Psyllium- Overview, History, Benefits, Precaution, Dosage

What is psyllium?

Psyllium is the form of soluble fibre that comes from the husk of seeds of the psyllium or plantago ovata plant. It is an annual plant in the family Plantaginaceae. This plant is native to Asia and India. India is the main centre of psyllium or psyllium husk. It is a very popular supplement around the world. Psyllium is a plant that has been used medicinally since ancient times. It has been used to treat constipation, obesity, anaemia, coughs and many more

When psyllium absorbs water, it swells dozens of times and becomes gelatinous, so it became a popular diet food because it is low in calories and makes you feel full. Additionally, it has been suggested that it treats constipation, hypercholesterolemia, and lifestyle-related diseases. Additionally, some products that contain psyllium-derived dietary fibre have been approved for labelling as food for specific health uses.

Psyllium, which is ordinarily sold in India, is powdered from psyllium husks and can be utilised as a substitute for wheat flour. Well, it is sold under a wide variety of brand names but is best known as Metamucil. 

  • Latin Name: Plantago ovata is the Latin name for psyllium.
  • Family Member: Psyllium belongs to the plantaginaceae family.
  • Common Name: Isabgol is the most common name for Psyllium or Psyllium husk, especially in India.

Nutritional Value Of Psyllium

100g of psyllium or psyllium husk provide the following nutrient to the body-

  • Calorie 10.3kcal
  • Protein 0.6g
  • Lipid 0.3g
  • Carbohydrates 89.3g
  • Sugar 1.3g
  • Dietary fibre 88g 

History Of Psyllium

Psyllium is native To India. It has been used for the last 5000 years in India as a part of Ayurveda. It is one of the traditional medicines belonging to Ayurveda. As psyllium is also known as Isabgol or Ispaghula, which belongs to Persian history. Ispaghula stands for "Isap'' and " Ghula". The word isap is a Persian word which means "ear of horse". It is named as “ear of horse” because of the psyllium seed's shape. The word "ghula" or "gol" means solution. It is difficult to say its first use or first evidence, but it belongs to the Ayurveda. According to Ayurveda, psyllium is known as Asvakarna, which is two Sanskrit words. Asva means horse and karna means ear.

According to Ayurveda, asvakarna is used for constipation.

Why is psyllium popular?

Recently, the word psyllium has been seen more and more on SNS and magazines, but why did psyllium become so popular?

Used in low-sugar dishes: Psyllium contains no sugar and is low in calories. Psyllium's thickness and swelling can also make you feel full, so it is becoming more and more common in low-sugar recipes for people who want to eat healthy and stick to diets. It is gaining popularity as a component of meals and desserts and is frequently introduced alongside low-sugar powder.

High in dietary fibre: Psyllium is high in both water-soluble and insoluble dietary fibre, making up about 90% of its content. Constipation can be alleviated with dietary fibre, and obesity and lifestyle-related diseases can be avoided. However, it is difficult to get enough dietary fibre from ordinary meals alone, and adding psyllium to it has become a hot topic because it can supplement dietary fibre well.

What are the nutritional benefits of psyllium husk?

Psyllium husk is a food rich in dietary fibre. There are two types of dietary fibre: soluble dietary fibre and insoluble dietary fibre. It is important to take these two types of dietary fibre in a well-balanced manner.

If anything, water-soluble dietary fibre tends to be deficient. Seaweed and sticky foods contain a lot of water-soluble dietary fibre, but people are moving away from Japanese food, and there are fewer opportunities to eat foods containing water-soluble dietary fibre. Psyllium husk is also a food ingredient that contains both "soluble dietary fibre" and "insoluble dietary fibre".

What does psyllium husk taste like?

Psyllium husks do not taste good. It has a peculiar smell. Also, since it has a strong stickiness, it cannot be said to be delicious unless it is cooked well. Rather than eating psyllium husk, we recommend using it as a secondary ingredient. It is recommended to use it with water, juice or smoothies.

Health Benefits Of Psyllium

Psyllium provides a lot of benefits to the body. Let’s discuss some of them-

Constipation relief effect: Psyllium, which has the property of swelling when it absorbs water and contains 90% dietary fibre, is expected to have the effect of increasing the bulk of the stool and relieving constipation. Additionally, dietary fibre aids in the growth of healthy bacteria. The intestinal environment becomes better as the number of good bacteria increases, making it more difficult for bad bacteria to thrive. Psyllium is very effective in constipation.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels: In patients with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia, psyllium has been shown to effectively lower cholesterol levels. Psyllium reduced total cholesterol by 3-14% and LDL cholesterol by 5-10% over seven weeks as per a study. The slime contained psyllium binds to bile acid, increasing cholesterol-derived bile salts and excreting them as stool after six months of use. hence, reduced cholesterol levels further. 

