Psyllium (Plantago ovata) is a soluble fibre obtained from the plant genus Plantago. This herb is native to North Africa, Asia, and the Mediterranean region. The seed and the outer covering of the seed are used to make drug. Psyllium husk includes a high amount of hemicellulose, composed of a xylan backbone linked with arabinose, rhamnose, and galacturonic acid units. Each herb can produce up to 15000 tiny, gel coated seeds, from which psyllium husk is derived. Every 100 g of psyllium provides 71 g of soluble fiber.
Psyllium is used in human with hemorrhoids, anal fissures, constipation, ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, high blood pressure and diabetes. Some researches demonstrate psyllium can reduce total cholesterol by approximately 9 percent, and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by percent.
Constipation is a fairly common condition. Constipation, is defined as fewer than 3 bowel movements per week. The stool can be dry and hard. Constipation may be caused by not eating sufficient fibre, or not drinking sufficient fluids. It can also be a adverse effect of certain drugs, or related to an underlying disease.
Psyllium is a hydrophilic mucilloid compound made of plant fiber. Seeds contain 10–30 percent mucilage. The laxative effects of psyllium are due to the swelling of the husk when it comes in contact with water. This increases the size of stool and helps it pass more readily through the intestines. When psyllium is combined with water, it expands by 8 to 16 times its normal weight. As a result, they become soft and bulky as they pass through the intestinal tract.
In a clinical trial, two weeks of psyllium (3.6 grams 3 times daily) provided a important greater development in symptoms over placebo. Randomized, double-blind study followed 170 person with chronic constipation. The study compared psyllium herb and other laxative and found in favor of psyllium for better stool softening. (In the Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics May 1998). In a clinical trial of 149 people with chronic constipation, the consumption of 15-30 g daily of a psyllium seed preparation provided bowel relief in 85 % of patients who had no known pathological cause for their constipation.
Since Plantago ovata is known to help soften stool, it is an effectual way to decrease the pain and problems associated with hemorrhoids. This plant, fiber absorbs water and expands, softening the movements and making them easier to pass. Thus reduce hemorrhoid problem. A double-blind study showed that 7 g of psyllium, taken three times daily decreased the bleeding and pain associated with hemorrhoids. Fifty participant with internal bleeding hemorrhoids were given a placebo or 11.6 g of psyllium (Metamucil) daily for forty days. Patients in the Metamucil group had important development in reduction of bleeding and a noteworthy reduction of congested hemorrhoidal cushions.
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a illness that causes ulcers in the lining of the rectum and colon. The important symptom of active disease is generally constant diarrhea mixed with blood, of gradual onset. Other symptoms may include, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, bleeding from the rectum, anemia, and joint pain. Also, individuals who have had extensive ulcerative colitis for many years are at an increased risk to develop large bowel cancer. This disease is the result of an abnormal response by your body’s immune system. In a study of patients with ulcerative colitis, psyllium seeds were as shown to be as effectual as the prescription medication mesalamine (Asacol, Rowasa) in decreasing recurrences of the illness. This activity may probably be due to increased levels of butyric acid with psyllium supplementation.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common disease of the bowel. Symptoms include constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal cramps. You may also have mucus in your stools. Women are more often affected. Some researches have found that soluble fiber including psyllium helps to regulate stool frequency and consistency in individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Psyllium provided positive effects in IBS patients in a research that was reported in the August 2009 edition of the British Medical Journal. Recuperation at the end of the experiment was 45% better in the psyllium group.
Soluble fibers, including those from psyllium husk, have been shown to increase the cholesterol-lowering effects of a low-fat diet in individuals with hypercholesterolemia. Plantago ovata is well tolerated and safe when used adjunctive to a low-fat diet in people with mild-to-moderate hypercholesterolemia. Some findings demonstrate that psyllium seed might be more effectual than the seed husk for reduce cholesterol.
An analysis of double-blind studies in 1997 concluded that a daily amount of 10 g psyllium reduced cholesterol levels by 5 percent and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by 9 percent. There is some research findings that taking psyllium for high cholesterol makes it possible to reduce the dose of specific drugs used to lower cholesterol. Taking 15 g of psyllium along with 10 mg of simvastatin daily seems to lower cholesterol about as well as taking a higher dose of simvastatin daily. Research reported in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” concludes that the use of soluble-fiber cereals is an effectual and well-tolerated part of a diet for the therapy of mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia.
As proof of this, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) authorized the use of health claims on food products containing soluble fiber from psyllium that state that they are associated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
“3 to 12 grams of soluble fiber from psyllium seed husk when included as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease”.
The Journal of Diabetes and its Complications edition September 1998 have published a study investigating the benefits of psyllium in type II diabetes and its effects in the glucose and blood lipid levels. The findings of the study indicated that participants given 5 g of psyllium husk 3 times a day for 2 weeks demonstrated significant reduction in fasting plasma glucose. In a clinical study, patients with type 2 diabetes who took 5.1 g of psyllium per day for 8 weeks reduced their blood glucose levels by 11 to 19.2 percent.
The recommended dosage for psyllium ranges from 10-30 grams daily, in divided doses. Some physicians recommend taking 5 grams of psyllium husks or 7.5 grams of psyllium seeds, mixed with water or juice, one to two times per day. For Constipation; According to the NIH (National Institutes of Health), dosages of psyllium for constipation can range between 7 grams and 40 grams daily taken in up to four divided doses. (As a laxative, psyllium is generally taken in the early evening to stimulate a bowel movement the following morning). For Cholesterol; According to researches 5 g of psyllium husk taken three times a day demonstrated a significant reduction of total cholesterol, and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. For Diabetes; In an comment published in 1998 in the Journal of Diabetes Complications showed that an therapeutic dosage of psyllium is 5 grams before each meal. Psyllium should be taken with a minimum of 8 ounces of water.