Psyllium seed husks, also known as ispaghula, isabgol, or psyllium, are portions of the seeds of the plant Plantago ovata, (genus Plantago), a native of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. They are hygroscopic, which allows them to expand and become mucilaginous.
Psyllium seed husk are indigestible and are a source of soluble dietary fiber. They are used to relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and diarrhea. They are also used as a regular dietary supplement to improve and maintain regular GI transit. The inert bulk of the husks helps provide a constant volume of solid material irrespective of other aspects of the diet or any disease condition of the gut. Some recent research has shown they may be effective in lowering cholesterol and controlling certain types of diabetes.
Other uses include gluten-free baking, where ground psyllium seed husks bind moisture and help make breads less crumbly.
The husks are used whole in their natural state, or dried and chopped or powdered for easier consumption. In either of these forms, one takes them by mixing them with water or another fluid.
They are also available in capsules. Over-the-counter laxatives and fiber supplements such as Metamucil, Colon Cleanse, Serutan, Fybogel, Bonvit, Effersyllium, and Konsyl have psyllium husks as their main ingredient.
The husks may also be combined with other ingredients. For example, Blackstrap molasses is sometimes used with psyllium seed husks for its high mineral and vitamin content, as well as being an excellent carrier. A typical dose is one to three teaspoons per glass of water. Psyllium seeds can be used for the same purpose at a lower cost. The standard dose is 3.5 g dissolved in 250 ml of water.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a tangible benefit of psyllium seed husk intake and a decreased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Psyllium’s soluble fiber thus has the potential to decrease the risk of CHD.
Possible adverse reactions include allergic reactions, especially among those having had regular exposure to psyllium dust. Gastrointestinal tract obstruction may occur, especially for those with prior bowel surgeries or anatomic abnormalities, or if taken with inadequate amounts of water.
Psyllium seed husk consumption has noteworthy negative and positive attributes. A properly trained person can address the potential side-effects between prescription medications and psyllium seed husk, and the potential interactions between herbs or supplements and psyllium seed husk.
The U.S. FDA has published that psyllium, among other water-soluble gums, have been linked to medical reports of esophageal obstruction (Esophageal food bolus obstruction), choking, and asphyxiation. To be specific, the FDA reports.
“Esophageal obstruction and asphyxiation due to orally-administered drug products containing water-soluble gums, hydrophilic gums, and hydrophilic mucilloids as active ingredients are significant health risks when these products are taken without adequate fluid or when they are used by individuals with esophageal narrowing or dysfunction, or with difficulty in swallowing.”
and “when marketed in a dry or incompletely hydrated form” are required to have the following warning labels:
Taking this product without adequate fluid may cause it to swell and block your throat or esophagus and may cause choking. Do not take this product if you have difficulty in swallowing. If you experience chest pain, vomiting, or difficulty in swallowing or breathing after taking this product, seek immediate medical attention;”
“Directions: (Select one of the following, as appropriate: “Take” or “Mix”) this product (child or adult dose) with at least 8 ounces (a full glass) of water or other fluid. Taking this product without enough liquid may cause choking. See choking warning.”
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