How does it feel?
Psyllium husks are derived from the Plantago plant which is an annual that is grown in Southern Europe and North West Africa; it has become a very common plant that naturally grows in many locations across the globe. It is characterised by rosettes of large, oval leaves and large, upright dense spikes of flowers that can reach up to 15 cm in height. The flowers form small clusters around large stamens and are green-brown in colour. The plants seed is an ovoid-oblong shape up to 2-3mm long and are a pinkish brown in colour. The seed is covered by the seed ‘husk’, which is the part of the plant used in a medicinal and culinary fashion. The husk separates easily from the rest of the seed for cultivation and harvesting purposes.
All around the world the actions of traditional medicines were understood by their immediate sensory impacts. Click on each of psyllium’s key qualities below to learn more:
What can I use it for?
Psyllium husk is the fibrous material that protects the actual seed, by forming a layer of mucilage around it. The husk contains approximately 30% mucilage and is considered to be a source of pure fibre. It is these two qualities that are responsible for the primary medicinal actions of the plant. The mucilage is an excellent demulcent that soothes and protects damaged or inflamed mucous membranes. The fibrous content of the husk make it excellent for supporting the healthy functioning of the digestive tract, encouraging peristalsis and encouraging the removal of toxic congestion. The husk has a unique ability to absorb water and form a bulk mucilage which also makes this plant an excellent bulk laxative.
Into the heart of psyllium
Psyllium husks are primarily used within the digestive tract acting as a demulcent, bulk mucilage and pure natural source of soluble fibre. The seed husks absorb large volumes of water that make it a wonderful lubricant laxative. The mucilage retains its moisture during gastrointestinal transit, and can promote the passage of a soft stool even after transit times of up to 12 hours. Psyllium is a very useful demulcent bulk laxative, particularly for treating constipation from dryness. The mucilage also acts as a protective coat for the digestive mucosal membranes, providing relief from hot, irritation and allowing time for cellular regeneration and repair.
Increasing the soft fibre content within the diet will help to maintain regular bowel movements and prevent chronic congestion. Low levels of fibre in the diet are linked with constipation, dry stools, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. Psyllium husks are a natural source of pure soluble fibre that supports regular bowel movements and ensures effective elimination of toxicity.
GIT: As a bulking agent, psyllium helps to relieve both constipation and diarrhoea. The seeds are used for diarrhoea and dysentery and have been shown to be effective against different species of Entamoeba. It helps to absorb mucus and bacteria in inflammatory intestinal conditions and drag toxins out of the alimentary canal. It is also particularly beneficial for treating peptic and duodenal ulcers.
Lungs: The mucilage content of psyllium acts as a soothing demulcent to the lungs. It can ease the dryness of unproductive coughs and facilitate expectoration.
Urinary & Kidney: The sympathetic reflex of mucus production between the intestinal tract and lungs is continued into the urinary system where painful urination is eased, through soothing hot and inflamed membranes within the urinary tract.
Blood Fats & Sugars: Soluble fibre has been shown to reduce LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol and in controlling blood sugar levels in hyperglycaemia. Psyllium will bind to the LDL cholesterol and help to draw it out of the body.
Did you know?
The common name in India for this plant is derived from the Pesian words ‘isap’ and ‘ghol’ which mean ‘horse ear’. Even the Sanskrit for this plant, Ashvakarnam, means ‘horse’s ear’. This term relates to the shape of the small pink seed resembling an equine ear.
It may slow the absorption of other medication. It is best taken 1/2 hours after prescribed allopathic or other herbal medication. It is also wise to ensure cardiac glycoside, carbamazipine and lithium salts are taken as far away as possible from psyllium to ensure clinical doses are received. Diabetic medication may need to be reduced.
Traditional Ayurvedic characteristics are
- Rasa (taste) Sweet.
- Virya (action) Cool.
- Vipaka (post-digestive effect) Sweet.
- Guna (quality) Unctuous, heavy, slimey.
- Dosha effect VP-, K+.
- Dhatu (tissue) Plasma, muscle.
- Srotas (channels) Digestive, excretory, respiratory.
5–10g/day taken with plenty of liquid to prevent intestinal obstruction.