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Psyllium for digestion

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A funny name for a tiny seed, psyllium has long been known for its well-established and proven properties against digestive problems, especially intestinal transit disorders.

To better understand psyllium’s properties and use it safely, a good knowledge of its properties is essential.

What exactly is psyllium?

Scientific name : Plantago or Ispaghul with variations depending on the region of origin, part of the plantaginaceae botanical family.

This small herb is well known from India to Iran, as well as in Mediterranean countries. There are a few differences in composition and color, but the name psyllium is the most common, especially on the Internet.


Psyllium is a tiny seed, which can be black, brown or blond. The most interesting variant is blond psyllium called Plantago ovata.

The most commonly used part is the seed coat, known as the tegument. It is sold in powder form in health food and herbal medicine stores.

Surprisingly, psyllium is a plant, but not considered a food.

Once consumed, it travels through the digestive tract, correcting transit problems in the process. What’s more, whether you’re dealing with constipation or diarrhoea, the result is the same: you get your transit back on track.

This regulating effect is authorized by the highest health authorities, in this case the WHO, giving psyllium a status akin to that of a medicine.

Companies specializing in herbal medicine place great emphasis on psyllium, which is considered a natural miracle product for all digestive problems.

How psyllium works

Psyllium-based products have a mechanical action on intestinal transit, i.e. they simply change the consistency of the contents without being absorbed or digested.

This is a huge advantage, as the composition does not interfere with other foods, it does the job and then goes away!

This effect is known as a ballast laxative, and does not affect intestinal motricity, which is not always tolerated by people suffering from transit disorders, nor is it assimilated by the body.

Psyllium seedsIt’s like a sponge that passes through the digestive tract, collecting all the toxins and regulating stool consistency – and that’s all!

With its ability to absorb huge quantities of water and transform into gel, it gives stools the right consistency.

In the event of constipation, it rehydrates the contents, which increase in size and pass more easily through the colon to be evacuated without irritating its walls.

By softening the stool, psyllium draws out other impurities (bacteria and fungi).

Similarly, in the event of diarrhoea, psyllium absorbs water from the stools, which become less liquid and stop attracting water from food, thus avoiding the dehydration often associated with diarrhoea.

The benefits of psyllium

This plant is a blessing for the digestive tract and metabolism. It has long been proven to improve intestinal transit.
Whether the problem is caused by irritable bowel syndrome or intoxication, psyllium can provide the necessary comfort and soothe the pain of constipation or the very liquid diarrhea associated with gastroenteritis.

Combating constipation

This is the most widely recognized property of psyllium, from the ancient Egyptians to the Chinese and Indians. This plant is the most recommended for the effective and certain treatment of constipation problems.

When we know that chronic constipation is not only dangerous for the colon and intestines, but also for overall health, we can better appreciate psyllium’s laxative effect.

At the same time, it combats the toxins that cling to the walls of the colon, as well as the various fungi that swarm in the digestive tract and impair overall health.

People suffering from hemorrhoids or very painful anal fissures appreciate the effect of psyllium in facilitating transit. Friction pain is reduced and healing is possible more quickly.

Psyllium has also proved effective in relieving symptoms of irritable bowel and ulcers.

Combating diarrhoea

Paradoxical as it may seem, psyllium effectively treats diarrhoea. By forming a gel that absorbs excess water, it helps give consistency to stools and provides appreciable comfort by reducing the discomfort caused by frequent trips to the bathroom.

Lowers cholesterol and fat levels

Psyllium fibers slightly reduce bad cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood.

Medical studies recommend combining psyllium with anti-cholesterol medication. This is not only more effective, but also allows the use of lower doses of medication.

This is the best way to reduce the side-effects of anti-cholesterol drugs, which often have significant side-effect problems.

Treats type 2 diabetes

By combining psyllium with food, it lowers the glycemic index. By slowing down the passage of food through the digestive tract, it prevents a sudden rise in insulin levels.

People with type 2 diabetes will benefit from adding psyllium to their diet. While it has no marked effect on blood sugar levels, it does help reduce the need for diabetes medication.

Appetite-suppressant action

As part of a slimming diet, psyllium can be a valuable appetite suppressant.

Consumed before meals, it fills the stomach and provides a feeling of satiety, limiting the amount of food needed to feel fully nourished.

Over time, fewer calories are consumed and weight loss is entirely possible, without harming the body or resorting to dangerous appetite suppressants.

Composition of psyllium

Psyllium for weight lossThe main component of psyllium, from which it derives its reputation, is a form of insoluble fiber called mucilage, part of cellulose. This fiber is not absorbed by the body. This mucilage is mainly present in the seed husk, and blond psyllium contains up to 50% of it.

Other substances are contained in the psyllium tegument, but their concentration has no real effect and in no way alters psyllium’s role.

Psyllium doses and directions for use

Although psyllium’s medicinal properties are recognized by the highest health authorities, there are no well-established doses for its consumption. In fact, psyllium does not cause problems of overdosage, and each person can adapt the dose to his or her own needs.

Most often sold in powder or flake form, psyllium can be consumed in 1 to 2 tablespoons 3 times a day, increasing or decreasing the dose and repeating after a few days, depending on the results obtained.

The most important precaution when taking psyllium is to drink plenty of water with the powder, and always add a large glass of water afterwards. In fact, the powder forms a gel that must be kept well hydrated to avoid problems of obstruction or choking.

Children suffering from chronic constipation can consume half a teaspoon of psyllium powder, provided they drink plenty of water during and afterwards.

Children should never be allowed to use psyllium powder on their own, as they may choke.

Pregnant women may use psyllium in cases of constipation; no particular risk to pregnancy has been reported.

Interaction with other drugs

Without altering the efficacy of medications, it is advisable to take them at a distance from psyllium, as their absorption may be altered. It is therefore important to allow at least 2 hours for each product to reach its full potential.

Last updated on 23 March 2024.
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