Psyllium Seed for Reflux and Heartburn

psyllium seed reflux gerd byron herbalist naturopath naturopathic treatment for heartburn

Heartburn, reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD/GORD) is common. Lately I have been seeing a connection between my patients with poor gut health, particularly constipation, and reflux and heartburn. Today we will be exploring a study that found psyllium seed to be a great reflux and heartburn remedy in people with constipation. 

Gastroesophageal Reflux  

Reflux is a common condition characterized by the reflux of stomach acid back into the oesophagus causing symptoms including heartburn, ulceration, dental erosion, altered sleep, and even lung related complications such as asthma and pneumonia. One serious outcome from ongoing reflux is possible development of esophageal cancer. Thankfully only 10% of GERD sufferers go on to develop Barret’s Oesophagus which is the precursor to cancer (1).

Image taken from: Evidence-based recommendations for GERD treatment  

As mentioned above gastroesophageal reflux disease is common. In North America it ranges from approximately 18-27% of the population and has risk factors including older age, obesity, smoking and a sedentary lifestyle (2).

Working in the Byron Herbalist clinic I have been finding it interesting to see an overlap between reflux and heartburn sufferers and IBS or methane SIBO patients. I wasn’t surprised to see this being explored in the literature with one review finding the mean incidence of both heartburn or GERD and IBS to be 36% (ranging from 8-71% depending on the study) (3).

What is more interesting to me is the connection between constipation, often with symptoms of SIBO such as bloating, excessive gas production and reflux. I see this frequently in my practice.

In the scientific literature we can see that GERD is associated with constipation in about 29% of cases (4).

This is why it is so important to address both things simultaneously. 

Psyllium Seeds for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

The study we are looking at today compared omeprazole, a common proton pump inhibitor medication, and psyllium seeds for two months in patients with constipation and gastroesophageal reflux disease. 

The goal of the psyllium seeds was to promote healthy bowel movements daily while the goal of  omeprazole was to lower stomach acid to prevent damage to the oesophagus when the patient experienced reflux. 

They found that from the 65 patients in the psyllium seed group 58 patients (that’s 89.2%) responded to the treatment. While in the omeprazole group 94% responded (not a statistically different). 

Here is where it gets really interesting. 

Of the patients that had good success with the pharmaceutical acid blocking medication 69.8% experienced a recurrence in their symptoms and the average day of recurrence was only 16 days. In the psyllium seed group only 24.2% of patients experienced a recurrence of their symptoms and the average day of recurrence was 69 days!

Using Psyllium Seed for GERD and Constipation

First it is important to take into account the people included in the study. Constipation was the key symptom here and when combined with a diagnosis of GERD, psyllium seeds appear to be very effective at treating the root cause for almost 90% of the patients.

Next week we will be exploring the use of psyllium seeds in maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis patients so stay tuned and remember, if you are seeking support with your digestive health issues, consider working with me at Byron Herbalist. I consult with patients Australia wide via video conferencing and ship out custom herbal formulas specific for your needs weekly.

References and Resources

  1. Evidence-based recommendations for GERD treatment
  2. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  3. Overlap of functional heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease with irritable bowel syndrome
  4. Comparing the Effect of Psyllium Seed on Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease With Oral Omeprazole in Patients With Functional Constipation

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  1. my wife of 51 years has a abscesses and a motion problem where stool is always loose she has a operation to recivive this but has not worked

  2. I am a copd patient for many years. Quit smoking in 2008.
    I had experienced to treating my COPD and put me on inhalers. I developed blisters in my tongue about 6 months ago and my throat start choking. First the doctor gave me climitrozole troache10 mg. Later on my gestrontologist strong suggested for an endoscopy. due to my throat pain, I decided to go for it and did it on Nov 22,2021. findings are: (have reviewed your recent upper endoscopy biopsy results. There was evidence of pre-cancerous changes in the lower esophagus (called Barrett’s esophagus), however there was no evidence of dysplasia. Some mild irritation was also seen in the lining of the stomach, but otherwise there was no evidence of H. Pylori bacterial infection, precancerous changes, or other worrisome findings. )
    She put me on PROPANTAZOLE(40mg) DELAYED release
    two times a day for two months and thereafter one doze
    1/2 hr.before break fast.The medicine has potential risk affecting the health. I heard psyllium is also good. My question is: can I take both the regimen at the same time.
    I am 80 years old now and firm believer in ayurvedic medicinederived from herbs.
    Hope to have a replyasap.

  3. Thank you for this article RE: Psyllium and GERD. I appreciate that you cited research on this topic as well. I have been on Omeprazole for 2 years , with 100% strict diet and lifestyle modification for the last 18 months, but I have not had relief from many symptoms.
    I am shocked after discovering your article, that none of my GI doctors have asked me about constipation. The Naturopath asks me (about bowel movements) prior to each session for scar tissue, and helped me make the connection!!
    I will keep you posted. G

  4. There is usually no instructions for use on packets of psyllium husks.
    Suggestions on the web vary hugely in the amount to take.
    I was very leery of using them…anything that relies on drawing water from the walls of the colon worries me.
    A naturopath adevised me to mix 1tsp of husks to 200mls of water and let it sit until it turns into a jelly like substance and take 40-60mls with each meal.
    The stuff is quite tasteless and easy to take and seems to be working well.
    I could suggest that an increase of husks to this protocol might well be needed for some people.
    This way takes out the possibility of the husks not being properly hydrated.

  5. I have acid reflux and I’m currently taking omeprazole which seems to be helping – particularly in reducing the constant cough I had. I don’t have constipation. I want to move onto something more natural once I finish my current treatment with omeprazole. Is psyllium helpful or is its main purpose to treat constipation – which I don’t have? Do you happen to know if something like kefir can be helpful?

  6. An interesting article as I have had heartburn for months. This week I brought psyllium seeds at the supermarket to add to my morning musli and two days later noticed I have no heartburn. So checked out on the internet is there a relationship between psyllium and decrease in heartburn and came across your article.

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