Psyllium Husk Benefits Uses And Side Effects
Psyllium husk is a type of fibre that is made from the Plantago ovata plant. As the name suggests, psyllium husk comes from the husk of the plant’s seed. India is the largest producer of psyllium husk in the world. In India, it is mainly cultivated in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Gujarat accounts for nearly 35% of the total world production of psyllium husk.
The name “Psyllium” is used for the whole plant, along with the crust and the seed. Psyllium husk is also commonly known as isabgol. Traditional Iranian medicine has been making use of psyllium for ages.
Psyllium husk is known to possess multiple health benefits for both humans and animals. Because of the high fibre content, psyllium husk can help prevent constipation. It is also known to be beneficial for the heart and can help keep diabetes under control.
Psyllium husk can be consumed in a lot of ways. Although some people find the taste of pure psyllium husk unpleasant it is also baked in cookies, biscuits and other confectionaries. Psyllium husk does not have any sugar or flavour. So it is usually recommended to consume it with water or juice.
Some basics facts about Psyllium Husk
Botanical name: Plantago Ovata husk
Common name: Psyllium husk / Isabgol
Sanskrit name: Sat Isabgol.
Parts used: Psyllium is a form of fibre made from the husk of the psyllium plant’s seeds. The plant part is used as the husk.
Native region and geographical distribution: It is native to Asia, the Mediterranean region, and North Africa and commercially grown in India. In India, the crop is mainly cultivated in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.
- Psyllium husk nutrition facts
- Psyllium husk health benefits
- Psyllium husk side effects
Psyllium husk nutrition facts
Psyllium husk is primarily rich in fibre. But it also contains other essential nutrients that can be beneficial to the body. Psyllium husk is rich in minerals such as potassium, calcium and iron.
As per the USDA Nutrient Database, the table below shows the nutrient values of psyllium husk per 100 g.
Nutrients Value per 100 g
Energy 375 kcal
Protein 5 g
Fat 6.25 g
Carbohydrate 75 g
Fibre 10 g
Sugars 30 g
Iron 50 mg
Calcium 1.8 mg
Potassium 262 mg
Sodium 288 mg
Saturated 2.5 g
Psyllium husk health benefits
For constipation: Psyllium husk is one of the richest sources of fibres and is thus helpful in the management of constipation. Other than having laxative properties, it increases the concentration of water in the stools facilitating their easy removal.
For other digestive issues: Psyllium husk is also helpful in the management of diarrhoea, amoebic dysentery and ulcerative colitis by regulating bowel function.
For appetite control: Being rich in fibres, psyllium husk helps to control appetite and hunger by enhancing fullness and increasing the time taken for the emptying of the stomach following a meal.
For diabetes: A diet rich in fibres is good for diabetic control and supplementation with psyllium husk aided in the reduction of blood glucose levels in those affected with type 2 diabetes.
For high cholesterol: The intake of psyllium husk helps to lower total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein while increasing the levels of high-density lipoprotein, which is a good type of cholesterol. It also reduced the absorption of cholesterol by the body.
For hypertension: Being a rich source of dietary fibre, psyllium husk also helps lower blood pressure, as divulged by clinical studies reporting a decrease in blood pressure by 55 mm Hg.
- Psyllium husk for constipation
- Psyllium husk for diabetes
- Psyllium husk for appetite control
- Psyllium husk lowers cholesterol
- Psyllium husk for diarrhoea
- Psyllium husk for amoebic dysentery
- Psyllium husk to treat ulcerative colitis
- Psyllium husk for high blood pressure
Psyllium husk for constipation
Constipation is a condition wherein the bowel movements are either irregular or it becomes difficult to pass stools. This condition is often associated with stomach pain, bloating and loss of appetite. Several studies suggest that psyllium husk can be used to treat constipation. A clinical study with 170 subjects with chronic constipation revealed that consumption of psyllium husk increased the content of water in the stool and made bowel movement easier. An older study showed that psyllium husk can be used with fibrous compounds such as pectin and cellulose to improve its laxative potential., Both these fibres are commonly found in fruits such as berries and apples. Adding pectin or cellulose with psyllium husk can also help get rid of the blandness of psyllium husk. Another study indicated that the polysaccharides present in psyllium husk and its gel-forming abilities can help prevent constipation.
Psyllium husk for diabetes
Diabetes is an endocrine disorder in which our body is unable to metabolise glucose causing an accumulation of these sugars in the blood. Although it is not possible to completely cure diabetes, it can be managed by making simple changes to the diet. According to The American Diabetes Association, a diet rich in fibre is useful for to keeping diabetes under control.
A clinical study on 34 men with type 2 diabetes and high levels of cholesterol revealed that supplementation of psyllium husk for 2 weeks showed a significant reduction in blood glucose levels. This indicates that psyllium husk is safe for consumption in people with type 2 diabetes.
