Since the Middle Ages, healers across Asia and Europe have used this plant-based substance to ease digestive system upset and promote healthy bowel movements. Psyllium comes from the Plantago psyllium and Plantago ovata plants, commonly known as plantain. Plantain plants are native to India and the Middle East, but are cultivated in many regions around the world. Each plantain shrub can produce up to 15,000 red-brown or black seeds, each of which is coated with a gel-like husk.**
Psyllium husks contain high levels of water-soluble fiber. When the husks come in contact with water or other liquids, they swell, forming a gelatin-like mass. When consumed, psyllium absorbs liquid in the intestinal tract and forms bulky stool. This stimulates the intestines to contract and pass the stool quickly and easily. It is often added to laxatives, herbal preparations or even cereals to aid digestion, reduce constipation and ease diarrhea. The husks are also a popular component of colon cleansing programs and products.**
Though it has long been used to maintain digestive health, more recent scientific research has uncovered additional psyllium benefits for balanced cholesterol and cardiovascular health. The FDA allows the following heart health claim: “Soluble fiber from foods such as psyllium, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. A serving of psyllium supplies ____ grams of the 7 g or more per day of soluble fiber necessary per day to have this effect.” The husks’ ability to slow digestion may also hold potential for balancing blood sugar already within normal range.
The husks' swelling effect may complement weight loss efforts; when combined with liquid, psyllium expands to create a lingering feeling of fullness. This may help those attempting to lose weight to more easily resist hunger pangs and the urge to overeat.**
Psyllium husk supplements are available in several forms, including capsules, powders and as whole husks. All must be taken with at least 8 ounces of water. Psyllium husks are often combined with other forms of fiber in fiber complex supplements, or with other digestive wellness ingredients in colon cleanse supplements.**
Psyllium Directions for Use
While there is no standard psyllium dosage, the RDA for fiber is 38 g for men and 25 g for women. For greater comfort and gentler effects, you may start with a low psyllium dose and gradually increase intake and frequency of supplementation. For healthy weight management, take psyllium 30 minutes before meals. Consult your healthcare provider before adding this supplement to your wellness regimen.**