Plantago psyllium & Plantago Ovata 

Synonyms: Dark psyllium, Flea seed, psyllion, Spanish or French psyllium
Order: Plantaginaceae

Description: This is an annual herb that grows in sandy regions of the Mediterranean basin,
India, Iran, Mediterranean region, North Africa, northwest Africa, Pakistan, southern Europe, western Asia including Southern Europe and North West Africa. The seeds are glossy dark brown to black, often with a reddish hue.

Psyllium is the common name used for several members of the plant genus Plantago whose seeds are used commercially for the production of mucilage. The genus Plantago contains over 200 species. P. ovata and P. psyllium are produced commercially in several European countries, the former Soviet Union, Pakistan, and India. Plantago seed known commercially as black, French or Spanish psyllium is obtained from P. psyllium and P. arenaria. Seed produced from P. ovata is known in trading circles as white or blonde psyllium, Indian Plantago or Isabgol. Isabgol, the common name in India for P. ovata, comes from the Persian words "isap" and "ghol" that mean horse ear, which is descriptive of the shape of the seed. India dominates the world market in the production and export of psyllium. Psyllium research and field trials in the U.S. have been conducted mainly in Arizona and also in Washington.

Psyllium is a soluble fiber used primarily as a gentle bulk laxative. It comes from a shrublike herb called plantain that grows worldwide. There are many species of plantain that can produce up to 15,000 tiny, mucilage-coated seeds per plant. The plantain herb that produces psyllium seed is not the same plant as edible plantains.

The seeds are odorless and have almost no taste. Psyllium makes stools softer, which helps relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, and other intestinal problems. Its ability to speed waste matter through the digestive system helps reduce the risk of colon cancer and other intestinal diseases by shortening the amount of time toxins stay in the body. Unlike wheat bran and some other fiber supplements, psyllium does not cause excessive gas and bloating.

Uses:
Psyllium Seed is an intenstinal cleanser. Excellent for removing old accumulated mucus and feces that may have become impacted in pockets of the colon. Acts as a bulky mucilaginous material to aid in elimination.

Psyllium powder readily absorbs water and forms a smooth bulky mass that moves through the intestinal tract.

Psyllium is produced mainly for its mucilage content, which is highest in P. ovata. Mucilage describes a group of clear, colorless, gelling agents derived from plants. The mucilage obtained from psyllium comes from the seed coat. Mucilage is obtained by mechanical milling/grinding of the outer layer of the seed. Mucilage yield amounts to approximately 25% or more (by weight) of the total seed yield. Plantago seed mucilage is often referred to as husk or psyllium husk. The milled seed mucilage is a white fibrous material that is hydrophilic (water-loving). Upon absorbing water the clear colorless mucilaginous gel that forms increases in volume by ten-fold or more. Psyllium is mainly used as a dietary fiber, which is not digested by action in the small intestine. The purely mechanical action of psyllium mucilage absorbs excess water while stimulating normal bowel elimination. Although its main use has been as a laxative, it is more appropriately termed a true dietary fiber.

Actions
Absorbs toxins from the bowels, accelerates the rate of bile acid degradation thereby blocking the accumulation of cholesterol in the liver, antidiarrheal, antihypercholesterolemic (lowers cholesterol and LDL levels), antihypertensive (alcoholic extract), bulk laxative , demulcent, diuretic (from germ oil not in husk), helps prevent hemorrhoids, increases the population of beneficial intestinal bacteria (acidophilus and bifidophilus) and eliminating undesirable and pathogenic bacterial population, laxative, lowers bowel transit time, maintenance of normal bowel function in fiber-deficient diets, obstructs absorption of bile acids in the small intestines thereby preventing their recirculation into the blood stream, softens the stool.

Deficiency or Need:
Here is a partial list of the health problems psyllium helps relieve.

Sources:
Standard preparations of psyllium are available in dry seed or husk form, to be mixed with water as needed. Psyllium is an ingredient in some commercially prepared laxatives such as Metamucil. Psyllium is added to some cereals to increase fiber content.

Dosage:
Add 1/2 to 2 tsp. of psyllium seed to 1 cup (8 oz.) of warm water. Mix well, then drink immediately before it becomes too thick to swallow comfortably. (Psyllium thickens rapidly when water is added to it.) If you're using a commercial product that contains psyllium, follow package directions.

