What is Psyllium?

Perhaps you have heard about it, but still wonder what is psyllium? Psyllium is a plant product produced by a member of the Plantain family and has been used for centuries as an addition to flours and meals, as a food supplement, and as a textile stiffener.

The health benefits of psyllium are increasing, thanks to the dedication of scientists and researchers, while the list of benefits from eating psyllium daily are growing.

What is Psyllium the Plant?

The plantain family of plants includes common plantain found in most arable regions of the world, but the best psyllium comes from the Blond Plantain, Plantago ovata. This light colored plant resembles the yard and garden plant Plantago lancelota in that it has a center stalk that grows much taller than the ground leaves and forms a dense, tightly packed seed head. The husks of the psyllium seed are most often the part used in cooking and for health purposes, and can be purchased in bulk if desired.

ground psyllium

What is Psyllium for Colon Health

The health benefits from psyllium include constipation relief by improving gut functions and providing fiber. Psyllium is the primary ingredient in many fiber laxatives and can be confirmed by reading the ingredient labels. Stool production after eating a daily diet that includes psyllium are softer, easier to evacuate and help undigested food pass from the body faster. Retaining undigested foods and chronic constipation can lead to many medical conditions including hemorrhoids, hiatal hernia and may contribute to colon polyps. Research the many ways to improve digestive health including learning about what is psyllium and if this bland, plant seed husk may be something you wish to add to your diet.

Psyllium and Cholesterol

If you have high cholesterol you will also benefit from knowing what is psyllium, especially since adding psyllium to your diet may allow you to reduce your prescription medication intake. It is important to not adjust prescription medication without discussing it with the prescribing physician; however, after two months of eating psyllium daily high cholesterol levels may be much lower.

Breakfast cereals that contain psyllium seed and supplements of psyllium husk have shown, in a number side by side tests, that cholesterol levels may be lowered up to 10% or more. Psyllium will not interfere with multi-vitamins or additional calcium supplements and is safe to use at any stage of life including during and after menopause.

Psyllium and IBS

What is psyllium may also be helpful for those with IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, lessening the effects and potentially preventing ulcerating colitis. Additionally, diabetics may also find that their sugar levels are easier to balance.

Psyllium and High Blood Pressure

Psyllium can be added to almost any food and most studies indicate that a psyllium supplement works more efficiently when taken with food. When combined with soy foods psyllium may have a beneficial effect on high blood pressure however studies have not confirmed this to the satisfaction of the American Heart Association.

Psyllium Precautions

Psyllium can cause side effects, such as:

  • When taking other medications including Tegretol and Lithium, psyllium interferes with the absorption of these medications.

  • Diabetics may need to carefully watch their blood sugar levels as psyllium may interfere with the absorption of sugar from foods causing a drop in blood sugar levels.

If you are on these types of medications or have diabetes knowing psyllium side affects is important but taking a psyllium supplement one hour before or after medications and blood sugar level testing may prevent side effects.