The Problem With Metamucil (Plus, Natural Remedies to Help Move Things Along)

Constipation is something that has haunted for me a long time; accompanied with straining and hemorrhoids. I wanted to share my constipation experiences with you (I’m throwing myself out there for you guys) and what I have found to make it easier for me to go to the bathroom.

I took Metamucil for a while a few years ago, which helped, but it’s not the best thing (ingredient wise) for you to take. I’ve explained what the problem with Metamucil is and what you can do, naturally, to helps things move along.

(I sincerely hope this helps!)

 

My Bowel Movement Issues

I’ve never had “normal” bowel movements. I still struggle today but things are getting better as I’m learning different techniques to help me eliminate. I would have a bowel movement one day and then it would be up to 5 or 6 days later that I would have another bowel movement. Not good.

I really started having issues after I gave birth to Andrew. Because I had an epidural for his birth, I couldn’t feel my pushing. It resulted in really bad hemorrhoids. I’m talking, really bad. Even the doctor said they were worse than normal. The healing from it was ridiculously painful.

About 2 months after I had Andrew, I got diarrhea really bad one night. It wasn’t until 5 days later that I had a bowel movement and when I did, it was immensely painful. I literally felt like broken glass was coming out of my body. I had bloody stools and when I wiped, there was blood on the toilet paper. After I had the excruciating bathroom experience, the pain did not go away. I could barely sit because of how much pain I was in.

I had a bowel movement a couple days after and I had the same thing — I felt like I was moving jagged glass pieces along with excruciating pain with bloody stools and bloody toilet paper. The worst part about it all was the fact that it wasn’t a quick release. I sat on the toilet for up to 20 minutes, struggling to move the poop. During that period of time, I’d sweat and literally cry because of how much pain I was in. It progressively got worse and worse to the point where I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sit and I was fearful of having a bowel move

ment because of the pain that came along with it. I tried everything; warm salt baths, laying on my stomach, you name it.  The pain would take about 12 hours to subside to where I could walk and sit normal.

Not being able to move while having to care for a newborn really sucked.

I finally went to a colon doctor and she did an exam on me. Turns out I had an anal fissure. An anal fissure is a small tear along the entrance of your colon. Mine was located on the top which felt like it was in the worst possible place, ever. She gave me some medicated cream and told me to take Metamucil to help with softening the bowel movements. I never looked at the ingredient label.

The Metamucil helped and eventually I healed from it. It took about a month or so to get back to normal and I continued to take Metamucil for quite some time and then eventually stopped taking it. At this point in my life, I had not had my “real food” epiphany  and was eating the Standard American Diet.

About a year later, when we moved to California, I was beginning to have bad bowel movements again. I would go through a pattern of not having a bowel movement and then having a complete blow out. I’d get cramps so bad that I would literally sweat, shake and feel light headed.. and on top of all of that, I would strain — a lot.

I suffered from hemorrhoids regularly until one day I got something called a thrombosed hemorrhoid. A thrombosed hemorrhoid is a hemorrhoid that has formed a blood clot and does not go away, causing extreme pain and discomfort. I was so upset to be going through yet another issue because of my bowel movements. I had it for about 7 days before I went to the doctor and they told me I had to get it removed via rubber band ligation.

I was totally over the butt issues! Not only was I miserable all the time because of my “issues” but I also felt a little embarassed and grossed out about myself when it came time to being intimate with my husband. There really is nothing sexy about having a hemorrhoid.

Around that point in my life, I had experienced my “real food” epiphany and had slowly been transitioning to an unprocessed diet.

Since that hemorrhoid issue about a year and a half ago, I have completely changed my diet to a more cleaner and less processed approach. Let me tell you what, it has helped TREMENDOUSLY! I haven’t had a hemorrhoid in quite some time and although I do not go every day like I would want to, I’m beginning to have more regular bowel movements and it’s been making me feel better. I also notice the amount of fluids I drink in a day really determines how my bowel movements go.

I’ve been doing this without the use of Metamucil which is a good thing because up until a few weeks ago, I actually looked at the ingredients. Sadly, I was not surprised with what I saw. It is definitely not something a person who is concerned with GMOs, artificial colorings/flavorings or minimizing chemicals/toxins in their diet would want to take.

 

What’s the Problem with Metamucil, Anyway?

