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A psyllium cleanse is a natural method of cleansing the body using psyllium fiber. Cleansing can help relieve constipation and return bowl function to normal after irregularities. In some cases, a psyllium cleanse may help restore healthy cholesterol levels and reduce heart disease risk. Advocates of cleansing believe toxins build up in the intestines and colon, leading to increased health risk, fatigue and poor nutrient absorption.
In theory, a psyllium cleanse will help move food waste and toxins out of the body more efficiently. Psyllium is a natural laxative that acts as a scrubber by collecting waste as it moves through the intestine and eventually out of the body. Before starting a psyllium cleanse, it is important to consult a family physician. Psyllium fiber may not be the best choice for everyone, and a physician may suggest an alternate source of fiber. He or she also may suggest a prescription medication to regulate bowel function in more severe cases.
Psyllium fiber can be purchased from many vitamin shops or local health food stores. Typically, fiber comes in powder form, which is mixed with juice or water. Some versions are flavored and others are flavorless. Products marked “natural psyllium fiber” tend to have a bad taste, but contain no artificial sweeteners or additives.
Most versions of the psyllium cleanse suggest taking psyllium fiber in drink or smoothie form. Mixing psyllium fiber with water tends to lack taste, and juice can be high in sugar and may not be healthy for people with certain health conditions, such as diabetes. Smoothies generally taste better, but calorie totals can be high if full fat milk is added to the smoothie.
Psyllium fiber also can be sprinkled on top of food or mixed into cooked food. A typical serving of psyllium fiber is 1 to 2 tablespoons (about 15 to 30 grams) taken three times a day. There is no time limit for a psyllium cleanse, as is common with other forms of colon cleansing. Psyllium provides a healthy source of fiber that may be lacking in the typical diet.
There are a few warnings associated with a psyllium cleanse. Psyllium fiber is a bulk-forming laxative. Increased water intake is suggested to prevent constipation. Gas and bloating are common side effects in the first few days of a psyllium cleanse, but the symptoms tend to subside over time. Physicians also suggest taking psyllium fiber and prescription medications at different times of day, as psyllium may decrease the absorption of prescription medications; generally, it should not be taken within two hours of a prescribed medication.