Many of you might not have heard about Psyllium husk or Isabgol. Even when I tell my friends about it, they ask me what is it? Psyllium husk or Isabgol has so many health benefits that I decided to write about it and share it with you people.
What is Psyllium husk or Isabgol?
Before talking about the health benefits of psyllium, let me first tell you what is psyllium husk or isabgol. The scientific name of Psyllium husk is Plantago ovate. It is native to the Asian countries like India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
But, many people have realized the health benefits of Isabgol and started using it. It is called of absorbing water and enlarging in size. It also becomes mucilaginous at the same time. It is a rich source of soluble dietary fiber called arabinoxylan. Arabinoxylan is a type of hemicelluloses. It also contains insoluble dietary fiber.
According to Mercola , soluble dietary fiber makes a person feel satiated and stomach full for a longer duration which helps in weight loss. Insoluble fiber helps in the fast movement of food through the intestine.
There are many proven health benefits of Psyllium husk or Isabgol for heart diseases, constipation, Diabetes, etc. Let’s look at some of them.
Health benefits of Psyllium husk/Isabgol:
1. Prevents hemorrhoids:
Psyllium husk or isabgol contains insoluble fiber which adds bulk to your stool. This enables easy passage of stool through the intestine. This prevents and treats constipation.
In people suffering from constipation, excess pressure is exerted over the veins near anus called hemorrhoidal veins. This leads to the dilation of the veins and this condition is called hemorrhoids or piles.
Hemorrhoids or piles can bleed and can cause embarrassing moments for you when outside. So, if you take Isabgol or Psyllium husk daily, it controls constipation and reduces the pressure on anal veins. This treats hemorrhoids very well. It also prevents piles in people who have constipation.
2. Relieves Irritable bowel syndrome:
IBS or irritable bowel syndrome is a condition in which the person suffering from it has both constipation and diarrhea alternatively. The person suffers from abdominal cramps or pain, bloating of stomach and also flatulence. He passes pellet like stools when having constipation.
The exact reason or cause of IBS is not known. But, it makes the person affected with it suffer a lot. Psyllium or isabgol adds bulk to the stool, facilitates easy passage of the stool through the gut and ameliorates the symptoms of constipation-predominant IBS or irritable bowel syndrome.
A study conducted on kids with IBS has proven that ispaghula reduces the number of episodes of abdominal pain in the kids who have taken it for 2 weeks in comparison to the group who have not taken this supplement.
3. Prevent Diverticulitis:
Diverticuli is the outpouchings that develop on the intestines. The majority of times, they are symptomless or asymptomatic. If you suffer from constipation, food accumulates in the intestines for longer durations.
This may lead to the formation of toxins and growth of various bacteria in the intestines. These bacteria inflame or cause swelling of the diverticula, which is called diverticulitis.
As Psyllium husk prevents constipation, it prevents the growth of harmful bacteria which lead to diverticulitis. As per some studies, Isabgol reduced the risk of development of diverticulitis by almost half.
4. Lowers Cholesterol levels:
Psyllium or isabgol helps in the secretion of bile from the liver due to its high fiber content. Bile juice contains cholesterol. So, it effectively lowers the cholesterol levels.
Psyllium seed husk lowers the levels of LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol too. But, it was not found to reduce the levels of triglycerides which are another type of fat. In order to reduce cholesterol, you will need to take 10 grams of psyllium daily.
After taking psyllium for 7 to 10 weeks, you will notice a reduction in your cholesterol levels. You can take Psyllium husk before breakfast or dinner by mixing psyllium seed powder or husk with water.
5. Cures constipation:
Psyllium husk is a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber. The fiber in isabgol is hygroscopic in nature, that is it has the ability to absorb water and enlarge in size. It also becomes mucilaginous by absorbing water.
Psyllium husk relieves constipation by adding bulk to the stools and facilitating easy passage of stools. The hygroscopic nature and mucilaginous properties of it also aid in its ability to control constipation.
How to take Ispaghula for constipation:
- Take two to three spoons of Isphaghula.
- Add it to a glass of warm water.
- Drink it before going to bed at night
- You can add some honey or lemon to it to make it palatable.
- Follow this remedy for 1 to 2 months to see noticeable benefits.
