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Psyllium seed husks
Psyllium seed husks, also known as ispaghula, isabgol, or simply as psyllium, are portions of the seeds of the plant Plantago ovata, (genus Plantago), a native of India and Pakistan. They are soluble in water, expanding and becoming mucilaginous when wet.
Psyllium seed husks are indigestible in human beings and are often used as a source of dietary fiber. They are used to relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular disease, and diarrhea. They are also used as a regular dietary supplement to improve and maintain regular GI transit. The inert bulk of the husks helps provide a constant volume of solid material irrespective of other aspects of the diet or any disease condition of the gut. Some recent research is also showing them to be promising in lowering cholesterol and controlling diabetes.
The husks are used whole in their natural state, or dried and chopped or powdered for easier consumption. In either of these forms, one takes them by mixing them with water or another fluid. Sometimes they are combined with clay as a detoxification drink. They are also available in capsules. Over-the-counter laxatives and fiber supplements such as Metamucil, Serutan, Fybogel, Bonvit, and Effersyllium have psyllium husks as their main ingredient. They may be combined with other ingredients (e.g., Blackstrap molasses is sometimes used with psyllium seed husks for its high mineral and vitamin content, as well as being an excellent carrier). A typical dose is one to three teaspoons per glass of water. Psyllium seeds can be used for the same purpose at a lower cost.
Possible adverse reactions include allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis, especially among those who have had regular exposure to psyllium dust. Gastrointestinal tract obstruction may occur, especially for those with prior bowel surgeries or anatomic abnormalities, or if taken with inadequate amounts of water.