Psyllium is an herb from the shrub-like plant scientifically known as “Plantago ovata” or also “ispaghula”. It originated in India but is now commercially grown in many parts of the world and is in high-demand as an excellent source of dietary fiber. 1
Fiber is found in the seed husks and each psyllium plants produces approximately 15,000 tiny seeds that are coated in gel. The seed husks are one of the best natural laxatives known. Unlike stimulant laxatives that are chemically-produced and commercially available, the husks from psyllium seeds are gentle on the digestive system and are non-addictive. 1
Psyllium seed husks are readily available in health food stores and are a simple, economical way to boost fiber intake. Their forms include psyllium seed husk powder and liquid. Recommended doses of 50 grams per 1,000 calories are sufficient for most adults. 2,3
Common brand names for psyllium seed husks are Metamucil, Fiberall, Cillium, Maaloz Daily Fiber Therapy and Uni-Laxative. 3
Psyllium Seed Husks Health Uses and Health Benefits
Besides being an edible fiber source, psyllium seed husks benefits include being a prebiotic, meaning that they promote the growth of healthy bacteria that contribute to food digestion and production of solid, fecal waste. Once ingested, psyllium husks take on far in excess of their weight in water and expand the stool in the intestines. This added water content and bulk makes the stool easier to pass and far less stressful on the intestines. 1,2
Psyllium is a heavily sprayed crop in most areas where it’s grown. Contamination from chemicals like fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides are found in lower-quality psyllium seed husks, therefore it’s important to select only organic psyllium husks to be safe from incidental exposure of toxins. 2
Psyllium seed husks health benefits are considerable. Primarily, psyllium seed husks uses include acting as digestive aids. There is also scientific evidence they can aid in balancing cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Constipation - Relieving constipation by softening, enlarging, and assisting in passing the stool is the main health benefit from consuming psyllium seed husks.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome - IBS can be caused by a number of different conditions. When properly taken with adequate amounts of water, psyllium seed husks are non-irritable and allow food to pass smoothly.
- Ulcerative Colitis - Ulcerative colitis is an uncomfortable gastrointestinal disease which makes digesting food and passing waste difficult. Psyllium seed husks work to bind and soften the stool, relieving pain from IBS.
- Colon Cleansing - Psyllium seed husks are proven to enlarge and soften the stool making passage much smoother and easier. Stool blockage and the complications from it are lessened with high fiber intake like psyllium husks.
- Diabetes - Research indicates that psyllium husk seeds work to regulate blood sugar levels and are effective in treating diabetes.
- Triglycerides - Like blood sugar, psyllium husks are shown to regulate cholesterol. A high fiber diet works to balance triglycerides.
Psyllium Seed Husks Side Effects and Precautions
The key to preventing psyllium seed husks side effects is water. The husks work by taking on water and expanding. Insufficient amounts of water in the digestive system will keep the husks dry and abrasive which is counter-productive to smooth digestive operation. 1
While there are minimal psyllium seed husks side effects, over consumption of psyllium seed husks will give a bloated feeling and cause a loss of appetite as well as flatulence. 4