Psyllium or psyllium fiber, also known as psyllium seed, is a product consisting of the seed coats of the seeds of the plant species Plantago ovata or Plantago afra of the genus Plantain. They can be used for therapeutic purposes as well as food. Psyllium softens the stool, which ensures that the bowel movement goes more smoothly. Psyllium is used for constipation, hemorrhoids and anal fissures.
What is psyllium?
Psyllium or psyllium seed refers to the seed coats of the seeds of the plant species Plantago ovata or Plantago afra. Flaxseed contains a high content of mucilage (10 – 30%) with sugars such as galactose (also known as aldohexosene) and rhamnose and fatty oil. The seed coats provide oils, proteins and iridoid glycosides (bitters). The mucilages determine the medicinal effect. Once in the gut, they bind water and swell. This increases the volume of the intestinal contents and stimulates digestion, which not only helps with constipation, but also with a feeling of fullness or bloatingor irritated bowels. The very fatty oil also lubricates the intestine and thus ensures that the contents of the intestine are transported quickly. Broken seed coats are more laxative than whole seeds, which often pass through the gastrointestinal tract intact.
More active intestinal muscles
There is about 15 percent indigestible mucus in psyllium. They contain a large amount of polysaccharides (polysaccharides). Larger amounts of water are bound by the polysaccharides, causing the psyllium to swell. Because of their indigestibility, the psyllium can penetrate into the large intestine. There, their volume increases significantly, resulting in an increased filling pressure in the intestine. As a result, the intestinal muscles become more active, which in turn leads to better defecation and the elimination of constipation. The stool becomes thinner and leaves the body earlier. The psyllium is also said to have an anti-carcinogenic effect.
Take with enough water
The psyllium can be taken orally with liquid. Psyllium husks form a colorless and odorless gel when they come into contact with water. Flea seed can absorb up to ten times its own dry weight in water. The recommended dose is between 4 and 20 grams per day. Milk is considered an unsuitable absorption liquid. This is because the psyllium cannot swell properly in the milk. Finished preparations of the psyllium in the form of capsules are also commercially available. Psyllium is available in pharmacies, drug stores, some supermarkets and herbal stores.
The finished products are generally considered to be easy to use. However, the powder form can cause allergic reactions in some people. The psyllium is also suitable for external use. They can be used to make a poultice that is helpful for boils , sprains , and twists.
Psyllium or psyllium seed is used for the following complaints:
- anus fissures
- elevated blood sugar levels
- elevated cholesterol levels
Health Benefits of Psyllium
Psyllium or psyllium seed has several health benefits.
Diarrhea and Constipation
Psyllium can be used for both constipation and diarrhea , especially in chronic inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis . The flea seed thickens and regulates the stool so that those affected have to go to the toilet less often and defecation is easier. In the case of chronic intestinal disorders, this means an increased quality of life in daily life.
In the case of inflammation in the gut, the mucous layer also acts as a shield for irritated and inflamed areas, relieving pain during bowel movements and acting as a lubricant.
Inflammation and cancer
Psyllium is a water-soluble fiber , which is broken down by the bacteria of the large intestinal flora. The bacteria form short-chain fatty acids, which in turn nourish the epithelial layer of the gut and thus promote defenses against carcinogens. The mucus binds particles that promote inflammation and traps free radicals. The psyllium indirectly reduces oxidative stress.
Psyllium has a laxative effect and thus helps to remove toxic substances in the intestines. This is especially important in chronic intestinal inflammation such as ulcerative colitis. They generally support the gut flora , which can regenerate through the psyllium.
Blood sugar and blood fats
The psyllium slime binds free fats in the gut and thus reduces the problematic cholesterol (LDL) from food, but not the health-friendly cholesterol (HDL).
Diabetics benefit from psyllium because this water-soluble fiber stabilizes blood sugar levels . In people with type 2 diabetes , psyllium may also help reduce weight and lower blood pressure .
When taken regularly, the psyllium can contribute to a lasting slight drop in blood sugar levels in diabetes. They also lower cholesterol and break down elevated triglycerides.
Other areas of application for psyllium include cystitis and gout .
When should you take psyllium?
The effects of psyllium are noticeable after two to three days. You should take psyllium half an hour to an hour before eating. You can take flaxseed in two ways:
- in the form of a capsule (1 – 3 x daily 1 to 2 capsules)
- dissolved in water
Side Effects and Interactions
Side effects are rare and not serious, but they do occur occasionally. If your body is not used to psyllium or high fiber foods , your body has to adapt and this can lead to bloating and stomach cramps . In that case, it helps to drink more water .
If you are allergic to psyllium, it irritates the lungs and windpipe. If this is the case, see a doctor immediately. However, allergy sufferers usually notice their problems when they inhale or touch semen particles.
Psyllium can affect how certain medications work, such as lithium, antibiotics, cholesterol medications, and diabetes medications. When in doubt, always consult your doctor or pharmacist and never use psyllium fiber during a meal. Always read the package insert first.