The Ultimate Guide To Psyllium Husk Herb Gardening, Storage & Use
The ultimate guide to Psyllium Husk herb cultivation, gardening, storage, medicinal use, dosage, side effect, precautions, interactions, clinical studies, retailing and general usage.
Fiber is more than just a regulator — it’s also vital to deliver essential nutrients to the entire body. We obtain fiber most abundantly in our diets from whole grains, fruits and vegetables. But what if we don’t manage to consume enough fiber on a daily basis, or our personal health concerns (like constipation) could benefit from a fiber boost? Many popular commercial brands of fiber supplements on the market today are loaded with artificial flavors, colors and fillers — yuck! Why take a product that possibly helps you in some way but might negatively affect you in other ways?
The best fiber supplements are 100 percent natural and 100 percent pure. Psyllium husk is the perfect natural way to step up your fiber intake on a regular basis!
This article on Psyllium Husk herb is part of Health2Wealth herbal education in preparation for the launch of #AfricanKitchen TV series. If you want to contribute to this content, suggest edit, feature as a consultant or retailer, please contact us. You can click on any of the main topics below to jump to that section.
What Is Psyllium Husk?
Psyllium, or ispaghula is the common name used for several members of the plant genus Plantago whose seeds are used commercially for the production of mucilage.
Psyllium Husk is a form of fiber made from the husks of the Plantago ovata plant’s seeds. It sometimes goes by the name ispaghula.
It’s most commonly known as a laxative. However, research shows that taking psyllium husk is beneficial to many parts of the human body, including the heart and the pancreas. Psyllium is a bulk-forming laxative. This means it soaks up water in your gut and makes bowel movements” much easier.
The soluble fiber in psyllium is polysaccharide arabinoxylan, a hemicellulose.
Psyllium is produced mainly for its mucilage content. The term mucilage describes a group of clear, colorless, gelling agents derived from plants. The mucilage obtained from psyllium comes from the seed coat. Mucilage is obtained by mechanical milling (i.e. grinding) of the outer layer of the seed.
Mucilage yield amounts to about 25% (by weight) of the total seed yield. Plantago-seed mucilage is often referred to as husk, or psyllium husk. The milled seed mucilage is a white fibrous material that is hydrophilic, meaning that its molecular structure causes it to attract and bind to water. Upon absorbing water, the clear, colorless, mucilaginous gel that forms increases in volume by tenfold or more.back to menu ↑
Cultivation & Gardening Of Psyllium Husk
The genus Plantago contains over 200 species. P. ovata and P. psyllium are produced commercially in several European countries, the former Soviet Union and India. Plantago seed, known commercially as black, French, or Spanish psyllium, is obtained from P. psyllium L., also known as P. arenaria. Seed produced from P. ovata is known in trading circles as white or blonde psyllium, Indian plantago, or isabgol. Isabgol, (or ispaghol in Pakistan) the common name in India for P. ovata, comes from the Persian words asp and gul, meaning “horse flower”, which is descriptive of the shape of the seed. India dominates the world market in the production and export of psyllium.
Plantago ovata is an annual herb that grows to a height of 30–46 cm (12–18 in). Leaves are opposite, linear or linear lanceolate 1 cm × 19 cm (0.39 in × 7.48 in). The root system has a well-developed tap root with few fibrous secondary roots. A large number of flowering shoots arise from the base of the plant. Flowers are numerous, small, and white. Plants flower about 60 days after planting. The seeds are enclosed in capsules that open at maturity.
The fields are generally irrigated prior to seeding to achieve ideal soil moisture, to enhance seed soil contact, and to avoid burying the seed too deeply as a result of later irrigations or rainfall. Maximum germination occurs at a seeding depth of 6 mm (1/4 in). Emerging seedlings are frost sensitive; therefore, planting should be delayed until conditions are expected to remain frost free. Seed is broadcast at 5.5 to 8.25 kg/hectare (5 to 7.5 lb/acre) in India. In Arizona trials, seeding rates of 22 to 27.5 kg/ha (20 to 25 lb/acre) resulted in stands of 1 plant/25mm (1 inch) in 15 cm (6 inch) rows produced excellent yields. Weed control is normally achieved by one or two hand weedings early in the growing season. Control of weeds by pre-plant irrigation that germinates weed seeds followed by shallow tillage may be effective on fields with minimal weed pressure. Psyllium is a poor competitor with most weed species.