If you're not accustomed to taking psyllium, start with a low dose, such as 1 tsp. in an 8-oz. glass of water once a day, then increase to 2 tsps. and two 8-oz. glasses of water per day, as needed.

Your health care provider may recommend higher doses of psyllium to treat certain conditions. For example, a recommended program for irritable bowel syndrome is to start with 1/2 or 1 tsp. of psyllium in one glass of water each day, then gradually increase by adding a little more psyllium every third or fourth day until you're taking a total of four doses, each consisting of 1 tsp. of psyllium to an 8-oz. glass of water, a day.

It is very important to make sure you drink plenty of water when you take psyllium or any fiber supplement because fiber soaks up water from your digestive system. If you don't take in extra water to make up for that effect, fiber supplements can cause blockage or constipation. Be sure to drink at least six to eight glasses of water each day.

Take psyllium first thing in the morning or before bedtime. As a weight-loss aid, take at least 30 minutes before meals.

Preparation and dosages
before meals or 30-60 minutes after a meal. Commission E: Black Psyllium Seeds: 10 g/day; Blonde Psyllium Seeds: 12-40 g/day. If diarrhea persists for more than 3-4 days consult a physician.
Liquid Extract: 1:1 in 25 % alcohol, dose 2-5 ml (3x/day)
Seeds: 5-10 g (3 g in children) taken after soaking several hours in warm water. Take with copious amounts of fluid.
Seeds: 2.5-10 g, 2-3x/day (take with at least 250 ml of liquid)
It is important to take the seeds with at least 200 ml water or fruit juice per 5 g of seeds.

Precautions
Don't take psyllium within an hour of the time you take other medications because it can interfere with how the drugs is absorbed and may make the medication less effective. Allow at least one hour between the time you take medicines or drugs and the time you take psyllium.

Always take psyllium with a full 8-oz. glass of water, and be sure to drink at least six to eight full glasses of water during the day.

Do not take guar, another fiber supplement that works the same way psyllium does, if you're taking psyllium. You can use one or the other, but don't use both at the same time.

Contraindications
Stenoses of the gastrointestinal tract, ileus, diabetes mellitus where insulin adjustment is difficult, abdominal pains, fecal impaction, esophageal stenosis.

Possible Interactions
Psyllium may lower lithium levels in the blood. This may alter the effectiveness of the lithium. Consult your health care provider before using psyllium with lithium. In general, taking psyllium with other medications may reduce or delay the absorption of these medications.

Drug Interactions
Persons with insulin-dependent diabetes may require less insulin. Consume psyllium one hour after consumption of other drugs. The enteral absorption of other drugs taken simultaneously may be affected. When taken simultaneously, bulk-forming laxatives may inhibit the absorption of other drugs (e.g. aspirin, cardiac glycosides, antibiotics, anticoagulants, etc.) and dietary nutrients (e.g. calcium, iron, zinc, sodium, potassium, etc.). May antagonize antidiarrheal drugs. Due to the antihypertensive (hypotensive) action of this herb the following interactions are possible: when taken with anesthetics an increased hypotensive effect; potentiation of antihypertensives; when taken with diuretics difficulty with diuresis and hypertension may result; antagonism of sympathomimetics.

Side Effects
(Possible adverse effects and/or overdose effects) Allergic reactions, occasional flatulence (tympanites), rare cases of hypersensitivity and anaphylaxis.

Warning
The seeds should not be ground or chewed, since they release a pigment that deposits in renal tubules. Diabetics requiring insulin may need to reduce the dose insulin. If diarrhea persists for more than 3-4 days, a doctor should be consulted. Do not exceed 8-10 days of treatment. Phytobezoars (food-ball that forms blocking the GI tract) may form if not taken with enough liquid. Due to the bulk-forming fibers and mucilage found in this material, ingesting it without adequate fluid may cause it to swell, blocking the esophagus, and cause choking. This material should be administered with at least 8 ounces of water or other fluid (taken without enough fluid may cause choking).

References:

http://www.nutritionfocus.com/nutrition_supplementation/herbs/psyllium_seeds.html
FalconBlanco home  |  health main index  |  supplement index