Acacia fiber is made from organic fiber which comes from the gum of the acacia tree. As well as its properties as a fiber supplement it is also marketed as a prebiotic, which means that it increases good gut flora (the friendly bacteria in the gut). The manufacturers say that it also slows down colonic fermentation, which decreases gas and bloating. It contains no gluten, sugar, salt, corn, soy, or yeast.
Most IBS sufferers use the acacia fiber supplement called Tummy Fiber, which is produced by Heather Van Vorous, the author of the best-selling IBS books Eating for IBS and The First Year - IBS. Heather is an IBS sufferer herself and an expert on the condition.
Acacia fiber is recommended for all symptoms of IBS. It should be stirred into liquid or added to moist foods. The Tummy Fiber brand is not flavored and does not alter the taste or the consistency of food. You can also buy acacia tummy fiber in cans for easy storage, and then just replace the fiber with the bulk 16oz bags which are cheaper than the cans.
Acacia fiber side effects
The common side effects of acacia fiber are gas, bloating and loose stools. Less commonly it can cause allergic reactions.
REVIEWS OF ACACIA FIBER
Review by Patti
I have had IBS for about 45 years. It started as colic when I was a baby and kept going. It got very bad when I was in my early twenties when I attempted to quit smoking. Back then it was IBS-D, but when I turned 40 it completely changed to IBS-C. I went to my gastro doctor. I was worried since my mother has cancer of the colon at 50. They did a colonoscopy and found that now, on top of the IBS, I now had diverticulosis.
So a few years ago I quit smoking again, using Commit lozenges, and the IBS got much worse again. I was thinking it was the fact that I quit smoking again. I tried everything and nothing worked. It was very hard just to go to work every day. I tried Heather's Tummy Fiber with no results, and every single over the counter fiber and remedy available in our market...nothing. Not until I started looking at my diet more closely did things start to get better.
First I eliminated anything with high fructose corn syrup. That was a great improvement. Then when I stopped taking Commit lozenges that was an overnight difference. (I found out that one of the ingredients in it, mannitol, is very upsetting to the lining of the intestine). So now I decided to try Heather's Tummy Fiber again after eliminating everything that could be causing problems.
I must say it worked beautifully this time. I don't need much, just one and a half teaspoons a day. So my advice for all the people that say it's not working. is look at your diet more closely. It could possibly be something in your diet that is keeping it from working the way it should.
Review by Denise
I have had digestive problems with horrid gas, diarrhea or constipation since I was in my early teens, and I'm 56 now. Back then after seeing many doctors the one that helped me deal with it told me it was called spastic bowel and I should stay away from things like carbonated soda, fried foods and a host of other things. I didn't think he could be right being 15 and knowing it all, but he was right - when I ate most of the triggers or offenders I was sick and miserable, and when I didn't I felt much better.
Over the years I went back and forth and up and down...no other doctor really knew how to deal with it, they told me to drink seltzer water to bring up the gas, take Maalox or Mylanta and later Pepcid for the cramping. No-one ever talked about diet. From pregnancy (age 27) onward I was miserable and pretty much kept it to myself.
In 2003 after frustration from dieting and dieting and gaining, not losing, weight I got on a very strict low-carb diet which was no sweets or starches at all and a ton of heavy insoluble fiber, as much in a day as I could take. I lost 60 pounds in about seven months, but towards the end of those seven months I found my bowels were continually in an uproar, diarrhea for days and days then constipation. My doctor congratulated me on sticking to such a rough diet and taking the weight off. He told me the gut problems were stress from owning our own business, raising two teenagers etc and to just relax and take a Pepcid if I needed it.
I reached a point where the diarrhea was almost every couple of days. I'd no sooner seem to get it under control and it would start again, and the gas and cramping had me rolling on my bed in pain at times. Then I got the flu...three weeks later I still had diarrhea and was so weak from everything that went in me coming right out. The doctor told me to try this and that but nothing worked so he had me talk to the internal medicine specialist. They put me on the BRAT diet - soft toast, sugar-free applesauce, herbal teas...the cramping and gas became bearable but the diarrhea would not stop.
