Ispaghula husk for constipation - Fybogel, Ispagel

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Take the contents of each sachet of ispaghula husk stirred into a glass of water (about 150 ml). Drink it straightaway after mixing.

Eating a healthy diet, drinking plenty of water and getting regular gentle exercise can all help prevent constipation.

It may take a few days before you feel the full benefit from taking ispaghula husk.

Type of medicine A bulk-forming laxative
Used for Constipation
Also called Fybogel®; Ispagel®
Available as Effervescent granules in sachets

Constipation is a common problem which can be caused by a number of things. Not eating enough fibre or not drinking enough fluid can cause constipation. Some conditions (such as pregnancy) can cause constipation, as can a lack of exercise or movement (such as being ill in bed) and some medicines.

Often, increasing the amount of bran in your diet and drinking plenty of water each day can effectively prevent or relieve constipation. You will have been recommended ispaghula husk to help relieve constipation if you cannot increase the amount of bran in your diet, or if this is insufficient. Ispaghula husk, a laxative,  works by increasing the bulk of your stools, which encourages your bowels to move the stools through your digestive system, which in turn relieves constipation.

Sachets containing granules of ispaghula husk are available on prescription, and can also be bought without a prescription at pharmacies and other retail outlets.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, ask for advice from a doctor or pharmacist before you start using ispaghula husk if any of the following apply to you:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • If it is for a child. This is because laxatives should only be given to children on the advice of a doctor or healthcare professional.
  • If you have any difficulty in swallowing.
  • If you are so constipated that you think you may have a blockage.
  • If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about ispaghula husk and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience.
  • Take ispaghula husk exactly as your doctor tells you to, or as directed on the pack. The usual dose for an adult is one sachet taken twice a day. Pour the granules from the sachet into a glass of water (about 150 ml), stir well, and then drink the liquid as soon as possible.
  • It is best if you take your doses just after a meal. Never take a dose at bedtime.
  • If a doctor or healthcare professional has recommended ispaghula husk for your child, check the label on the pack carefully to make sure that you give the correct dose for the age of your child. Remember to stir the granules into a glass of water before giving it to your child.
  • If you forget to take a dose, do not worry, just take the next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • Sometimes it may take a few days before you feel the full benefit from a bulk-forming laxative such as ispaghula husk. However, if after several days you do not feel that your symptoms are improving, or if they get any worse, you should speak with a doctor.
  • It is important to drink plenty while you are taking ispaghula husk. Adults should aim to drink at least two litres (about 8-10 cups) of fluid per day. Most sorts of drink will do, but as a start, try just drinking a glass of water 3-4 times a day in addition to what you normally drink.
  • Try to eat a balanced diet containing high-fibre foods such as wholemeal and wholegrain breads and cereals, fruit and vegetables, brown rice and wholemeal pasta. If you are not used to a high-fibre diet, it may be best to increase the amount of fibre you eat gradually.
  • Keeping your body active will help you to keep your digestive system moving, so try to take some regular daily exercise.
  • You may wish to include some foods that contain sorbitol in your diet. Sorbitol is a naturally occurring sugar. It is not digested very well and draws water into your bowel which has an effect of softening stools. Fruits (and their juices) that have a high sorbitol content include apples, apricots, gooseberries, grapes (and raisins), peaches, pears, plums, prunes, raspberries and strawberries.
  • Food such as pastries, puddings, sweets, cheese and cake can make constipation worse and are probably best avoided.
  • You can read more about how to prevent or treat constipation in the separate condition leaflets called Constipation in adults and Constipation in children.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains the ones which sometimes occur with ispaghula husk. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Ispaghula husk side-effects What can I do if I experience this?
Mild allergic-type reactions such as nose or eye irritation, feeling short of breath, itchy skin Stop taking the granules and speak with your doctor or pharmacist for advice
Excess wind (flatulence), bloating, tummy (abdominal) discomfort As you become used to the extra fibre, these effects should settle down

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the granules, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

If you are due to have an operation or any dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

If you buy any medicines, always check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Fybogel® Orange; Forum Health Products Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated May 2006.
  • British National Formulary; 67th Edition (March 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Document ID:
3832 (v24)
Last Checked:
25/09/2014
Next Review:
24/09/2017
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