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Is Metamucil Safe? The Truth Behind This “Doctor Recommended” Product


I had a lot of thoughts on names for this post. Everyone around here nixed my first attempt so I went with number two. (Get it?). Yes, we're talking about everyone's grandfathers' morning ritual beverage to get those bowels moving: Metamucil. Here's what you really need know about this fluorescent orange colon unclogger touted as "#1 Doctor Recommended" fiber brand.

In short, is Metamucil safe?

I would just like to point out before I go on, that most fiber products, the really good ones that are free of sugar or aspartame or artificial colours, don't actually carry a brand name. Usually they're called things like "flax seeds" or "psyllium", but I'll get there.

Having just spent way more time than anyone probably should on the Metamucil website, I have learned two things:

  1. They have a section full of Metamucil drinks (see below) that are all dressed up like what you might find on a cocktail menu at an all-inclusive resort.
  2. All of their fiber supplement products can and should be replaced by one single ingredient product: psyllium. All of the other products (Immune Support, Energy Support, etc.) should probably go away completely as there are actually effective alternatives available that don't have the long list of "non-active" ingredients.

Metamucil Drinks

Today, we're focusing on the classic that is a staple in every senior citizens' medicine cabinet: Metamucil.

Constipation: The Backlog of a Nation

Up to 19% of the North American population (about 63 million people) are not pooping. So yes, we know constipation is a major issue. We also know the key contributing factors. They typically include (in no particular order):

  • Lack of fiber intake in the diet
  • Lack of water intake in the diet
  • Too much sugar in the diet
  • Too much fiber-free starchy carbohydrates
  • Gut microflora imbalance
  • Food allergies or sensitivity
  • Poor digestion
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Lack of exercise (helpful in stimulating motility in the colon)

Here's the thing with constipation - it is completely avoidable with proper diet and lifestyle changes.

Here's the other thing about constipation - sometimes, despite our best efforts, we are going to get bunged up.

Why Metamucil Is Not The Optimal Safe Option

There are a few different options when it comes to Metamucil fiber supplements. I assumed, at the very least, there would at least be a plain option I could recommend. At least that was what I assume "Metamucil Free" was going to be. I was wrong.

Metamucil Free

This one looked and sounded promising with the bold statement: "Metamucil-Free is free from artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, and gluten as well as milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat or soybeans." It turns out that's all healthwashing.

As I have often said, it's not really about what's not in a product. We need to pay attention to what is in there.

What's Metamucil Free not free of? Sugar. In fact, sugar is the first ingredient.

Sugar is the first ingredient in Metamucil Free

Metamucil Free

Beyond the simple fact that we know sugar is not health building in the body, sugar is also a key contributing factor to constipation.

Studies repeatedly show how diet-induced dysbiosis (imbalance in the gut microflora) contribute to constipation and/or diarrhea. Sugar is the band leader on this parade of dysbiosis. What we need to accept is that fiber supplements are not delicious. They aren't meant to be and don't need to be. So why is there more sugar than fiber in a single serving of a fiber supplement.

Metamucil Math: Part 1

  • Recommended serving of Metamucil Free for constipation: 1 rounded tsp (approximately 7 grams)
  • Amount of sugar per serving of Metamucil Free for constipation: 4 grams
  • How many teaspoons is 4 grams of sugar? 1.
  • How much of the suggested serving is actually fiber? Roughly the "rounded" bit.

There is twice the sugar than there is soluble fiber in 1 tsp of Metamucil Free.

If this math is confusing, it's likely meant to be. The fact is that grams is a measurement of weight, and sugar is heavier than fiber.

What Does This Mean? It means that with Metamucil Free, you're taking 1 teaspoon of sugar to help with constipation, which makes me wonder, in this case, if it's the Metamucil at all that is helping people poop, or the glass of water being consumed with it.

Metamucil Orange Smooth

This is the classic I remember my grandpa drinking. I was pleased to see that with this option, at the very least, psyllium is the first ingredient.  What follows is nothing to be proud of. The classic 'orange' option contains the following:

Psyllium husk, maltodextrin, citric acid, natural and artificial orange flavor, Aspartame, Yellow 6.