The flower spikes turn reddish brown at ripening, the lower leaves dry and the upper leaves yellow. The crop is harvested in the morning after the dew is gone to minimize shattering and field losses. In India, mature plants are cut 15 cm above the ground and then bound, left for a few days to dry, thrashed, and winnowed.
Harvested seed must be dried to below 12% moisture to allow for cleaning, milling, and storage. Seed stored for future crops has shown a significant loss in viability after 2 years in storage.
Psyllium prefers cool, dry weather. This plant requires clear, sunny and dry weather preceding the crop’s harvest. Warm evening temperature and cloudy wet weather close to harvest will have a large negative impact on crop yield; rainfall on the mature crop may result in shattering and therefore major field losses.
Psyllium grows best on light, well drained, sandy loam soil. The crop has low nutrient requirements.
Sow psyllium seedsin the spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, transplant the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer. Outdoor sowing—directly into the garden soil—can be made in mid to late spring.back to menu ↑
How To Harvesting Psyllium Husk Seed
Psyllium flower spikes turn reddish brown when ripe, the lower leaves become dry and the upper leaves turn yellow. To minimize shattering and field losses, the crop is harvested in the morning after dew has dried. Mature plants are cut 15 cm above the ground and then bound. They are left to dry for a few days before thrashing.
Psyllium seeds are harvested in the month of April and May. The seeds are brownish in colour, smooth in texture and possess a arch in the center. Harvesting of psyllium husk and psyllium powder involves a series of steps.
- Raw seed are cleaned by mechanical processes through various steps.
- After cleaning seeds from the cleaning and pre cleaning chambers, de-husking processes begin. The process consists of crushing the seed with emery mills and separation of husk in a closed circuit of an automatic pneumatic aspiration system.
- The psyllium seed husk is then separated from the remainder of the seed by using slight mechanic pressure. The seeds are crashed between rotating rollers and plates.
- Psyllium husk is then purified by sieving the mixture to separate the husk from the remainder of the seed part.
- To obtain high yield of pure quality psyllium seed husk, there is intact milling of psyllium seed in a mill which causes the husk to be fragmented by collision under certain conditions. The husk is fractured separating non-husk portion of the isabgol seed.
- Psyllium powder is obtained through crashing the pure husk psyllium.
- The products are then packaged under total hygienic control. Packaging includes uncoated and coated Uv stabilized PP woven fabric without liner, HDPE laminated paper bags with inner poly-liner, laminated PP woven bags with inner poly, fiber paper drum and silver plated ring with inner poly-liner.
Preserving: Store dried psyllium seeds and dried psyllium husks in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.back to menu ↑
Pharmaceutical & Medicinal Use Of Psyllium Husk
Studies have found that Psyllium is beneficial in the treatment of a variety of health conditions. In fact, the FDA has even approved advertisers and food packagers from stating that Psyllium is an effective ingredient to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Many people have also found Psyllium to be effective when treating: Bleeding hemorrhoids, Boils, Bronchitis, Colon cancer, Crohn’s Disease, Dysentery, Gallstones, High blood pressure, Incontinence, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Poison ivy rash, Psoriasis, Stings and insect bites & Ulcers
Psyllium seeds contain about 19% fiber, 18.8% protein, and 10-20% triglycerides. Psyllium seed husk is 34% insoluble fiber and 66% soluble fiber.
1. Psyllium Relieves Constipation
Initially, it works by binding to partially digested food that’s passing from the stomach into the small intestine.
One study found that psyllium had a greater effect than wheat bran on the moisture, total weight and texture of stools (6).
