Psyllium Husks – Home Remedy for Irritable Bowel and Digestion Issues
Psyllium husks are popular in many home medicine cabinets. This natural product is well-tolerated and can have a positive impact on digestion.
When in contact with water, the husks form a gel-like substance and swell many times their original volume. Psyllium husks can help with both diarrhea and constipation.
Why are Psyllium Husks Special?
The unique thing about psyllium husks is that they form a gel when in contact with liquid, increasing up to two-thirds of their original weight. This gel mainly consists of complex sugars (carbohydrates) and is generally very well-tolerated.
The husks form most of the gel and swell significantly. They also contain the so-called polysaccharide layer, which is also found in chia and flaxseed husks. Most psyllium is not digested by the body, making them natural soluble fibers. They can be used as a binding agent in baking.
What are Psyllium Husks Exactly?
The plant's capsules contain small, oval, usually yellowish to brown seeds. These seeds, particularly, contain plant oils, proteins, and iridoid glycosides.
The Indian psyllium seeds and their husks are the most well-known type.
The plant is part of the Plantago family and is primarily found in North Africa and parts of Asia.
History of Psyllium
Indigenous groups have used psyllium husks for digestive issues for over a thousand years. They were mentioned in ancient Persian and Arabic texts and were later brought to India for medicinal use.
Where and How to Buy Psyllium Husks?
Psyllium seeds and husks are a plant-based remedy. They can be bought online, in pharmacies, or drugstores. You can buy the whole seeds or just the husks. They are low in taste and calories.
How to Take Psyllium Husks?
You can take the seeds or husks with plenty of water or juice or mix them into juices or yogurt. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Do not mix with milk as it hinders the swelling process. Drinking at least 1.5 to 2 liters per day is recommended.
IMPORTANT: Do not take psyllium seeds with medications that act in the intestine as the gel can absorb some drugs, reducing their effectiveness. Consult a doctor or pharmacist before using psyllium seeds if you're on medication.
Do Psyllium Husks Help with Diarrhea or Constipation?
Diarrhea: Yes, they bind excess water in the intestines, helping to thicken stools. They can also help with various diarrhea-related conditions. When using for diarrhea, always drink enough water.
Constipation: Yes, psyllium husks can help by increasing the volume in the intestines, helping them empty faster. The gel also acts as a lubricant. However, ensure you drink enough water.
Psyllium husks are soluble fibers and can contribute to a healthy gut lining. They can also reduce oxidative stress and protect the gut lining.
Psyllium husks can be also used alongside medication for diabetes and obesity. Studies show they can reduce bad cholesterol intake and might help reduce insulin requirements. They can also help in weight loss and potentially reduce blood pressure. However, consult with a doctor or pharmacist before combining with other medications.
Some might experience gas and cramps initially, but these usually go away. There can be allergic reactions, especially in those who handle psyllium seeds regularly. They aren't recommended for kids and the elderly.
When Shouldn't You Take Psyllium Seeds?
Don't take them if you have a bowel obstruction or narrowing of the esophagus. Always consult a doctor first if you're on blood thinners or have severe diabetes. They're not advised for children under 12.
Do Psyllium Seeds Replace Medications?
No, they can't replace anti-inflammatory bowel medications but can complement them.