6. Alleviates diarrhea naturally:
It is also a good remedy for diarrhea. Now, you might ask me how ca it help cure symptoms of diarrhea and constipation at the same time which are diametrically opposite to each other.
But, the truth is Isphaghula helps in controlling diarrhea or constipation based on the ingredients added to it. You need to add Isabgol to buttermilk and drink it daily 2 or 3 times to get relief from diarrhea.
According to a study, psyllium husk was as effective as standard antidiarrheal drugs like loperamide in relieving diarrhea or fecal incontinence. But, ispaghula has fewer and rarer side effects than loperamide.
7. Lowers blood pressure:
High blood pressure or hypertension can lead to many complications like hemorrhagic stroke, heart failure, hypertensive retinopathy in the eyes. Some research studies show some benefit of using Psyllium in lowering high blood pressure levels.
According to a study, it helps in lowering both the systolic and diastolic blood pressure values in hypertensive and overweight or obese people.
How to take Psyllium for Hypertension:
- Take a cup or warm water or warm milk.
- Mix 2 spoons of Ispaghula to it.
- Also, add 1 to 2 spoons of soybean powder to it.
- Psyllium, when coupled with soybean powder, lowers blood pressure very well.
You need to consult your doctor or physician before taking Psyllium for hypertension.
8. Psyllium for Diabetes:
Isabgol contains soluble fiber that slows the absorption of food from the gut. It also slows the absorption of glucose from the intestines and thereby controls blood sugar levels efficiently.
This also helps in reducing the insulin resistance in people with Diabetes. Studies suggest that Isabgol is effective in lowering blood sugar levels when mixed with meals or when taken immediately after having your meals.
How to take Psyllium for Diabetes:
- Just take 2 to 3 spoons of Psyllium husk.
- Add it to a glass of warm water.
- Then drink it 10 to 15 minutes after you have your breakfast, lunch or dinner.
- Have it at least 2 times a day.
- Continue taking this regularly for some months good results.
- Psyllium husk can lower blood sugar levels.
- So, you may need to alter the dose of oral hypoglycemic drugs or diabetic medications you are taking.
- Get fasting blood glucose test done regularly to monitor your blood sugar levels.
- Also, consult your physician before taking Psyllium for diabetes control.
9. Good for heart health:
High levels of cholesterol and blood sugar tend to cause damage to the blood vessels. Then cholesterol and platelets accumulate in the damaged blood vessels and lead to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques.
These plaques can develop anywhere in the body. If they occur in the blood vessels supplying the heart, they obscure the blood supply to the heart and lead to angina, heart attack or myocardial infarction. They can even lead to heart failure.
If you take Ispaghula regularly, it lowers your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. This prevents the formation of atherosclerotic plaques and also heart diseases. Psyllium is really a boon for your heart health. A recent study has emphasized the role of isabgol in preventing coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular diseases.
10. Prevents Stroke:
Stroke is a condition which occurs when the blood supply to brain is reduced. This leads to various symptoms like paralysis of hands or legs, slurring of speech, weakness of limbs, facial paralysis, etc.
Ischemic Stroke, a type of stroke is also caused due to atherosclerotic plaques. So, ispaghula helps in preventing stroke by reducing the incidence of atherosclerotic plaques. You need to consume at least 5 to 6 grams of psyllium per day to benefit from its stroke prevention ability.
11. Help in weight loss:
Psyllium husk contains soluble fiber which slows down the absorption of food from the intestines. This makes you feel full or remains satiated for a long time. This prevents unnecessary food cravings and hunger pangs.
People generally gain weight as they eat high-calorie junk food due to food craving. As Isabgol cuts down food craving, you will not gain weight. It also helps in releasing a substance called acetate due to the action of intestinal microbes or bacteria on it. Acetate signals our brain to stop eating.
How to take Isabgol for weight loss:
- Take 2 spoons of Psyllium seed husk.
- Warm up a glass of water and add isabgol to it.
- Then add a spoon of lime juice, 1 spoon of honey to it.
- Also, add some grated ginger to it.
- Drink this half an hour before your lunch and dinner.
- Isabgol helps in keeping you full, while honey, lemon, and ginger enhance your metabolism enabling you to burn more calories.