Let's break this down:

  • Maltodextrin: Most often it is used simple as a cheap filler in processed foods, basically to take up space in a package. In this case, it is adding bulk to a product that is intended to add bulk to our intestines and really, just having more psyllium would be helpful. Interestingly, maltodextrin can elicit spikes in blood sugar because it has a high glycemic index. Now, in this case, the psyllium fiber would likely offset this effect but curious all the same in a product that contains artificial sweeteners and designed to be a 'sugar-free' option for diabetics. Maltodextrin, however, can affect the gut microbiome, suppressing the activity of the good bacteria in the gut which in turn can contribute to further constipation issues.
  • Citric acid: Typically used as a preservative
  • Natural and artificial orange flavor: There isn't much difference between natural and artificial flavours. Both typically start out as a real food and through many lab experiments and processes end up as a concentrated flavour agent. These flavor agents have been shown to adversely effect our body's detoxification pathways and have been associated with an increased risk in brain tumour development.
  • Aspartame: Aspartame has been proven in studies repeatedly to have severe neurological degenerative effects, that increase with repeated exposure. Considered an excito-toxin, aspartame should be avoided. Here is a sweet round-up of 28 studies that associate Aspartame with a buffet of health conditions and concerns.
  • Yellow 6.: First of all, it's a fiber supplement. Do you we care what colour it is? Yellow 6, derived from petroleum, is known to cause allergic reaction, and contains benzidene, a known human and animal carcinogen that can impact behaviour in children. Studies have also shown an association between this food dye and gastroenteritis - not helpful when trying to work out some constipation.

What Does This Mean: Though you may be getting a dose of fiber to help with constipation, you're also getting a cocktail of a whole lot of other unnecessary chemicals that have been associated with increased risk of a whole lot of other conditions that are far more detrimental to our health than constipation.


Metamucil Bars Junk

I was going to stop after the analysis of the typical Metamucil products, but then these candy bars, I mean "fiber bars" also caught my attention.

Here is what Metamucil has to say about their bars:

A tasty way to help lower your cholesterol to promote heart health. Power your health from the inside with Meta Fibre Bar Cinnamon Oatmeal Raisin—the delicious and nutritious way to boost your daily fibre intake while you go about your busy day.

Made with 100% Naturally Sourced Psyllium Fibre, Meta's Fibre Bar:
- Helps lower cholesterol to promote heart health
- Promotes digestive health
- Helps satisfy hunger as a healthy snack

Up the fibre in your diet with Meta Fibre Bar­—
a small simple step toward a healthier lifestyle.

Ingredients In The Meta Health Bar Cinnamon Raisin

Rolled oats, corn syrup, crisp rice (rice flour, malt extract, salt), raisins, invert sugar, granola (rolled oats, sugar, canola oil, honey, molasses), corn syrup solids, psyllium husk, raisin paste, glycerin, white compound coating (sugar, palm kernel oil, corn syrup solids, whey protein isolate, titanium dioxide, soy lecithin, salt, natural and artificial flavors), sunflower oil, natural flavors, gum acacia, soy lecithin, salt, tocopherols.

Here is What I Say About Their Bars

This is actually a candy bar. Likely a bad tasting one.

The nutritional label lists a total of 30grams of carbohydrates.
It is broken down as:

Dietary Fiber: 4 grams
Soluble Fiber: 3 grams
Sugar: 12 grams

Metamucil Math: Part 2

When we add up the dietary fiber, soluble fiber and sugar, we get 19 grams.

Where is the extra 11 grams that make up the total carbs? Well nutrition labels typically won't list the grams of starch. Those 11 grams are starch, which breaks down in the body into simple sugars. What we end up having is in fact 7 grams of fiber and 23 grams of sugar.