Psyllium husk for appetite control
Often we tend to feel hungry between meals. This is when we have the urge to snack on things that might not be healthy. In research done to evaluate the correlation between stomach emptying and appetite, it was seen that psyllium husk significantly increased the time taken for stomach emptying after a meal. Being rich in fibre, psyllium husk also increases the feeling of fullness, thereby reducing hunger pangs between meals.
Psyllium husk lowers cholesterol
High cholesterol in the blood could mean a higher risk of getting heart disease. People with high levels of cholesterol are more prone to heart attack and stroke. Studies reveal that psyllium husk could help reduce the level of cholesterol in the body. A study was done on 125 diabetic patients who were asked to consume psyllium husk thrice a day for six weeks. The results of the study indicated that there was a significant reduction in the total cholesterol level (TC), triglyceride level and bad cholesterol (LDL) level. There was also an increase in the level of good cholesterol (HDL).
A study conducted on 47 obese males aged between 15 – 16 years showed that consumption of fibre-rich psyllium husk led to an 8% decrease in the level of bad cholesterol (LDL).
Another clinical study on 20 subjects with high levels of cholesterol indicated that psyllium husk helps lower the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the blood by stimulating the synthesis of bile acid.
Psyllium husk for diarrhoea
Diarrhoea is a condition characterized by an abnormally frequent passage of watery stools. Research reveals that psyllium husk can help prevent diarrhoea. A clinical study done on 8 individuals indicated that psyllium husk can delay the emptying of the stomach by increasing the consistency of the meal and reducing the time taken for the food to reach the colon. This was particularly beneficial for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhoea.
Diarrhoea is one of the most common side effects of radiation therapy in cancer patients. Studies reveal that psyllium husk can help prevent the frequency and severity of diarrhoea in cancer patients after radiation.
Psyllium husk for amoebic dysentery
Amoebiasis or amoebic dysentery is caused by an intestinal parasite Entamoeba histolytica. Common symptoms of this condition include stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Traditionally, psyllium husk is used as a remedy for amoebic dysentery. Research suggested that certain active compounds present in psyllium husk have inhibitory effects against Entamoeba histolytica and E. diaper. The research further reported that crude extracts of psyllium are effective amoebicidals at a concentration of 1 to 10 mg per ml and thus can be used in the treatment of amoebic dysentery.
Psyllium husk to treat ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis is a condition that affects the colon or large intestine and it is usually characterized by inflammation and irritation. If this is left untreated, it may lead to colon cancer. Mesalamine is one of the drugs that are being used to treat ulcerative colitis.
In a clinical trial with 150 patients with ulcerative colitis, oral supplementation of psyllium husk is as effective as mesalamine in treating ulcerative colitis.
Psyllium husk for high blood pressure
Blood pressure is the force that the heart uses to pump blood through the body. High blood pressure usually does not have any immediate symptoms. But if this condition is left untreated, it could lead to heart disease and stroke. Research suggests that a diet low in protein and fibre could be associated with high blood pressure. Psyllium husk is a rich source of dietary fibre.
A clinical study was done on 36 hypertensives (high blood pressure) patients to access if consumption of psyllium husk can control high blood pressure. The results revealed that there was a reduction in the blood pressure by 5.9 mm Hg (5.9 millimetres of mercury). It was further added that the hypotensive (blood pressure reducing) effects of psyllium husk are not affected by gender, age or weight.
Psyllium husk side effects
On the whole, psyllium husk is associated with very few side effects.
Psyllium husk may cause allergy and respiratory disorder
Although uncommon, some allergic reactions such as rashes, itching and difficulty in breathing may occur upon consumption and inhalation of psyllium husk. Studies have shown that psyllium dust fumes may cause bronchial distress in some people.
Psyllium husk may cause bloating
Psyllium husk is very high in fibre and is therefore prescribed for constipation and other gastrointestinal disorders. However, excessive consumption of fibre may affect the passage of gas from the gastrointestinal tract to the rectum, leading to gas retention and bloating.
Psyllium husk may cause choking
It is highly recommended to take psyllium with a full glass of water and drink at least 6 to 8 full glasses of water throughout the day to avoid constipation. Swallowing psyllium powder or husk without water may result in choking. Psyllium husks are nowadays being added to cookies, crackers and similar products to prevent this.
Psyllium husk is a type of fibre that is obtained from the seeds of the Plantago ovata plant. Owing to its high fibre content, it is usually used to prevent constipation. But it is also rich in other minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium. Some of the health benefits of psyllium husk are – it prevents diarrhoea, it can help lower blood pressure, it can lower cholesterol levels and also keep diabetes under control. It is advised to consume psyllium husk with plenty of water to avoid choking. Since psyllium husk does not have any flavour or taste, people usually consume biscuits or cookies containing this dietary fibre.