I did a lot of research and came up with an article on L-Glutamine powder which is a free-form amino acid that athletes take to help their intestines retain fluids during heavy training etc, and it noted it worked well for some IBS patients. So I got some from my local health food store and started on the recommended dose. My cramping eased, as did the gas, and slowly over weeks the diarrhea stopped! I had not been out of the house in over seven months never knowing when I had to make a mad dash to the bathroom.
I do a lot of research on things and prefer homeopathic ways of treatment before drugs etc. I finally came across Heather's page and reading it for hours upon hours it all made sense. So I ordered her starter kit of acacia powder, peppermint and fennel tea and the peppermint capsules. I read over her dietary guidelines and got myself on a strict diet from her book along with all the supplements.
That was over four years ago. If I watch what I eat, take my capsule before each meal, acacia fiber with my morning peppermint tea or use it as the creamer in a weak cup of coffee each day and once more during the day along with a few cups of peppermint tea (I make ice tea with it in the summer) I am fine. Go off the food wagon and I have cramping, bad bloating and gas, go off the food wagon too much and I'm in trouble, but the acacia fiber and tea usually bring me back in a few days.
Yes the acacia fiber is gummy from its source but I put it into a cool tea or coffee or juice and mix well with a fork. For the tea or coffee then I put it in the microwave for one minute and it comes out like coffee with a cream head, I stir it again and it's fine and dissolves well. If the acacia fiber gets damp then it can be a real problem to get it to mix properly. But I don't go anywhere without it and my peppermint tea.
My girls in their 20s both suffer from IBS mildly and both keep the acacia fiber and tea on hand for those times. Not everything works well for everyone but for me it was a lifesaver and has helped my daughters and many friends that I have given it to when they have colon bouts. I had my colonoscopy in 2005 and the doctor said that my colon was very healthy but was I aware that I suffer from diverticulosis. I gave him a look and he grinned and said 'Oh that's right, it's on your sheet, and the cleansing product triggered pain and cramping for you, I see that as we scan'.
He asked me what I used to control it and I told him. He asked for the website for Heather's info and products for other patients if they were interested, so I gave it to him. He told me he has found that diet and similar products are usually the best all-round treatment for people with true IBS. He won't get an argument out of me.
Review by Barbara
I found that this product did not at all measure up to its promise. I used it for over a month, and I just had incomplete loose movements. It was a gum-like substance which made it very sticky and difficult to dissolve. The Heather Van Vorous diet was unrealistic, complete vegetarian practically, with recipes that sounded great but I am not a great baker. I tried her recommendation for a restaurant (Japanese meal) and felt sick afterwards.
Review by Ernie
I have IBS-D with lots of pains, bloating and severe flatulence. This is the worst product I have ever tried for my IBS. I started out with only a quarter of a teaspoon morning and evening. During the next couple of days my pains, bloating and flatulence became worse than ever. I kept taking a quarter of a teaspoon twice a day for nine days...and for every day I kept taking it I was still getting worse. At day 10 I couldn't handle the freaking pains anymore and simply had to quit. About three days later I was starting to feel like before again. For me, this product was torture. It made all of my IBS symptoms worse. And I started out with very low doses.
Review by Cynthia
This product absolutely made me worse. I built up to the highest possible dose gradually, over the course of several weeks, and during that time and the subsequent month of taking it at the full dose, absolutely everything I ate made me sick with gas pains, bloating and cramps. The day I decided it was not working and I wasn't going to take it anymore was the first day I'd felt good in at least two months. My problems still are not solved, but I am tons better since stopping the acacia fiber. (To be fair, I have not found any fiber supplement that has really helped me at all, but this one made me feel sicker than any other I tried.)
Review by Kay
Since I live alone and don't cook a lot just for myself, I knew that adding fiber to my diet would be a challenge. (My stomach has never been able to tolerate much in the way of raw fruits and veggies.) I read about Heather's Tummy Fiber on Heather's site and decided to try it about two years ago.
I must say that it has helped me quite a bit. As a child, I was IBS-C but became primarily IBS-D in my late 20s, after some years of taking antibiotics for a skin problem. (Diarrhea is a common side effect, apparently, of antibiotics, but my doctor never mentioned it. I assumed my IBS issues were all in my head and due to anxiety.)
I now take half a teaspoon of the Tummy Fiber mixed in room temperature filtered water before breakfast and one full teaspoon the same way before dinner. I tried increasing the morning dose to one full teaspoon but that seemed to give me more gas during the day, which is uncomfortable, embarrassing and just a general nuisance, so I am staying with just half a teaspoon in the mornings.