Although this powdery substance helped me tremendously recover from my anal fissure, it has very questionable ingredients in it. Had I known about aspartame, maltodextrin and artificial colors and flavorings prior to having Metamucil suggested to me, I probably would not have taken it. Why? Well, first let’s take a look at the ingredients of their powdered orange flavor.

The ingredients read as follows:

The things that scream out to me are; 1. GMOs, 2. Natural & Artificial Flavors, 3. Yellow 6. Let’s look at why those three things are so alarming!

GMOs

First I want to point out that maltodextrin, citric acid and aspartame are all genetically modified. Genetically modified foods have not been adequately tested for safety and there are many studies (including this one about GMO’s and pigs) indicating the grave dangers and health problems possibly associated with GMO’s.

Unfortunately, unless you were well versed in what foods were genetically modified, including their derivatives (I’m actually working on my first e-book about GMOs, stay tuned!), the average Joe or Susan would not know what they were about to ingest included GM ingredients.

Despite over 90% of Americans that want GMO’s labeled and more than 50 countries around the world that have labeling laws in place, the United States government has not taken any action towards the labeling of genetically modified “foods.”

Not to mention that aspartame is included in these ingredients and can be considered a highly toxic artificial sweetener. Aspartame has been linked to:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Panic disorder
  • Lupus
  • Birth defects
  • Lyme disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Depression and other psychological disorders
  • Diabetes and diabetic complications
  • Lymphoma
  • Hypothyroidism (source)

 

Natural & Artificial Flavors

Next I want to point out the “Natural and Artificial Orange Flavor.” What does that mean any way and are they genetically modified as well?

According to section (a)(1) in the FDA data base,

“artificial flavor or artificial flavoring means any substance, the function of which is to impart flavor, which is not derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof.”

and (a)(3)

natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional. (source)

The main distinction between an artificial flavor and natural flavor is the source of where it was derived. Natural flavors come from anything that can be eaten (vegetable, milk, etc). Artificial flavors come from anything non-edible, like petroleum.

These words mean “mainly for flavor” and “is not synthetic, or synthetically derived/obtained/processed.”

However, the FDA treats GMO’s as no different that natural foods. They are basically considered the same as the original manipulated plant or animal – completely interchangeable. So what that means is natural and artificial flavorings may be genetically modified and we would never know!

 

Yellow 6

What about Yellow 6? Yellow 6 is an artificial food color that is made from petroleum and used in foods because it’s cheaper, makes the colors more pretty, and is more stable for packaging and processing. Artificial coloring has been linked to behavioral problems in children like ADHD and hyperactivity, triggering allergic reactions, cancer and contributing to the obesity problem.

Ironically, artificial colors are not allowed to use in products over seas. 

For example, Nutri-Grain bars made by Kelloggs’s in Britain are made with beet root powder, annatto and paprika extract to  naturally color the food product.

In the United States however, they are made with Red 40, Yellow 6 and Blue 1.

Completely unnecessary, don’t you think?

Only in America can you get the following artificial food colorings in your food. (It feels great to be an American, doesn’t it?)

  • Blue 1
  • Blue 2
  • Green 3
  • Red 3
  • Red 40
  • Yellow 5
  • Yellow 6
  • FD&C Lakes (can be a combination of colors)
  • Citrus Red 2 (used on things like oranges, frankfurters and sausages) — yuck!

To view the complete list of  artificial food colorings/dyes that are no longer authorized or have restricted use, click here.

 

As you can see, Metamucil is basically a genetically modified powdered laced with artificial yucky-ness that probably does more harm than good.

What do you do if you need get it moving but don’t want to use Metamucil besides incorporating an unprocessed, whole foods diet with adequate amount of fluid intake?

 

Mindful Breathing for Easy Bowel Movements

This one may sound kind of silly but I swear by it — especially recently. For some of us, making a bowel movement can be a little stressful because the thought of sitting too long and causing hemorrhoids is not something we want. Especially if we just got over a hemorrhoid.

I’ve started practicing mindful breathing to relax my whole body to make the movement easier. Stress equals tension. Both of those things do not do a body good. When I’m trying to get things moving, I take a deep breath in and with each breath out, I allow my body to completely release any tension and relax. Usually, I can feel the bowel start moving through as my body relaxes. I do this until I get the poo out.

