Psyllium seed husks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Psyllium seed husks, also known as ispaghula, isabgol, or psyllium, are portions of the seeds of the plant Plantago ovata, (genus Plantago), a native of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. They are hygroscopic, which allows them to expand and become mucilaginous.

Psyllium seed husk are indigestible and are a source of soluble dietary fiber which may be fermented into butyrate, which is a pharmacologically active short-chain fatty acid, by butyrate-producing bacteria.[1] They are used to relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome. 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[2] has shown they may be effective in lowering cholesterol[3] and controlling certain types of diabetes.[4]

Other uses include gluten-free baking, where ground psyllium seed husks bind moisture and help make breads less crumbly.

The husk 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.

They are also available in capsules. Over-the-counter laxatives and fiber supplements such as Metamucil, Colon Cleanse, Serutan, Fybogel, Bonvit, Effersyllium, and Konsyl have psyllium husks as their main ingredient.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a tangible benefit of psyllium seed husk intake[5] and a decreased risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Psyllium's soluble fiber thus has the potential to decrease the risk of CHD.

The soluble fiber in psyllium seed husks is arabinoxylan, a hemicellulose.[6]

Adverse reactions[edit]

Psyllium husks from shop in India

Possible adverse reactions include allergic reactions, especially among those having 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.

Psyllium seed husk consumption has noteworthy negative and positive attributes.[7] A properly trained person can address the potential side-effects between prescription medications and psyllium seed husk, and the potential interactions between herbs or supplements and psyllium seed husk.

The U.S. FDA has published that psyllium, among other water-soluble gums, have been linked to medical reports of esophageal obstruction (Esophageal food bolus obstruction), choking, and asphyxiation. To be specific, the FDA reports:

"Esophageal obstruction and asphyxiation due to orally-administered drug products containing water-soluble gums, hydrophilic gums, and hydrophilic mucilloids as active ingredients are significant health risks when these products are taken without adequate fluid or when they are used by individuals with esophageal narrowing or dysfunction, or with difficulty in swallowing."

and "when marketed in a dry or incompletely hydrated form" are required to have the following warning labels:

Taking this product without adequate fluid may cause it to swell and block your throat or esophagus and may cause choking. Do not take this product if you have difficulty in swallowing. If you experience chest pain, vomiting, or difficulty in swallowing or breathing after taking this product, seek immediate medical attention;"


"Directions: (Select one of the following, as appropriate: "Take" or "Mix") this product (child or adult dose) with at least 8 ounces (a full glass) of water or other fluid. Taking this product without enough liquid may cause choking. See choking warning."[8]


  1. ^ Fernández-Bañares F, Hinojosa J, Sánchez-Lombraña JL, Navarro E, Martínez-Salmerón JF, García-Pugés A, González-Huix F, Riera J, González-Lara V, Domínguez-Abascal F, Giné JJ, Moles J, Gomollón F, Gassull MA (1999). "Randomized clinical trial of Plantago ovata seeds (dietary fiber) as compared with mesalamine in maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis. Spanish Group for the Study of Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (GETECCU)". Am. J. Gastroenterol. 94 (2): 427–33. doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.1999.872_a.x. PMID 10022641. Because colonic fermentation of Plantago ovata seeds (dietary fiber) yields butyrate, the aim of this study was to assess the efficacy and safety of Plantago ovata seeds as compared with mesalamine in maintaining remission in ulcerative colitis. ... A significant increase in fecal butyrate levels (p = 0.018) was observed after Plantago ovata seed administration. 
  2. ^ Blond psyllium, MedlinePlus
  3. ^ Anderson, J. W.; Zettwoch, N; Feldman, T; Tietyen-Clark, J; Oeltgen, P; Bishop, C. W. (1988). "Cholesterol-lowering effects of psyllium hydrophilic mucilloid for hypercholesterolemic men". Archives of Internal Medicine. 148 (2): 292–6. doi:10.1001/archinte.1988.00380020036007. PMID 3277558. 
  4. ^ Anderson, J. W.; Allgood, L. D.; Turner, J; Oeltgen, P. R.; Daggy, B. P. (1999). "Effects of psyllium on glucose and serum lipid responses in men with type 2 diabetes and hypercholesterolemia". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 70 (4): 466–73. PMID 10500014. 
  5. ^ Schultz, William B (1998-02-18). "Federal Register 63 FR 8103, February 18, 1998 – Food Labeling: Health Claims; Soluble Fiber From Certain Foods and Coronary Heart Disease, Final Rule". Federal Register. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Archived from the original on 2011-08-18. Retrieved 2013-02-10. 
  6. ^ Fischer MH, Yu N, Gray GR, Ralph J, Anderson L, Marlett JA. (2004) The gel-forming polysaccharide of psyllium husk (Plantago ovata Forsk). Carbohydr Res. 2004 Aug 2;339(11):2009-17.
  7. ^ "Blond psyllium: MedlinePlus Supplements". Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  8. ^ "CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21". Retrieved 2013-02-05. 

External links[edit]