Psyllium: properties, benefits and uses

Properties, benefits and uses of PsylliumPSYLLIUM, benefits, uses and properties. Image: Shawn Hempel Shutterstock

Psyllium is a soluble fiber derived from the seeds of plantago ovata, a medicinal plant cultivated mainly in India, frequently used as a dietary supplement in the form of granules, capsules or powder. But it can also be an “ingredient” in baked goods.

What is psyllium?

It is a form of fiber made from the seed coats of the plantago ovata. It is sometimes called ispaghula.

It is best known as a laxative. However, research shows that taking psyllium is beneficial for many parts of our body, including the heart and pancreas.

psyllium

Benefits of psyllium.

digestive health

Psyllium can be used as a laxative as it increases stool size and thus helps relieve constipation.

Psyllium absorbs water in the gut and makes bowel movements easier, it can help promote regularity without increasing flatulence. It can be used on an ad hoc basis to relieve constipation, or it can be added to the diet to support regularity and overall digestive health.

People with irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease know bowel irregularities all too well. The results of studies on the effectiveness of psyllium in the treatment of these conditions remain contradictory.

Psyllium is a prebiotic, a substance necessary for the growth of healthy colonies of probiotics in the intestine.

A healthy colony of good bacteria in the digestive system is essential for healthy immune function. Your body is better able to fight infections, reduce inflammation, and maintain healthy tissues and cells.

In addition to maintaining regular bowel movements and controlling chronic disease, psyllium has the ability to soften stools as long as enough water is drunk. This can be useful for short-term conditions such as constipation. Used in this way, it can prevent complications of constipation, such as hemorrhoids and anal fissures.

Preliminary research shows that psyllium can help relieve painful symptoms associated with these conditions. Since there is no real scientific consensus, talk to your doctor to see if psyllium could help you.

Heart health.

Research has shown that taking soluble fiber can help people control their cholesterol levels. Proper cholesterol regulation is important for everyone.

A study shows that taking psyllium daily for at least six weeks is an effective way for overweight or obese people to lower their cholesterol with very few side effects.

If you’ve been told to watch your cholesterol, ask your doctor if adding psyllium to a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet might help.

Numerous studies have shown that fiber, taken as part of a healthy diet, can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Psyllium can affect your heart by lowering blood pressure, improving lipid levels, and strengthening your heart muscle.

Watch the weight.

Maintaining a healthy weight is a concern for many people, especially those with a chronic condition like diabetes. Besides being good for your heart and blood sugar, it can help you lose weight.

Because psyllium absorbs fluids in the body, it can help make you feel fuller. It can help you control the amount of food you eat. Talk to your doctor about taking psyllium if it has been suggested for you to lose weight.

Diabetes.

People with diabetes should watch their diet to maintain a healthy balance between insulin and blood sugar (glucose). Some research has suggested that fibers like psyllium may help people maintain healthy blood sugar balance.

How to take psyllium.

The exact dose of psyllium depends on the product used. Dosage requirements may also vary depending on what it is being taken for. Normally, you can take the product one to three times a day with a full glass of water.

Some research has shown that consuming 7.9 grams of psyllium per day (more or less 3.6 grams) along with probiotics is a safe and effective way to treat Crohn’s disease. However, other results show that soluble fiber such as psyllium can make symptoms worse in some people.

One study found that taking 5 grams of psyllium twice a day can help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar. Another study in people with type 2 diabetes found similar results, but emphasized that psyllium therapy must be tailored to each person.

Carefully follow all product instructions. Do not exceed the recommended dose unless instructed by your doctor.

What are the contraindications of psyllium?

As psyllium creates intestinal bulk and has laxative effects, this substance can have unwanted side effects. You may be especially prone to side effects if you are new to its use or if you take more than the recommended amount per day.

Some of the possible side effects are:

  • Abdominal pain and cramps.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Gases.
  • loose stools
  • More frequent bowel movements.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Stomach ache.

Call your doctor right away if you have any allergic-type reactions. Although rare, the risks can include:

  • Breathing difficulties.
  • itch
  • Rashes.
  • Swelling, especially around the face and throat.
  • vomiting.

How is psyllium taken?

Psyllium is most commonly consumed in powder or wafer form. It is also available in capsules, granules and as a liquid concentrate.

Follow package directions when taking any of these compounds.

Consult your doctor before starting any herbal treatment.

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