Diabetes Management: Psyllium is thought to lower fasting blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. In a study, people with type 2 diabetes were found to lower fasting blood sugar levels by taking 5 grams of psyllium before each meal for six weeks. This suggests that psyllium may be effective in treating type 2 diabetes. It has been suggested that, on the other hand, taking psyllium on its own could cause your blood sugar level to drop too much and interfere with your diabetes medication, so make sure to talk to your doctor first.

Satiety Effect: Psyllium husks are rich in dietary fibre. Fibre that can't be processed by the body enters the digestive tract. Psyllium husk's fibre is said to have a lot of water retention and expandability, which is said to make you feel full for a long period of time. Psyllium husk consumption was found to be associated with greater levels of satiety after one hour in a study that compared it to water consumption. 

Provide Prebiotics: The human digestive system contains more than 100 trillion gastrointestinal microscopic organisms. In the intestinal bacteria, there are good bacteria, bad bacteria, and opportunistic bacteria that keep the intestinal environment in perfect balance. It is believed that a healthy person has an intestinal environment with good bacteria: harmful bacteria: opportunistic bacteria in about 2:1:7 ratio. Opportunistic bacteria are ambiguous bacteria, and they are bacteria that are on the side of the dominant of good bacteria and bad bacteria. In other words, if you work to increase good bacteria, opportunistic bacteria can also be on your side. Psyllium husks are helpful in this regard. Psyllium husk's fibre, known as prebiotics, aids in health maintenance by providing food for good bacteria. Due to its high viscosity, water retention, and expandability, psyllium husk has also been reported to support a healthy lifestyle without accumulating

For Health Maintenance: Many investigations have demonstrated that dietary fibre intake helps maintain good health and dietary fibre intake is recommended. Psyllium husks also contain a lot of fibre, but how do they affect your health? Continued consumption of psyllium husk has been reported to be useful as dietary support for health. Psyllium husk has also been shown to slow digestion when mixed with food, making it a low-GI food that is more beneficial than eating psyllium husk on its own. It can be used in a variety of dishes and has no flavour or smell. It works especially well with dough, so you can eat cookies, bread, and cakes with it as a snack and get your fibre fix.

Improve Haemorrhoids: An investigation discovered that requiring 20g of psyllium each day for quite some time in patients with haemorrhoids decreased draining and pain during defecations. It reduces constipation and makes the stool come out easily. It reduces the excretion pain and symptoms of Hemorrhoids.

Reduce diarrhoea: Because of its solid water assimilation properties, the strands in psyllium husk can increment stool thickness and slow its entry through the digestive organ. As a result, psyllium husk fibre can alleviate diarrhoea.

Lessen Hypertension: Psyllium supplementation may lower hypertension patients' blood pressure.

Obesity and weight loss: Consumption of psyllium fibre might assist with lessening cravings, subsequently supporting weight reduction and reducing obesity. As it has a satiety effect that keeps you fuller for a long time without any heavy eating. Many included psyllium husk in their weight loss journey.

Psyllium Precaution

Psyllium is a supplement and is used in many medicines. It is important to consume it in the right dose. Too much consumption of psyllium can cause stomach pain and diarrhoea. Psyllium consumption should not exceed 10-20 grams per day, depending on the product. Follow the maximum recommended intake on the package. Psyllium should also always be dissolved prior to consumption. This is due to the possibility of suffocation if consumed as it is. Ensure you take it with enough water to keep it from stagnation in your intestinal tract.

Additionally, if any of the following applies to you, do not take psyllium:

  • Dysphagia
  • Cancer of the colon
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Esophageal stricture
  • Abnormal intestinal narrowing.
  • Allergic To psyllium
  • Phenylketonuria, and metabolic disorder.

In addition, a child should consult a doctor before using it. It is also good for pregnant and lactating women to consult with a healthcare professional first.

Psyllium may also hinder the absorption of some medications. Before taking psyllium, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are currently taking any medications.

