Is Psyllium Husk Powder – Seeds Gluten Free?

Psyllium husk, powder and whole seeds, are gluten free. Due to the sudden popularity of its use as a replacement for xanthan and guar gums, I wanted to ensure that those with gluten intolerance are using products which are truly gluten free. (By the way, you can use some psyllium husk along with flax and chia seeds.) I had purchased some of Now Foods’ Psyllium Husk Powder about a year ago to experiment with the ingredients in Rudi’s gluten free bread. The use of psyllium husk is to prevent digestive blockage that some experience with gums. The whole psyllium husk seeds work better than the powder. It all depends upon what you want your final product to look like.

Image: Psyllium Husk Seeds

Meanwhile, my main concern was that if I were to use psyllium husk in a recipe I wouldn’t want to promote something that was not safe for those with gluten intolerance. So, I recently contacted NOW Foods asking,

“I am wondering if your psyllium husk powder is gluten free. If so, do you test for gluten cross contamination? If not, is your facility gluten free? Or are the manufacturing lines gluten free?”

On April 3, 2013 Now Foods replied,

“We are not a certified gluten free facility. We have tested our cleansing method’s effect on the gluten contamination risk and found no real issues. We do not test for gluten on [a] regular basis.

“Thank you.

“NOW Health Group”

To clarify their response for those of you unfamiliar with the terms above, it appears that they have tested their manufacturing lines (equipment) for gluten after cleaning it well. It does concern me, however, that they used the words “no real issues”. Perhaps it showed some gluten, but not over the 20 ppm, which is the allowable amount. They do manufacturer products that contains gluten, thus the purpose for cleaning the equipment.

I know of one person who uses whole psyllium husk (not the powder form) for bread baking and swears by it promoting regularity as she was having a problems with the gums. She uses Yerba Prima whole husk psyllium, and she has celiac disease (gluten intolerant, to say the least). She uses up to 3 tablespoons, or as needed, mixed with hot water, allows it to rest for 2 – 3 hours and it forms a thick gel. She adds this mixture to her bread dough, just as you would use flaxseed gel (hot water and ground flaxseed). I just emailed Yerba Prima to find out how their brand is manufactured and will update you here. [I never received a reply.] It can be purchased through Vitacost or via Amazon. By the way, on the label it reads “Colon Cleanser”. Not great sounding, but if it works, does not change the flavor of your bread at all, and you have no digestive issues, then it’s a good thing to use.

UPDATE: I have developed a gluten free yeast-based grain-free bread recipe using Psyllium Husk Powder as well as a Gluten Free Multigrain Bread Recipe.

If you use blonde psyllium husk powder, it will not make your bread change color to brown/golden.

One gum I’ve been wanting to experiment with, and have also had in my pantry for several months, is gum arabic. It is very easy to digest. I’m off to make my hubby some of his favorite gluten free oat bread and try it now. UPDATE: Gum arabic did not help the dough adhere at all. I used one tablespoon and then had to another one tablespoon of xanthan gum. The bread turned out a bit softer than usual, though, which was great.

UPDATE: You’ll find that to my usual bread recipe, I have added equal parts (3 tbsp.) psyllium husk and 3 tbsp. additional water to replace the normal 1 tablespoon xanthan gum.

UPDATE: Rather than adding a lot of water to a recipe when substituting psyllium husk powder in place of xanthan gum (3 times the amount of psyllium used), I see many recipes now online that use psyllium husk in an equal ratio to water, as a substitute for xanthan and guar gum. I have tried 3x’s successfully in a couple of recipes and in one, it was too much. I haven’t tried the 1 times yet, but I love that psyllium husk powder makes my bread recipe softer. Keep that in mind when using it.

UPDATE: In my Multigrain Bread Recipe, I used 2 parts water to 1 part psyllium husk powder.

Check out all of the Gluten Free Bread Recipes!

4 Replies to “Is Psyllium Husk Powder – Seeds Gluten Free?”

  1. To say psyllium husk powder is gluten free is a half truth. In it’s pure form, yes it is. However most if not all brands are processed in facilities and equipment that wheat, barley and rye are processed making the product dangerous to those with celiac disease. Products are often sold as gluten free with a not very noticeable or not visible at all disclaimer about exposure to gluten is doubletalk, not clear warning to celiacs and often cannot be returned. When you do not mention that half of the truth you are misleading a lot of vulnerable people and you should consider your recipes as problematic.

    1. Kathy,

      It’s ultimately your responsibility to contact a manufacturer to clarify its safety, as I did and shared in this article. However, I haven’t heard from anyone with celiac disease having a bad reaction to the above brand.


  2. Reader’s Question:

    “I cannot seem to find out exactly how much psyllium to use in baking gf foods. Please can you enlighten me in terms of …say 1 tbs in water per so much flour..if you get my meaning. All other sites seem to be a bit vague about so much to so much flour.

    Carla’s Answer:

    “It all depends upon what product you are using and what recipe you are making. I haven’t played around with it enough to provide you with exact substitutions for xanthan gum or guar gum. I have only used it in conjunction with xanthan gum to add fiber. When baking bread that usually calls for 1 cup of water, I have used 1 teaspoon xanthn gum in the dry ingredients and increased the water to 1 1/3 cups and added 3 1/2 tablespoons of psyllium husk “powder”. I haven’t used the whole psyllium husk, just the powder. I still need to experiment with it more. I used a total of 3 cups of flour and starch, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons of fava bean flour. You can probably make the same recipe omitting the gum altogether. I baked mine at 475 degrees Fahrenheit. I don’t have this recipe on this site, as of today, but when I play around it with more, I will publish it. It turned out well.

  3. I have had bad experiences with Now Brand Rice Flour. It is most definitely NOT gluten free. Many people in my Gluten Free Support group have had similar bad reactions to this brand.

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