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Barley Malt Extract

Generic Name

barley malt extract


Trade Name



What is barley malt extract?

The malt in barley malt extract or Maltsupex comes from sprouted barley. It is then concentrated into a soluble fiber. As such it has similar properties to other soluble fibers such as psyllium (Metamucil), oats and the pectin in fruits. This means it acts to create stool bulk. Beneficial bacteria in the colon use this fiber for food. If you have a great deal of gas-forming bacteria it may increase bloating and intestinal gas. Finally, the malt mixture does contain calories.


What is it used for?

Barley malt extract is a bulking agent that promotes bowel regularity. This product usually produces a bowel movement in 12 to 72 hours. It can be used regularly, as opposed to harsh stimulant laxatives which should only be used occasionally. It is helpful in chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis, hiatus hernia and diabetes. Soluble fiber may even lower cholesterol 10% to 15% if enough is taken.


How do I take it?

Follow your physician’s instructions carefully. Take each dose with a full glass of water.

Preparation tips:

  • Powder. Add the dosage to milk, water or fruit juice and stir until dissolved. Mixing is easier if it is added to warm milk or water. It may be flavored with vanilla or cocoa.
  • Liquid. Mix the liquid dose with an ounce or two of warm water, then add milk, water or fruit juice. It may be flavored with vanilla or cocoa.

Store this medication at room temperature. Keep all medications away from children. Never share your medications with anyone else.


What do I do for a missed dose?

If you miss a dose of this medicine, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your regular schedule. Do not double up on this medication.


Are there interactions with food or beverages?

There are no known food or beverage interactions with barley malt extract. An increase in fluid intake, a diet rich in fiber or bran and regular exercise can improve bowel regularity.


Are there interactions with other drugs?

An interaction generally means that one drug may increase or decrease the effect of another drug. Also, the more medications a person takes, the more likely there will be a drug interaction. There are no known drug interactions with barley malt extract.


Is there a problem if I have another disorder or disease?

At times, a drug may have a different or enhanced effect when other diseases are present. At other times, the drug may worsen or effect another disease. Fiber should not be used if there is a suspicion of a chronic bowel obstruction unless discussed with the physician. It is also best to temporarily restrict fiber after abdominal surgery and when there is a flare-up of chronic bowel disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Barley malt extract contains carbohydrates, so patients with diabetes should consult their physician.


What about allergies?

People who have known allergies or asthma may be at an increased risk for a reaction from any new medication. The physician should always know a patient’s allergy history. Signs of an allergic reaction are skin rash, hives and itching. Of course, a person should not take barley malt extract if there has been a previous reaction to this or a similar drug.


What if I’m pregnant, considering pregnancy or breast-feeding?

Fiber is generally recommended during pregnancy when constipation can become a problem. Remember that fiber is not a laxative which is the term the FDA makes manufacturers use on the label. Barley malt extract is no different than oatmeal or fruits which are always part of a healthy diet. These are all healthy soluble fibers.


What are the effects on sexual function?

There are no known adverse effects of barley malt extract on sexual function.


Are there other precautions?

  • The major side effect of all the soluble fibers, including barley malt extract, is the development of intestinal gas or flatus. It is the beneficial bacteria in the colon that create intestinal gases from certain food sources such as soluble fiber. So you may be limited in how much barley malt extract you can tolerate by this side effect. Insoluble fiber, found in wheat bran and cereals, does not have this side effect.
  • Always take barley malt extract with plenty of fluids. Insufficient fluid may cause the fiber to swell and cause choking or even rupture of the esophagus. Do not use barley malt extract if you have difficulty swallowing.

Contact your physician if constipation persists for more than a week with regular use of a bulk laxative or if rectal bleeding occurs.


How long is it safe to take barley malt extract?

Barley malt extract can be used safely long-term.


How about side effects?

Adverse reactions can occur with any drug, even over-the-counter medications. Some of these are mild such as a stomach upset, which may be avoided by taking the medication with food. Minor reactions may go away on their own but if they persist, contact the physician. For major reactions, the patient should contact the physician immediately.

For barley malt extract, the following are the observed side effects:


  • nausea
  • mild abdominal cramps
  • bloating
  • diarrhea


  • severe abdominal pain
  • vomiting


A physician’s comment…

Everyone should get a healthy amount of soluble and insoluble fiber in their food each day. There are many beneficial effects of fiber. It promotes bowel regularity and probably reduces the chance of heart disease and certain cancers. Barley malt extract should be viewed as nothing more than part of the foods you eat to stay healthy each day. There is a great deal known about fiber. For those who have diverticulosis, constipation or a hiatus hernia, link to the High Fiber Diet in the diet section.