- Low food intake coupled with high metabolic rate boost your weight loss.
- If you drink this juice for few months, you can lose weight very fast.
12. Good for skin:
Psyllium husk helps in getting rid of harmful bacteria and fungi in the body which can lead to various skin disorders like acne or pimples.
Drink warm water mixed with isabgol and honey daily before going to bed. This flushes out toxins from the body which also makes your skin glow. Honey also makes your skin moist, hydrated, soft and supple.
13. Good for Inflammatory bowel disease:
People with inflammatory bowel disease can benefit from taking Psyllium regularly. Inflammatory bowel disease includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Both of them affect your intestines and cause many symptoms like diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, severe abdominal pain, etc.
Psyllium husk acts as a good colon cleanser. It flushes out stools and all the toxins and harmful bacteria out of your body. This keeps our colon clean and alleviates the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease.
People with inflammatory bowel disease need to take 10 grams of Isabgol, twice daily. Take this before your lunch and dinner.
14. Prevents Nephrolithiasis and cholelithiasis:
Nephrolithiasis is the other name of kidney stones. Cholelithiasis is the other name of gallstones. Some studies suggest that Isabgol plays a vital role in preventing kidney stones and gallstones to some extent.
15. Prevents colon cancer:
Some research reports suggest that people who take ispaghula regularly can prevent colon cancer or carcinoma to some extent. Psyllium cleanses the colon and flushes out all the toxins in the colon.
Generally, people who eat junk foods and suffer from constipation are more prone to develop colon cancer. People who eat fiber rich diet containing fruits, vegetables nad green leafy vegetables suffer from colon cancer less often.
So, take psyllium regularly to lower your risk of developing colon cancer.
Other names of Psyllium:
Psyllium is known by many other names around the world. Some of the names are:
- Psyllium seed husk
- Indian Plantago
- Plantago ovate husk
- Sand plantain
- Flea seeds
- Semen Ispaghulae
- Balle de psyllium
- Blonde psyllium
- Che Qian Zi
- Englishman’s foot
- Fiber Alimentaire
- Plantago Decumbens
Some over the counter laxatives containing Psyllium:
The main action of psyllium is to alleviate constipation. So, it is the main ingredient of many over the counter or OTC laxatives. Some of them are:
- Colon cleanse
Side effects of Psyllium or Isabgol:
Psyllium has so many health benefits. But, sometimes it can cause some side effects. They are minor side effects, but still, we need to be aware of them.
1. Abdominal bloating:
Psyllium is a dietary fiber supplement. In some people whose body is not acclimatized to taking fiber diet regularly, bloating of stomach and flatulence can be the side effects.
2. Reduction of blood glucose:
Psyllium reduces the blood glucose levels. So, if you are suffering from Diabetes, you will need to reduce the dose of your oral hypoglycemic drugs or insulin.
3. Allergies and Anaphylaxis:
Some people might develop allergies to Isabgol. The symptoms in these people are same as people developing allergies in response to other allergens. Symptoms can range from minor to severe life threatening ones.
Minor symptoms of allergies can be a runny nose, sneezing, watery and red eyes, urticaria or skin rash. Some people might even develop swollen lips and eyes. Very rarely some people develop anaphylaxis which is life threatening.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis include low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, etc. If you find that you develop any symptoms of allergies or feel dizzy or short of breath, call an emergency immediately.
4. Drug interactions:
Isabgol might reduce the absorption of certain drugs from the intestines like warfarin (oral anticoagulant drug), aspirin ( an antiplatelet drug) and also some drugs prescribed for treating depression. If you are taking any such drugs, you might need to consult your doctor before taking Psyllium to alter their doses.
5. Lowers blood pressure:
As psyllium can lower blood pressure, people who suffer from hypotension or low blood pressure should avoid taking it.
People with phenylketonuria need to avoid taking artificial sweeteners like aspartame. Sometimes isabgol contains aspartame and people with phenylketonuria need to avoid sweetened ispaghula preparations.
If you notice any side effects of psyllium, just stop taking it immediately and consult your physician. You have seen all the health benefits of isabgol and also their side effects. Have you ever tried using isabgol? What is your experience with it? Do, let us know about it.