Extra fun: Go back up and look at the ingredient list for this bar. How many forms of sugar can you count? (Answer at bottom of post)

Given that psyllium is largely soluble fiber, and that it is really the only active ingredient in these bars, you might be interested to know:

  • 3 Tbsp of flaxseeds contains approximately 3 grams of soluble fiber
  • 1/2 cup beans or chickpeas contains 2 grams of soluble fiber
  • 2/3 cup of cooked oatmeal contains 3 grams of soluble fiber
  • An orange has 2 grams of soluble fiber
  • 1 cup of cooked asparagus has 3.4 grams of soluble fiber
  • 1 medium avocado has 3.4 grams of soluble fiber

What Does This Mean? If you eat a well rounded plant-rich diet (hello UnDiet living!), you are going to be getting way more fiber than what's in this bar.

Psyllium: Because Sometimes You Do Just Need More Fiber


Psyllium is the active ingredient in all Metamucil products. The name, in fact, comes from the "mucilaginous" property of psyllium, the slimy soluble fiber effect you'll also find in soaked flaxseeds, chia seeds, aloe, slippery elm and Sea moss.

The key to resolving constipation through fiber intake is taking in the actual fiber. And it works.

Psyllium is one of the most health supportive and powerful fibre supplements. It is like the great grand-daddy of the fibre world. Yes, it can be gag-inducingly awful to get down, but it is worth it.

Benefits of Psyllium Fibre

  • Laxative Effect: Increasing colonic bulk stimulates propulsion (meaning evacuation). Psyllium husk provides the bulk that gives your colon something to grip on to and strengthen against - like a resistance band. It increases stool weight, while toning the smooth muscle that is the colon and promotes laxation by increasing the moisture content of our poop.
  • Anti-Carcinogenic Effect: The structure of psyllium fibre is like a magnet to toxic waste in the digestive system; it grabs on for dear life and removes it from our bodies. In short, it helps remove waste efficiently.
  • Intestinal Health: The colon of the human gastrointestinal tract contains a large population of resident bacteria. In fact, 55% of the solids in poo is microbial biomass. Psyllium is awesome at maintaining the bacterial balance in our colon, which then strengthens immune function.
  • The Great Sponge: Psyllium can absorb a huge mass of water and other stuff. It has the ability to absorb excess bile, cholesterol and hormones like estrogen from the colon. If these aren't removed efficiently, they get reabsorbed but this doesn't mean the body stops producing them. The body will still produce cholesterol and so cholesterol levels go up. The body will still produce estrogen and so estrogen levels go up. And do we all know what high estrogen levels mean? Weepy tantrums during PMS and greater breast cancer risk to name two.

How To Take Psyllium

Capsule Form

The easiest option is in capsule form. This is the least-gag inducing way to get it down, but know that you will be taking a lot of pills and it is more expensive this way.

Powder Form

Start with 1 tsp stirred into eight ounces of water. You may wish to slowly work your way up until your poop is adequately bulking. Always ensure you increase water intake accordingly.

I want to wear a badge of honour that proudly states "I down 3 Tbsp of psyllium in one go". As bad as it is to do at the time, I am always mighty proud that I went through with it when all goes according to plan in the morning.


  • Adequate water intake is important!
  • Best done on an empty stomach
  • Though psyllium is often used as a binding agent in gluten-free baking, when used in this way, you are not getting the constipation remedy effects.

And so, if you are suffering from constipation, your priority should be to determine the root cause and resolve that. And if you want to up your fiber to increase transit time, tonify the large intestine, rebalance gut microflora and make your mornings an easy and efficient elimination process, then by all means, please invite psyllium to the party. Just leave out all the extra garbage.

* Answer to Metamucil Bar sugar question: There are a total of 11 different types and forms of sugar.