Another study showed that taking 5.1 grams twice a day for two weeks significantly increased the water content and weight of stools, as well as the total number of bowel movements, in 170 individuals with chronic constipation (7).
Bottom Line: Psyllium is known as a bulk-forming laxative that helps relieve constipation and promote regularity.
2. It May Help Treat Diarrhea
It does this by acting as a water-absorbing agent, which can increase stool thickness and slow down its passage through the colon.
Another study treated eight people who had lactulose-induced diarrhea with 3.5 grams, three times daily. Doing so increased their stomach emptying time from 69 to 87 minutes, which meant fewer bowel movements (12).
So psyllium can both prevent constipation and reduce diarrhea, effectively helping to normalize your bowel movements if you are having problems.
Bottom Line: Psyllium can help treat diarrhea by increasing stool size and slowing its passage through the intestinal tract.
3. It Can Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Fiber supplementation has been shown to control glycemic response to a meal and reduce insulinand blood sugar levels. This is particularly the case with water-soluble fibers like psyllium (13, 14, 15, 16, 17).
One study treated 56 diabetic men with 5.1 grams of psyllium twice per day for eight weeks. It reduced their daily blood sugar levels by 11% (20).
In another study in people with type 2 diabetes, a higher daily dose (five grams consumed three times per day) for six weeks resulted in a 29% reduction in blood sugar levels within the first two weeks (21).
Because psyllium is able to slow down the digestion of food, it’s recommended to take it with food, rather than on its own, so it has a greater effect on your blood sugar levels (22).
Bottom Line: Psyllium is able to delay food digestion, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. A daily dose of 10.2 grams ingested with meals appears to significantly affect blood sugar levels.
4. It May Boost Satiety and Aid Weight Loss
One study had 12 healthy participants consume 10.8 grams of psyllium immediately before a meal.
They experienced significantly delayed stomach emptying from the third hour after the meal and prolonged sensations of satiety six hours after the meal (30).
Another study explored the effects of two, 20-gram doses in 17 healthy participants. One dose was consumed three hours before a meal, while the other dose was consumed immediately before a meal.
The results indicated increased feelings of fullness one hour after the meal and reduced total fat intake during the day, compared to the placebo (31).
However, studies investigating a direct relationship between psyllium and weight loss seem to show mixed results.
One study found that 16 weeks of a calorie-restricted diet paired with three grams of psyllium either twice or three times daily resulted in an average weight loss of 9.9 pounds (4.52 kg) and 10.12 pounds (4.60 kg), respectively (32).
Furthermore, another study showed that psyllium supplementation on its own, as well as paired with a fiber-rich diet, resulted in a significant reduction of weight, body mass index and percentage of body fat (33).
Bottom Line: Psyllium aids appetite control by slowing down stomach emptying and reducing appetite. Decreased appetite and calorie intake may support weight loss.
5. It Can Also Lower Cholesterol Levels
Psyllium is able to bind to fat and bile acids, which promotes their excretion from your body.
In the process of replacing these lost bile acids, the liver uses cholesterol to produce more. As a result, blood cholesterol levels decrease (36).
One study reported an increase in bile acid synthesis and lowered LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in 20 individuals treated with 15 grams of psyllium daily for 40 days (37).
In another study, 47 healthy participants experienced a 6% reduction in LDL cholesterol after taking 6 grams each day for six weeks (38).
For instance, taking 5.1 grams twice a day for eight weeks resulted in a decrease in total and LDL cholesterol, as well as an increase in HDL levels in 49 patients with type 2 diabetes (41).
Lastly, one study treated 125 type 2 diabetics with 5-gram doses of psyllium three times a day for six weeks. Participants experienced increases in HDL cholesterol up to 45.7% (42).
Interestingly, a review of 21 studies reported that reductions in total and LDL cholesterol are dose dependent. This means greater results were observed with treatments of 20.4 grams of psyllium per day than 3 grams per day (43).
Bottom Line: Psyllium can lower total cholesterol levels by promoting the removal of bile acids from the body. It has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol significantly.
