serve as a binder in gluten-free baked goods, and for potentially helping with weight-loss.

For LeBrett, psyllium worked like a charm. "It really helped with managing my own personal constipation symptoms," LeBrett said.

Now, taking psyllium husk is "part of my morning routine," LeBrett told Insider. "It's the first thing I take before I eat anything else, before I drink coffee," she said.

LeBrett works as gastroenterology medical fellow and also runs a TikTok account under the name @socalgastrodoc, where she educates her followers on digestive health. Psyllium husk has become one of her first recommendations for both her patients and followers struggling with constipation.

LeBrett, like many Americans, struggled to consume enough fiber

Like many Americans — roughly 93%, according to the American Society for Nutrition — LeBrett wasn't getting enough fiber in her diet, leading to constipation.

Fortunately, a dietician she was working with at the time turned her onto psyllium husk.

"The more I learned and studied about it, I realized it was very beneficial," LeBrett said.

Not only does psyllium husk help with gastrointestinal issues like constipation, diarrhea and bloating, LeBrett said, but increased fiber intake — including through psyllium — can help with other health issues, like acid reflux, managing type 2 diabetes and lowering cholesterol.

Now, LeBrett says, if she goes even a few days without taking it, "I can definitely notice a difference."

Don't be thrown off by the goopy consistency, she says

One of the biggest roadblocks people run into when trying psyllium for the first time, LeBrett said, is the supplement's consistency.

Psyllium husk, when mixed with water, forms a gelatinous paste — and swallowing the goopy mixture can make for an unpleasant experience.

"I would say it took me a long time to get used to the consistency," LeBrett recalls. But now she's used to it. Each morning, she drinks unsweetened coarse psyllium fiber mixed with water.

For patients who struggle with the consistency, LeBrett says you can opt for capsules instead or a product like Bellway, which mixes the psyllium with stevia based sweetened fruit to make it more palatable.

If you're looking to try psyllium husk, start slow

For patients looking to try psyllium husk, LeBrett recommends starting slow — just one teaspoon a day — and working your way up. Like other forms of fiber, taking too much right away can cause uncomfortable bloating and gas.

LeBrett also recommends persistence — try to take it consistently for a few weeks and see how you feel. With that being said, "if it's not working for you, don't force yourself to take it," LeBrett said. "There are other good sources of fiber out there." Some of her other recommendations for constipation are fruits like kiwi, mango and dragon fruit.

Finally, LeBrett said that while it could help with weight loss, it won't be as effective as actual weight-loss medications like Wegovy. However, she does think it's a useful supplement "that has a lot of health benefits outside the GI tract as well."

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