psyllium

Summary

Medicinal laxative plant indicated in case of  chronic constipation . Psyllium seeds can be used in water (they swell in water).

names

Portuguese name: Psyllium, plantago, psyllium, psilium
Binomial name: Plantago afra L. or Plantago ovata
French name: psylli , plantain psyllium, herbe à la puce, ispaghule
English name: Black Psyllium, Flea Wort
German name: Flohsamen, Wegerich, Psyllium
Italian name: psillio

Family

Lamiaceae

Constituents

Mucilages, iridoids, fatty oils,  dietary fiber

parts used

seeds

Effects

Bulk-forming laxative (they act thanks to a mechanical action that increases the volume of the stool, the food bolus swells and comes out more easily). Action occurs after 12 hours to 3 days.

Indications

Constipation (occasional or chronic constipation) hemorrhoids , diarrhea  (thanks to a regulating effect on digestion),  irritable bowel syndrome ,  hypercholesterolemia , overweight and obesity (promotes satiety). It is also sometimes indicated against acute diarrhea as a symptomatic treatment (thanks to psyllium’s ability to bind water). In cases of ileostomy.
– Hypercholesterolemia (reduces the LDL level by about 5 to 10%), for this indication, consumption should be 7 to 10 g of psyllium (psyllium) per day1.

Note: do not forget to drink a lot of water during the psyllium-based treatment because this plant absorbs a lot of water. To ensure enough water for your organism, take more than usual.

Secundary effects

Allergic-type reactions (rare, but possible with symptoms such as bronchial spasm, rhinitis or dermatological reactions). Flatulence (especially at the beginning of therapy) and abdominal distention.
If psyllium (psyllium) is ingested with little water, it is possible to obstruct the esophagus or intestine.

Contraindications

Inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal system, intestinal obstruction, ulcers, diabetic people (the intake of psyllium (psyllium) must be controlled, as preparations based on psyllium contain sugar), difficulty in swallowing, sharp pains in the stomach or without clear explanation.

Interactions

Possible decreased absorption of certain minerals (magnesium, calcium) and possible decreased absorption of certain cardiac glycosides.
For this reason, and to reduce the risk of interactions, it is advisable to take your medications 1 to 2 hours before or after ingesting psyllium (psyllium) in order to ensure good absorption of the medication.

Use during pregnancy
Psyllium (psyllium) can be consumed during pregnancy, it is a laxative treatment of first choice for pregnant women. No specific problems have been found with the use of psyllium during pregnancy.

Preparations

– Seeds (teguments)

The grains are usually found in powder form and are rich in mucilage.

Ready-to-use preparations based on psyllium (psyllium) usually contain 0.5-0.6 g of psyllium (psyllium) seed coat husks per gram of powder. These preparations also include sucrose, glucose or other sugar and sorbitol-based molecules, as well as artificial sugars.

The European Medicines Agency recommends using a dose of 15 to 40 g of psyllium (psyllium) per day to improve intestinal transit2.

– flakes

Where does psyllium grow?

Psyllium originates from Asia (India, Pakistan, Iran) as well as from Southern Europe (for example, in Spain). Psyllium is currently cultivated, in addition to Asia and Europe, also in North America, especially in California.
India and Pakistan are the 2 main producers of psyllium from the Plantago ovata species . The United States is the main importer of this plant.
Psyllium grows in sunny regions and in well-drained soil.
Each plant can produce up to 15,000 psyllium kernels. Psyllium reaches between 5 and 20 cm in height and grows in dry soils. It is an annual or biennial plant (it can live 2 years).

Comments

– Very interesting plant to combat chronic constipation , as it is not irritating to the intestines (as is the case with senna or frangula). However, ask a specialist for guidance so that your treatment is appropriate, as it is important to know the contraindications, side effects and interactions of psyllium.

In the July 2020 special edition of the French journal Science & Vie, published on medicinal plants, which studied the effectiveness of 77 medicinal plants, psyllium (psyllium) was one of the few plants with proven effectiveness in improving intestinal transit. The European Medicines Agency considers the medical use of psyllium (psyllium) “well established”, a sign of effectiveness, according to the Science & Vie article.

– Psyllium grains are very rich in  dietary fiber . In 100 grams of psyllium grains, about 70 grams of fiber are concentrated.

– When grains absorb water, they can increase in volume by up to 10 times. Due to the fact that psyllium absorbs a lot of water, it is recommended to drink more water than usual.

– Blonde psyllium seeds (Plantago ovata) are recommended by the WHO (World Health Organization) to treat constipation and improve or restore bowel movement. Blond psyllium is more effective than black psyllium (Plantago afra).

– Psyllium is on the list of medicines offered by the Unified Health System (SUS) in Brazil. The list had 810 items (drugs, vaccines, herbal remedies) as of March 2012.

– Psyllium is a medicinal plant widely used, especially in North America and Europe, in the fight against constipation. This plant is often sold as a medicine without the need for a prescription.

Cholesterol
The reduction of cholesterol levels by psyllium (psyllium), allowing to combat hypercholesterolemia, as well as its positive action in improving intestinal transit, is also scientifically proven. That is, in any case, the opinion of the Swiss German-language reference book “100 wichtige Medikamente” on Infomed published in 2020 and the Science & Vie special edition on herbal medicine published in July 2020. Psyllium (psyllium) reduces the level of LDL in approximately 5 to 10%, for this indication the consumption should be 7 to 10g of psyllium per day3.

– A study published in June 2021 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology (DOI: 10.14309/ajg.0000000000001149 ) compared a daily intake of 12 g of psyllium, 100 g of prunes or 2 kiwis per day to combat chronic constipation. The study lasted 4 weeks and included 75 patients. All participants noted an improvement in chronic constipation through increased bowel movements, but those who consumed kiwifruit noticed fewer side effects and were more satisfied with the outcome than those who consumed psyllium or prunes. Participants who consumed psyllium complained of some side effects, such as feeling of incomplete evacuation, abdominal pain or bloating.

Jeanne Kenney
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I’m a stylist trainer, a content creator, and an entrepreneur passion. Virgo sign and Pisces ascendant, I move easily between my dreams, the crazy world I want, and my feet on the ground to carry out my projects.

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