 

Elevated Feet

Along with the mindful breathing, I elevate my feet on a stool. Based on research, the human body was designed to squat to eliminate. Squatting really helps things move because it allows the colon to be at a more natural position. Apparently, the body relies partly on a bend (called the anorectal angle) in the rectum (where feces is stored), and the anus (where the feces comes out) to help control and release bowel movements. (source)

However, when we are sitting or standing the anorectal angle becomes kinked. When the anorectal angle is kinked it puts

upward pressure on the rectum which basically keeps the bowel inside, making elimination difficult and most of the times incomplete. That’s when the straining comes in.

Have you ever been to the bathroom and felt like there was still more but you couldn’t “get it all out?”  I know I used to get this feeling (and still do) sometimes. This is a pure example of your colon being kinked.

According to the Squatty Potty website, they state:

Some researchers have compared the anatomical predicament created by sitting on a toilet to trying to defecate through a kinked garden hose. It just doesn’t work. (source)

If you refer to the photo, you’ll notice in the in diagram depicting the squatting position, the puborectalis muscle is no longer kinked. This allows the muscle to relax which causes the bend to straighten out, which as you can imagine, results in easier bowel movements.

Hallelujah, right?

But does it work? Yes! It does! I’ve used a little basket that held my son’s bathroom books and I noticed a big difference. However I don’t think it was at the appropriate height. Just like anything, it’s best to buy a product that is made specifically for a problem.

I have heard nothing but good things about the Squatty Potty stools so if you are wanting relief for your bowel movements, I would highly recommend the Squatty Potty. I like this bamboo one!

 

Other Great Articles on  Natural Ways to Help Your Bowel Movements

→ 5 Ways to Get Things Moving by Butter Nutrition

→ Rachel of Soundness Body & Mind noticed better bowel movements from taking epsom salt baths

 

Recommended reading: How I Cured a Painful Hemorrhoid with 2 Natural Remedies

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I only promote products that uphold to Naturally Loriel's values. More



About

Aside from being a wannabe backyard homesteader who wrangles chickens and free-range kids, Loriel is the owner/creator of the professional natural lifestyle blog Naturally Loriel, owner of the organic spice blend business Naturally Free, and freelance professional food photographer.


'The Problem With Metamucil (Plus, Natural Remedies to Help Move Things Along)' has 24 comments

  1. October 4, 2013 @ 4:22 pm Valerie Fieber

    Great info. my little one struggles too. Maybe the squatting will help! : )

    Reply

  2. January 2, 2014 @ 9:35 pm yoryi

    THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! It really worked out for me the part about the squatty potty!! You do not know how relief I am now after spending a day with this constipation. THANK YOU SO MUCH

    Reply

  3. March 23, 2014 @ 4:00 pm Jan

    Thanks for the info on Metamucil and elimination info…I have been taking the capsules to add more fiber to my diet and aid in softening stool for easier elimanation. I have also suffered from hemorroids over the past several years. I will check the ingredient list on capsules to compare to powder formula that you mentioned.
    As and aside, I think I liked the “old” logo better. I contained more “roots” which is part of your title. This new one appears lacking in something. Maybe roots with a small green seedling would be better instead of a flower. Just a thought.

    Reply

    • March 23, 2014 @ 4:43 pm Loriel

      Hi Jan. I’m glad I could help. I hope you find relief because hemorroids are not fun. The position I sit in really helps me.

      Thank you for your thoughts on the logo. I went with a flower because flowers make me feel good, which makes my soul happy. I thought if I did a seedling of some sort, people would expect that I am an eco or gardening blog. I appreciate your comment!

      Reply

  4. April 30, 2014 @ 2:35 am Sites.Google.Com

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    Reply

  5. May 30, 2014 @ 9:23 am John

    I enjoyed your article it verified my suspicion about Metamucil when I read the ingredients list at the store. It was very informative and I will not be purchasing that product.
    What I didn’t like and it touched a nerve in me was your sarcastic comment “it feels great to be an American, doesn’t it ?”
    We should lobby to ban the use of artificial coloring in America without putting our country down. Not only that, but to say America is the “Only” country that uses artificial food coloring is disingenuous.