6. It Seems to Be Good for Your Heart
One study confirmed that 5 grams of psyllium three times daily for six weeks reduced triglycerides by 26%, compared to the placebo (46).
Moreover, in 40 patients with type 2 diabetes, triglyceride levels were significantly reduced after two months of treatment with psyllium fiber (47).
Furthermore, a diet with an additional 12 grams of fiber from psyllium supplementation reduced systolic blood pressure by 5.9 mmHg in 36 people with high blood pressure (48).
Lastly, another study in obese individuals showed that a 7-gram daily dose for 12 weeks led to a seven percent decrease in blood pressure in the first six weeks of treatment (49).
Bottom Line: Regular intake of psyllium fiber has been linked to reduced blood pressure, lowered triglycerides levels and reduced risk of heart disease.
7. It Has Prebiotic Effects
Although psyllium is somewhat resistant to fermentation, a small portion of psyllium fibers can be fermented by intestinal bacteria. This fermentation can produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which have been linked to health benefits (52, 53, 54, 55).
One study showed that 10 grams twice a day for 12 months increased the production of the SCFA butyrate (56).
Also, because it ferments more slowly than other fibers, it doesn’t increase gas and digestive discomfort.
In fact, treatment with psyllium for four months helped reduce digestive symptoms by 69% in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) (57).
Bottom Line: Psyllium is considered a prebiotic fiber. It can promote short-chain fatty acid production and decrease digestive discomfort in patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
Insoluble fiber content dilutes cancer-causing bile acids or moves feces out of the colon more quickly, hence it reduces contact-time of feces in digestive system reducing chances of producing carcinogens (cancer-causing substancez)
- It has also been used in traditional herbal systems of India and China to treat diarrhea, hemorrhoids, bladder problems, Diverticular diseases, Urinary disorder, Coronary heart diseases and high blood pressure.
- Psyllium was also used topically to treat skin irritations, including poison ivy reactions and insects bits and stings
- Psyllium has been used in traditional medicine in India like Ayurved and Unani System of medicine. According to them Psyllium is cooling, soothing and prevents acidity. It also softens substances.
Other Uses Of Psyllium Husk
Use Of Psyllium Husk As Food
As a thickener, it has been used in the food industry to thicken ice cream, enrich cereals and frozen desserts. A 1.5% weight/volume ratio of psyllium mucilage exhibits binding properties that are superior to a 10% weight/volume ratio of starch mucilage. The viscosity of psyllium mucilage dispersions are relatively unaffected between temperatures of 20 and 50 °C (68 and 122 °F), by pH from 2 to 10 and by salt (sodium chloride) concentrations up to 0.15 M.
These physical properties, along with its status as a natural dietary fiber, may lead to increased use of psyllium by the food-processing industry.
Psyllium seed is used as an additive to livestock feed and in grass seed formulas as a moisture-retention agent.back to menu ↑
Side Effect Of Psyllium Husk
Gas or stomach cramping may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
If your doctor has directed you to use this product, remember that he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
This product must be taken with at least a full glass of water or other liquid (8 ounces/240 milliliters) so that it will not swell in the throat, causing choking. Seek immediate medical attention if after taking this product you have symptoms of choking such as: chest pain, vomiting, difficulty swallowing/breathing.
Since the fiber in psyllium husk absorbs water, make sure to drink enough water when taking psyllium husk so your digestive tract is optimally hydrated. Sometimes consuming too much fiber without enough water can cause digestive discomfort, so water intake along with fiber intake is key. Wondering if you can consume too much fiber? In general, having too much fiber is not a major concern. Your body will definitely tell you if you are overdoing it in the form of feeling full or having gas and/or bloating.
Without drinking enough liquid, psyllium husk powder can possibly swell in the throat, causing blockage or choking. Always make sure to have enough liquid with your psyllium husk as well as additional water afterward if needed. Avoid use of psyllium husk if you ever had esophageal narrowing or any other swallowing difficulties. Do not take psyllium husk products if you have any bowel obstructions or spasms.