I have been off the antibiotics for many years, but I still try to remember a probiotic acidophilus capsule every night with dinner. My GI doctor suggested that we be very conservative and that I should just take Imodium as needed, as well. (I usually don't need it every day.)
My general condition is generally stable now, with only an occasional mild bout of the diarrhea and very little in the way of cramps or pain. Certain foods are definitely triggers and I stay away from those.
I truly believe that the acacia fiber makes a big difference. I also gave some to my older brother, who is diabetic, to try, when I noticed that adding the fiber helped my blood sugar to stay more in the normal range. He has noticed the same effect and I will probably be ordering a canister and 1lb pouch for him when I need to get more for myself.
Review by Susan
I have had diarrhea-predominant alternating IBS for 20+ years. At first I did not have much bloating or cramping, but then I got completely miserable. I also got diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis, and I was unable to digest fats or proteins without enzyme pills (otherwise I would have uncontrollable oily stools), which were very hard to titrate when eating out in a restaurant and not knowing how much fat was in the meal.
When I found Heather's acacia fiber I finally got my life back, and did not stay in or plan my trips around known restrooms. I take one tablespoon twice a day, and I no longer have diarrhea, constipation, or cramping, just a little bloating sometimes. I can eat out and even have my favorite, Thai hot spicy foods without problems and with only the recommended amount of enzyme pills. I am sorry some people are not getting relief with the acacia fiber, but I am a believer. I am 'punished' in about 12 hours if I forget to take a dose.
Review by Debbie
I have suffered from IBS for years. After finally being diagnosed with IBS and diverticulosis, I tried Citrucel. Although it worked OK I was still having bouts of diarrhea and constipation. I felt I could feel better so I sent for Heather's Tummy Fiber. I am very pleased with the results. I take one level tablespoon twice a day. It has really regulated my system.
Review by Carolyn
I have been taking Acacia Tummy Fiber for about two weeks. I started with half teaspoon in the morning and half a teaspoon in the afternoon. I have increased to two teaspoons in the morning and two teaspoons in the afternoon. I start out with partially-formed bowel movements and they are followed by three loose movements. I am continuing to try the fiber and will increase to tablespoons soon if this doesn't improve. I do take the peppermint capsules and think that these definitely help.
Review by Bo
I have had IBS virtually all of my life. My main symptoms are bloating and large amounts of frequently horrifying, offensive-smelling gas (that's not just my opinion, believe me). I also have altered bowel habits, but it's difficult to describe them. Alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation is the textbook explanation, but that's not totally accurate. I also get tenesmus.
I tried two bags of Heather's Tummy Fiber (acacia powder) and did not have any improvement. I am sure it works for some, but not for me. The claims that it reduces gas certainly didn't hold true for me, and I noticed no improvement in terms of bowel habits. I may have been somewhat worse while taking it, but it's really hard to tell. I always have some symptoms, but there is a lot of fluctuation with them. Definitely not the miracle cure some seem to claim it is, but different things work for different people.
Review by Jackie
I am taking Heather Van Vorous acacia fiber and also peppermint capsules. I am only using half a teaspoon of the acacia at this time and I believe that I am doing better. I am having some improvement. I have had less gas and more effective elimination. It brings with it its own set of symptoms. It sort of firms you up. It's not 100%, but it is clearly better. I am wondering if people who have not had success went too high on the dose. I am going to stay conservative and work on diet as well. By keeping the dose down, it would be most cost-effective.
I believe that this is helping my symptoms and I am afraid to get too aggressive with the dosage. If I increase, it will be by like one teaspoon. I feel all of my symptoms have decreased which is something I can be grateful for. I wasn't counting on 100% so I am satisfied with this for now.
Review by Allison
I was diagnosed with IBS about eight years ago and I have been struggling with intense bouts of cramps, diarrhea, bloating, etc since then. I have read a lot on the internet, and stumbled upon Heather Van Vorous's site. I was very disappointed with the supplements I bought, including acacia fiber and peppermint oil capsules. Also, the suggestions for eating white bread and French bread all day to keep your intestines full may work for some people, but a lot of people with IBS are sensitive to wheat and all that bread is just going to make them feel worse.