    Reply

    • June 18, 2017 @ 8:41 am Sandrine Moser

      But it is true.
      I am french living in the US and i am a food freak because you have to be so careful in this country about what you eat. I read every label before i buy so yes i knew about metamucil and never bought it because of it.. Now when we travel to France, my teens are allowed to eat what ever they want from candies to cereals because i know they have no crap and industries have the health of the customers in mind.. paraban was banned more than 10 years ago in Europe and canada because it causes cancer..yet it is in johnson baby shampoo in the US..same for high fructose corn syrup or colorant.
      Now thank you for putting yourself out there. I have been suffering from hemo for 30 years but not from constipation but from diarhea , had two surgeries..had colo, endo, pill cam done..doctors can not figure it out..thinking to order that bamboo bench…cuter and more pratical than mine.
      The pain is unreal..

      Reply

      • September 6, 2017 @ 1:13 pm Nat

        I think on some level, this wild obsession with food additives borders on delusional paranoia, like there is some evil “American” agency trying to poison the world. Sure, there are some flaws with notable failures on the part of the FDA, but remember that all these so-called “toxins” (a.k.a. additives) have toxic effects that are only noticeable as tiny statistical anomalies when measured over decades in population-wide studies.

        What is unfortunate is that when dealing with an uneducated (and I don’t mean stupid or poorly read, just not trained in statistics or research science) demographic, it’s easy to take some statistic and whip up some hyperbolic frenzy about the evils of food science.

        Nothing in metamucil or any other product on the shelves in America is going to kill you or your kids. Nor is it likely to shorten their lifespan or make them less likely to make it to the Olympics.

        Sugar in high quantities is bad; HFCS may be worse… moderation is key for good health… and lots of water. Nothing on your food shelf is going to kill you OR make you live forever. Even if it takes a little more mental energy, it’s important to digest the nuances of every study… not the hyperbole of the nutrition science commentator.

        Reply

  6. October 2, 2014 @ 2:12 pm Sue

    Well, you certainly were straight forward and open about what can be an embarrassing issue. I really appreciate it. I’m a fellow
    sufferer…and you are the only person who has described what I have been trying to describe to drs. about the passing of chards of glass….S L O W L Y…with much pain and straining through my colon. When I feel it coming on…I take Dulcolax stool softener -which is probably as equally bad for me as the Metamucil…I’d be interested in any other info you have on the subject. Oh, BTW did you have the banding done??? because I did several yrs. ago…& it hurt like heck..not to mention it came undone/fell off and ended up with hemmoroid tag to boot which I can have surgically removed but haven’t done so.

    Reply

    • October 3, 2014 @ 10:30 am Loriel

      I know, it was definitely “putting myself all out there” but I know how I felt during that time and it sucked. I’m sorry you are going through that too. It really is no fun and it seems like once it happens, you’re stuck with it for life. I’ve noticed that by simply staying hydrated, the problem disappears. It’s when I forget to stay hydrated that it comes back.

      I did do the banding, which was extremely uncomfortable. I think it’s supposed to fall off, right? Mine did that same day and the thrombosed hemmoroid went away.

      I send you well wishes and lots of luck to be free of this pain!

      Reply

      • December 31, 2014 @ 7:59 pm Joseph

        The active ingredient in Metamucil is Psyllium fiber, which is actually very good for people suffering from constipation or other GI problems. The issue with Metamucil is that the company adds in artificial chemicals and coloring to flavor it, it tastes like a cheap orange drink. That being said Psyllium can be purchased without the chemicals, NOW foods has organic and unflavored Psyllium seed and powders, most of them can be found online or in certain health food stores.
        That being said you have to take it with a fair amount of fluid, at least 8 oz of water, I used unflavored Psyllium powder and add it to unflavored water and sometimes to protein shakes with milk and whey.
        You should make sure that you drink a good amount of water per day, also eat a lot of food with soluble fibers, fruits and vegetables are a must to keep regular. If changes to your diet do not help then you should see a doctor.

        Reply

  7. November 27, 2014 @ 1:27 pm Mike

    If you buy plain metamucil, it will does not have any of those harmful ingredients you mentioned. I made the switch after noticing them. I actually emailed the company and told him how bad I thought including those ingredients was. They sent me a coupon for a free bottle of plain metamucil! 🙂

    Reply

    • December 3, 2014 @ 10:37 am Loriel

      Thanks for letting us know Mike!