As with all fiber supplements, do not take within one to two hours of prescription medications. If you are taking any type of medication or are under a doctor’s care, consult a health professional before using psyllium husk.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.back to menu ↑
Precaution & Safety Taking Psyllium Husk
Before taking this bulk-forming laxative, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this herb, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: stomach/intestinal blockage, difficulty swallowing, appendicitis or symptoms of appendicitis (such as nausea/vomiting, sudden or unexplained stomach/abdominal pain), a sudden change in bowel habits that lasts for longer than 2 weeks, bleeding from the rectum.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
Some products may contain sugar and/or aspartame. Caution is advised if you have diabetes, phenylketonuria (PKU), or any other condition that requires you to limit/avoid these substances in your diet. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using this product safely.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant before using this medication.
It is unknown if this herb passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Psyllium appears to be well tolerated by most people.
Also, psyllium could delay the absorption of certain medications. Therefore, it’s not recommended to take it with any other medicines.
Psyllium does not seem to have many side effects and is well tolerated. However, some allergic reactions may occur in those sensitive to fiber.back to menu ↑
Interactions Of Psyllium Husk
The effects of some drugs can change if you take other drugs or herbal products at the same time. This can increase your risk for serious side effects or may cause your medications not to work correctly. These drug interactions are possible, but do not always occur. Your doctor or pharmacist can often prevent or manage interactions by changing how you use your medications or by close monitoring.
To help your doctor and pharmacist give you the best care, be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) before starting treatment with this product. While using this product, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any other medicines you are using without your doctor’s approval.
Keep a list of all the products you use. Share the list with your doctor and pharmacist to reduce your risk for serious medication problems.back to menu ↑
Overdose Of Psyllium Husk
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away.
Keep all regular medical and laboratory appointments.
Lifestyle changes that may prevent or relieve constipation include exercising, drinking enough water, and eating a proper diet with fiber-rich foods such as bran, fresh fruits/vegetables. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about lifestyle changes that might benefit you.
Missed Dose: If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip themissed dose. Take your next dose at the regular time. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Storage: Different brands of this herb have different storage needs. Check the product package for instructions on how to store your brand, or ask your pharmacist. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company for more details about how to safely discard your product.back to menu ↑
Exporting Of Psyllium Husk
Psyllium Husk is hardly exported from Africa despite having a favourable climate. So we are encouraging those who will like to go into the cultivation of the seed. Here are some fact you need to know about Psyllium Husk exportation.
- India dominates the world market in the production and export of psyllium. India provides approximately 80 percent of the psyllium available in the world market.
- India is the largest producer of isabgol and exports seed and huskworth Rs 25 million annually.
- Psyllium Husks and Industrial Powders are exported in countries such as U.S.A., U.K., France, Germany, Japan, Indonesia, Canada Mexico Sweden, Spain, Norway, Italy, Australia Denmark, Korea, Pakistan Gulf countries and some other small countries.
- Main share of U.S.A. is 60% of world demand. Others countries share are 25% and share of domestic market of India is 15% of world demand.
- About 90% of the gross production of Isabgol in India is exported, with nearly 93% of the export being of husk. Present export level of Isabgol with over 60% of total imports.
- The largest buyer of Isabgol from India is the United States, accounting for around 75% of the total husk exports from India.
- Germany is the largest single importer of seed.
- Psyllium research and field trials in the U.S. have been conducted mainly in Arizona and also in Washington.
- In India, Gujarat contributes 35% of world production of Psyllium Husk.
Featured Psyllium Husk Products
You will find here list of top Psyllium Husk products like powders, animal feeds and other dietary foods.
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Call For Contribution
The Health2Wealth Team seeks contributions that tell stories about the use and benefit of Psyllium Husk. Be creative. Be inspiring. Be inclusive. In keeping with the theme, we will embrace creative proposals that demonstrate how research and theory directly impact and influence practice at all levels.
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