Psyllium is a bulk-forming laxative available in over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that treat occasional constipation and restore regularity. Psyllium is also available as a dietary supplement. It may be written as psyllium or psyllium husk, but it is the same ingredient. Psyllium can be found in OTC laxative powders, pills, and wafers.

When used as an OTC laxative medicine, psyllium is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is safe and effective when used according to the Drug Facts label. It is important to drink plenty of liquid when taking an OTC medicine containing psyllium. Taking a psyllium laxative without adequate fluid may cause the throat or esophagus to swell and choking may occur. If you develop chest pain, vomiting, or difficulty swallowing or breathing after taking the medicine, get immediate medical attention.

  • You have a sudden change in bowel habits that lasts for two weeks.
  • You are experiencing abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting.
  • You have difficulty swallowing.
  • Your constipation lasts for more than seven days.
  • Rectal bleeding occurs.
  • You take too much. Immediately contact a healthcare provider or the poison control national helpline at 800.222.1222.
  • If you are treating a child between the ages of 6 and 11 with psyllium, you should consider using the wafer or powder form of the medicine.
  • Talk to a healthcare provider before giving an OTC psyllium medicine in pill form to a child under the age of 12.
  • Click here for more information on giving OTCs to children.