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Psyllium

Botanical names: Plantago ispaghula, Plantago ovata

Psyllium is native to Iran and India and is currently cultivated in these countries. The seeds are primarily used in traditional herbal medicine. Psyllium seed husks are mainly used to treat constipation.

Uses

Constipation
1 teaspoon (approximately 5 grams) in water, followed by a second glass of water, three times per day
Psyllium is a mild bulk-forming laxative that’s best suited for long-term use in people with constipation.

Diverticular Disease
7 grams daily in water, followed by a second glass of water
A preliminary trial found that psyllium, a good source of fiber, was effective in relieving the symptoms associated with diverticular disease.

High Cholesterol
5 to 10 grams per day with meals
Psyllium has been shown to be effective at lowering total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
3.25 grams taken three times per day
Some people with IBS may benefit from bulk-forming laxatives. Psyllium has helped regulate normal bowel activity and improved symptoms in some people with IBS.

Type 2 Diabetes
5.1 grams daily with meals
Supplementing with psyllium has been shown to be a safe and well-tolerated way to improve control of blood glucose and cholesterol.

Diarrhea
9 to 30 grams daily
Psyllium seed (an excellent source of fiber) makes stool more solid and can help resolve diarrhea symptoms.

Hemorrhoids
7 grams three times daily in water, followed by a second glass of water
Taking psyllium may help relieve constipation. Straining to have a bowel movement is in many cases a significant contributor to the development of hemorrhoids.

High Triglycerides
15 grams daily
Psyllium seeds and husks have shown a modest ability to lower blood triglyceride levels in some clinical trials.

Ulcerative Colitis
Discuss the amount to use with your doctor
Taking psyllium may help people with ulcerative colitis maintain remission.

Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)

In addition to its traditional and current use for constipation, psyllium is also used topically by herbalists to treat skin irritations, including poison ivy reactions and insect bites and stings. It has also been used in traditional herbal systems of China and India to treat diarrhea, hemorrhoids, bladder problems, and high blood pressure.

How to Use It

The suggested intake of psyllium husks to treat constipation is 1 teaspoon (approximately 5 grams) three times per day. Alternatively, some references suggest taking 2 to 6 teaspoons (10 to 30 grams) of the whole seeds per day—typically taken in three even amounts throughout the day. This is stirred into a large glass of water or juice and drunk immediately before it thickens. It is best to follow label instructions on over-the-counter psyllium products for constipation. It is important to maintain a high water intake when using psyllium.

Side Effects

Using psyllium in recommended amounts is generally safe. People with chronic constipation should seek the advice of a healthcare professional. Some people with irritable bowel syndrome feel worse when taking psyllium and may do better with soluble fiber, such as in fruit. People with an obstruction of the bowel or people with diabetes who have difficulty regulating their blood sugar should not use psyllium. Side effects, such as allergic skin and respiratory reactions to psyllium dust, have largely been limited to people working in factories manufacturing psyllium products.

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known interactions with this supplement.


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