Anyway, I tried the acacia fiber (mixed with water) and got an instant headache. Tried it again a couple days later and the same thing happened, so I ended up with a large wasted container of acacia fiber. With the peppermint oil capsules, which are supposed to dissolve somewhere far down in your colon where you don't feel it (?), this did not work for me. I tried them on several occasions, with and without food, and always a half hour or so later would have a VERY unpleasant burning sensation in my gut, which would last an hour or so.
I use ground psyllium seed powder now, mixed well with a glass of water, to add fiber to my diet. And I take probiotics every day, which I encourage anyone with IBS to try for a few weeks.
Review by Elaine
I have had IBS since 1982. I have tried Heather's Tummy Fiber now for about one month. First, I started with quarter of a teaspoon once a day for three or four days. Then, I began ramping up: half a teaspoon once a day for three or four days; three quarters of a teaspoon once a day; and I am now at one teaspoon once a day.
All I can say is that before I started this, I was actually feeling better since starting a bad bout of IBS in June. Now, I am absolutely miserable. I don't go out anywhere because I am too miserable with gas and bloating. And, it surely did not regulate me at all. And, yes, I am drinking plenty of water...60oz a day. I am very happy that this product works for some, but unfortunately, not for me. I do better with methylcellulose.
Review by Katrina
I have had IBS for about 25 years. I have never enjoyed eating what other people cook, which included restaurant food. I was, once again, having a very long and severe bout when my doctor ruled out gallbladder problems, and she suggested adding fiber to my diet. I started with Metamucil, but I didn't like the texture or taste. I then found Fiberchoice. This is a good product but I believe it caused some gas/bloating.
Luckily, about two weeks ago, while I was up all night with my IBS, I found Heather Van Vorous's site. I purchased the acacia fiber in the can and an extra bag. Wow, it is definitely a very fine powder. If you do not slowly mix it with liquids as they suggest, it will clump. The clumps taste similar to flour. If you do not mix it with enough liquid, you can taste the flour taste. If you follow the directions, it is great.
Today, I cooked enchiladas and added a couple of teaspoons just to give my husband and children a little extra fiber, too. No one will ever be able to tell. Heather also has a lot of recipes on her site. The diet she recommends is not only good for IBS sufferers, but for all people. It is the way we should all be eating.
Review by Robert
I tried Heather's tummy fiber; didn't do a thing for me. I tried a very small dose for a few days and gradually increased the dosage. It made the pain and cramping worse. So I just dumped the remainder down the sink.
Review by Kirsten
I've been experiencing IBS symptoms for about three and a half years, and I was officially diagnosed in the fall of last year. I've had a difficult time pinning down an effective treatment. I have had severe bloating and gas, which increases throughout the day and can wake me from sleep. I've had all the tests, I've excluded a variety of foods from my diet, I drink water and run daily. This to no or little avail! A lot of you know the distress and frustration of the general lack of effective treatment for IBS. Though I've had a few bouts of diarrhea, I suffer primarily from constipation.
Finally I seem to be on to something. I have tried fiber supplements since January 2006. They helped a little and then it seemed they didn't help at all. I was taking Fibercon tablets. Understanding the amount of fiber I was ingesting was my primary problem. I didn't know that in order to stabilize my colon I could be taking much more soluble fiber than I was (constipation sufferers seem to require a longer time commitment to see results - follow Heather Van Vorous's dosage suggestions on her website).
Because I didn't want to be taking so many pills a day - just too cumbersome - I ordered acacia fiber. I'm having good luck so far, regular bowel movements, much less turbulence, and a sense of power over my health that I haven't felt for some time. I mean I can actually sleep through the night! Take Heather's advice to increase your fiber intake gradually, however. I increased my dosage too fast and suffered the consequences of more constipation until I figured out I was overdoing it.
I also take Zoloft which has provided me with some relief, but until I took the fiber at the right dosage, I was still suffering a great deal from bloating and gas from cramps.
Review by Rob
I have been using Heather's Tummy Fiber for about six months now. I have IBS with diarrhea. I can truthfully say that acacia is the only fiber I have tried that has stabilized me. It works. I take a tablespoon three times a day.
Do you suffer from IBS? Have you tried acacia fiber? Please contact Sophie to send in your review.