Examples of drugs that require caution when taken together

  • Lithium, an antidepressant
  • Diabetes medication
  • Antihypertensive medication
  • Warfarin, an anticoagulant
  • Digoxin, a cardiotonic medication
  • Ethinylestradiol, a sex hormone medication
  • Tegretol, a carbamazepine
  • Glumetza, a metformin
  • Zyprexa, a olanzapine
  • Iron supplements, etc.

Psyllium Dosage

One should always use a recommended dose of psyllium to avoid any side effects. It is also important to drink a lot of water or liquid with your psyllium dose.

The suggested dose of psyllium or psyllium husk is-

  • 10-20g of husk or one teaspoon of powder in a day.

If you are new to psyllium or didn't know about the psyllium reaction in the body, It is suggested to start using it with a low dose. If your body feels okay, then you can increase your dose. You can mix one teaspoon of hush powder in a glass of water and drink it for consumption.

Always make sure about the right dose. For better consultation, you can visit healthcare professionals too. An overdose of psyllium can cause-

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Cramping
  • Stomach pain, etc.

Psyllium Overdose Affect Nutrient Absorption

There are two types of dietary fibre: soluble and insoluble. Soluble dietary fibre which is present in psyllium or psyllium husk absorbs water and becomes gel-like, increasing the bulk of stools, so it is extremely effective in improving bowel movements. At the same time, soluble dietary fibre forms a membrane on the intestinal wall.

This is a double-edged sword, slowing down the absorption of sugars and cholesterol, but also inhibiting the absorption of other nutrients.

If you overuse psyllium husks or products containing psyllium because they are good for bowel movements or because they suppress cholesterol and blood sugar levels, you will not be able to absorb the nutrients you need, so always consider these effects. Hence, it seems better to avoid "eating too much" always.

Frequently Asked Questions

Psyllium is okay for children to use?

Psyllium is a food or dietary supplement, so there is no age limit. It can also be used by children after a recommendation from a healthcare professional. You can give it to your children who are suffering from constipation. 

What is the best time to take psyllium?

The best time to take psyllium husk depends on your intended use. If you want to lose weight, the best time to take it is just before meals. If you want to improve your cholesterol and blood sugar levels, use it 30 minutes before meals. In this way, depending on the purpose, use the timing of drinking properly, such as 30 minutes before meals or after meals.

Is it okay to use psyllium every day?

Psyllium is food. Since it is handled in the same way as commercially available food, there should be no problem if you drink it every day. However, be sure to follow the recommended dosage. At first, how about starting with around 3-4g a day to make up for the lack of dietary fibre? If there is no problem, it is better to increase the amount little by little.

What is psyllium good for?

Psyllium is great for stomach-related problems. It is highly used for constipation and diarrhoea. It also improves irritable bowel movement, provides relief in haemorrhoids, helps in weight management and many more. It forms gel-like substance with water and improve digestive problems

Is psyllium safe to take daily?

Yes, it is safe to use psyllium daily. It is a food item you use whenever you feel any problem. 

What is psyllium husk called in India?

Psyllium husk is called isabgol in india. It is a very common name.

Is isabgol the same as psyllium?

Yes, isabgol and psyllium are the same. Isabgol is a common hindi name for psyllium or psyllium husk

What is the best source of psyllium husk?

The best source of psyllium husk is high-grade psyllium seeds. There is a plant named Plantago ovata which gives psyllium seed and is later used for psyllium husk.

What is the best alternative to psyllium husk?

If you are allergic to psyllium husk or facing any problem with it, then you can try chia seeds and flax seeds.

How to take psyllium husk for constipation?

For constipation, you can consume 1 tablespoon of psyllium husk with a glass of water at night after a meal. It will help you to start a fresh morning. It is one of the best supplements or foods to get rid of constipation.

Can psyllium husk cause diarrhoea?

Diarrhoea can be a side effect of psyllium husk, if you overdose it, allergic to it.

Does psyllium husk expire?

Yes, psyllium husk can last for 3 years or sometimes more.n Every food item has a shelf life. 

How much is 5 grams of psyllium husk?

It is recommended to consume 5 grams of psyllium husk for constipation. 5 grams is equal to 1 teaspoon.

How to take psyllium husk for weight loss?

According to experts, 2 tablespoons of psyllium husk is good for weight loss in a day. But remember, you should start with half a tablespoon and gradually increase the dose.

Is psyllium husk insoluble fibre?

Psyllium husks contain soluble and insoluble fibre. The concentration of insoluble fibre is very low compared to soluble fibre.

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