46 Responses to “Is Metamucil Safe? The Truth Behind This “Doctor Recommended” Product”

  1. Bonnie Neilson said…
    You may want to give Konsyl or Hydrocil powder a try. Neither of them have sugar and both are crushed psyllium husks. My husband prefers Hydrocil because it has an additive that makes it smoother when mixed with liquids. It's gotten hard to find over the 40 yrs he has taken it, so he asks the pharmacist to order it for him, but he could just as easily get it on Amazon. Konsyl I get at Walmart. It's the plain old Original Formula and it has only psyllium hydrophilic in it's ingredients and mixes up much smoother than any of the generics I have tried. Metamucil has seemed to have become the trade name for fiber so I just wanted to mention some alternatives that are available.
  2. Rebekah said…
    Need advice. Everything works well with one cinnamon metamucil cracker pack per day. I tried to replace the cracker pack with 5g of plain psyllium husk fiber in water, and to my great dismay, it was not bulky and smooth, it was splatter. Any suggestions?
    • Meghan Telpner said…
      Hi Rebekah! My husband and I have several suggestions in this video:
  3. Sebastian said… March 25, 2020
    Im having digestion issues and my gastro Dr recommended fiber supplement so I've been using Metamucil and a pro-biotic. Seems like everything is the same or even worse. Extremely lose stool, do think it could be the daily metamucil? Im frustrated.......
    • Hi Sebastian - I understand your frustration. I'm unable to make recommendations to individuals in this forum - I'd advise you to check in with your health practitioner for advice that is specific to your health condition and health history. It's possible the Metamucil is the issue, but it could also be loads of other things too.
  4. Drew said… June 11, 2020
    Hi, I'm 33 and started taking Metamucil just to help with general gut health as it's hard to ALWAYS maintain a balanced diet with enough fiber. Before taking Metamucil I noticed my bowel movements were inconsistent, sometimes easy and clean and sometimes not - so I wanted to make this more consistent. After being on Metamucil for a few weeks I felt great. Regular, light, clean and easy every time. However, similarly to your notes above, I wondered if I could cut our all the extras that are in Metamucil (that you very helpfully explained above). I went out and got some Psyllium husk. I started taking the husk mixed with Metamucil and water - I took the normal amount I would take of Metamucil but made up of part Metamucil and part husk. I thought this would be a way to ease my body into taking the husk and also to use up the Metamucil I had left. After doing that for about a week I have noticed that my movements although still regular are not as clean as before, more sticky and I definitely don't feel as light. I'm wondering whether to persist with the husk? Is it just an adjustment period and I need to give it longer? I didn't get powdered husk, could that be it? Should I stop mixing the two and just try husk? Any advice?
    • Hi Drew! You could try the husk on its own - I always use the whole husk, not the powder. Keep in mind that good bowel movements are about more than just taking a single supplement - they are also affected by everything else we eat and drink, our physical activity, and stress levels. I also recommend working with a health care practitioner if you are having bowel issues so they can create a customized protocol for you.
  5. Carolyn said… June 24, 2020
    Since reading your post - I have tried to even drink 2 Tablespoons of Psyllium husk powder in water. Gulping as fast as I can, I simply cannot do it before it becomes so thick I choke or gag. I read that you have accomplished 3 Tablespoons BUT in another one of your posts, you said you use whole psyllium husks not the powder?? I have been afraid that the whole husks would tear up my system! Can you tell me how much water you use . . . ? I do not mind the taste, I just need to figure a way to swallow it!
  6. Kat said… January 12, 2021
    Psyllium husks only mixed with molasses is what I feed to my horse to rid sand in the gut as it forms a gel in the gut you cannot mix water with it. My vet recommends once a month as regular use makes the bowel lazy and it needs to work on its own without help. Does this apply to humans as well ? Regular use of Metamucil is not good but tv advertising advocates daily use this is wrong advice to sell a product that also has a lot of sugar which takes water from the gut causing constipation Eat More Veg and Fruit.
    • I am a proponent of getting to the root of constipation. As I mention in the post, there are diet and lifestyle changes people can implement to alleviate constipation - but even with best efforts sometimes it happens. Fibre doesn't make the bowels lazy - it's the opposite, it gives the intestinal tract bulk to work against and this helps to improve digestive 'muscles'. That's why fruits, vegetables, gluten-free grains, nuts, seeds, beans and other fibre-rich foods help improve digestive health and support regular bowel movements. As to whether psyllium should be taken daily depends on the person, as well as whether they are using it as a replacement for a bowel-supportive diet.

Before you post your comment, please note that I am unable to offer nutritional advice or recommendations via my blog.

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