      Reply

    • September 6, 2017 @ 1:17 pm Nat

      “Harmful” according to what unassailable evidence? Give me even moderate evidence… I love that “cheap orange drink” first thing in the morning.

      Reply

  8. May 14, 2015 @ 10:23 pm Sue in San Diego

    Hi Loriel

    Just found you through Raising Generation Nourished. Not sure if this has been addressed, but there are numerous foods one can eat to stay regular. Prunes or prune juice, bran flakes, or a sweet potato a day all work very well, to name a few. Squatty potty is great, but not necessary when eating the right foods (preferably, organic). Glad you are doing better!

    Reply

  9. September 5, 2015 @ 10:08 pm Mary

    Hi Loriel,

    I found your article when I Googled “Is Metamucil bad for you?”. My Dad was having severe constipation. His doctor asked him, “Do your stools float?”. My Dad replied, “No.” The doctor said that if your stools don’t float, you’re not getting enough fiber. I never heard of that. Have you? He said that everyone should take Metamucil. I looked at the ingredients and didn’t like what I saw, other than the psyllium. I have some problems sometimes. I’ve had the pain where you can’t walk, the broken glass feeling, and the blood. Thankfully, it’s only occasionally. I’m going to get a Squatty Potty that you mentioned. Changing my diet would be a good idea, along with drinking more water. I try to drink 64oz a day. I like the suggestions you made. It’s often helpful to try a combination of things. I also saw on the Metamucil label that it makes you feel fuller so you’re not as hungry. I’m often hungry, even after I’ve just eaten, because of medication I take. So, I wanted to try Metamucil for that reason too. Most likely, when I change my diet and drink enough water, that will help the constipation and the hunger. Thank you for your article. I hope that you continue to feel better and I wish the best for you and your family.

    Sincerely,

    Mary

    Reply

  10. September 23, 2015 @ 12:43 pm Kimberly

    What a cute little bio, Loriel. I really appreciate your openness on the subject of BMs. My husband (a 3rd year medical student) wants me to start taking metamucil and I didn’t feel right about it. Thanks for the information so I can make a more informed decision.

    Reply

    • September 24, 2015 @ 10:55 am Loriel

      My hopes is to help people with this because it is NEVER fun.

      Reply

  11. February 3, 2016 @ 5:08 pm Ava

    I also googled for “is metamucil bad for you” even though what I’m taking is not the brand, just the psyllium husk. I bought Walgreens brand plain Walmucil (Psyllium Husk3.4 g, Silica, Sucrose) which I’m sure is still a GMO because almost all wheat grown in the US is GMO and unless you look for wheat products with the certified labels, what you’re eating almost definitely is. Anyhow my question is, is the psyllium husk in general bad for your body in any way? Not sure if you know the answer or not, so I will continue on my gooogle quest.

    Reply

  12. February 27, 2017 @ 1:04 pm Veggie Girl

    I have had an ongoing problem with constipation starting with the 1 st pregnancy 16 years ago. It always got worse during breastfeeding. And now still on my mind even though my youngest is 6. I found that having fresh vegetables in a blender guarantee my peace of mind for the next day. I blend carrots with fruit and eat with maple syrup or agave. Also uncooked cabbage can be really powerful natural cleaner for the gut.

    Reply

  13. December 2, 2017 @ 8:15 pm Robert wilkins

    In Canada most Indian stores carry plain p. husk for 1.99 a pound. You could also grind flax seed in you coffee grinder ( incredible nutritian). Almost every grain in north america has glyphosate blown on it as a drying agent before harvest. Almost nothing is safe. Always do you best to avoid Vitamin A added to all dairy products which accumulated in the. Liver and deadly and few understand this.

    Reply

  14. October 25, 2018 @ 12:27 pm fred

    thank you, I learned something from you. I also suffered, once a week if I’m lucky, with all the blood and pain. metamucil wouldnt work at all for me, it actually made it worse. after one extremely painful round of constipation I decided I had too find something that would make it bearable, by luck I bought a box of mini wheats, which I eat at night, for a snack, handfuls at a time. wow, I went from once a week to 3 times a week, most of the pain has subsided, still have a little bloating and a little blood on toilet paper, but I have made myself so much happier. all flavors work, while I know there is some artificial flavors a d a gmo or 2 I’ll gladly consume them too lesson my weekly terrors. mini wheats my life savior, thank you for your time a d help.

    Reply


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