Herb Reference Guide

Psyllium

History

Plantago ovata is an annual herb native to Asia, the Mediterranean region, and North Africa and noted to be present in the United States in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Texas. Psyllium grows in sandy and silty soils. The seed from Plantago ovata is commonly referred to as blond psyllium. India dominates the world market in the production of psyllium husk powder. One of the most well known over the counter fiber products, Metamucil, contains psyllium and was introduced to the US market 80 years ago. The seed and husk have been used as a traditional medicine in India, Europe, China and the United States for multiple digestive purposes due to both the soluble and insoluble fiber content. The whole seed is more nutritious than the husk, although both contain nutrients.

Function

The most common use of Psyllium seed husks in the United States is for its soluble and insoluble fiber content. A fair amount of research exists on the cardiovascular benefits of fiber when used in conjunction with a modified diet and lifestyle.* Mucilage is the other important, but often overlooked constituent in Psyllium that adds to its digestive health benefits.* Mucilage is a slippery gel-like constituent that has emollient properties for mucous membranes.* Psyllium husk is hygroscopic (highly absorbent of moisture). It's important to consume extra water while using Psyllium husk to help avoid unpleasant side effects of gas, bloating and constipation.

Uses of Psyllium

Disclaimer

This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.

Active Constituents

Mucilage (30-40%), Insoluble Fiber, Soluble Fiber, Astringent Compounds, Bitter Principles, Fatty Acids

Parts Used

  • Seed Husk

Important precautions

Not for use during pregnancy. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult your doctor prior to use.

Additional Resources

Abraham, Z.D. and T. Mehta. 1988. Three-week psyllium husk supplementation: Effect on plasma cholesterol concentrations, fecal steroid excretion, and carbohydrate absorption in men. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 47(1):67-74.