Psyllium was first introduced as a commercial product in the U.S. not in natural food stores, but by the Kellogg brothers, according to Victor Fulgoni, the former Director of Research at Kellogg’s.
John Harvey Kellogg found psyllium on a trip to Sicily and introduced it at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Beginning in the 1920’s, it was sold at the Sanitarium under the brand name “Psylla.”
After the Sanitarium folded, psyllium was forgotten by the Kellogg company until the late 1980’s. At that time, Kellogg scientists were seeing research that soluble fiber helped lower elevated cholesterol levels and support heart health. Kellogg’s had found great sales success with their All Bran cereal educational campaign telling people how fiber could reduce the risk of disease. They could see the possibility for similar success with a soluble fiber cereal.
So Kellogg’s scientists tested 100 different sources of soluble fiber and decided that psyllium husk was the best of all. Unfortunately, Kellogg’s psyllium based cereals did not meet sales expectations in the U.S., and they were discontinued.
In the natural foods market, psyllium husks were rediscovered in the 1970’s by Robert Gray, the original formulator of Yerba Prima products. He determined that they were the ideal fiber to assist in his new whole body Internal Cleansing Program that combined the benefits of herbs and fiber. When Yerba Prima introduced its first products in 1980, Psyllium Husks Powder was the fiber product sold along with the herbal cleansing formula called Kalenite®.
Psyllium husks are now sold as dietary supplements in natural food stores, as ingredients in many high-fiber food products, and in bulk laxative formulas like Metamucil® sold in supermarkets and pharmacies.