Ispaghul (Psyllium Husk)

Ispaghul (Psyllium Husk)

Overview

Ispaghul is used as a fiber made from herb called Plantago ovato.  The seed and the outer covering (husk) of the seed are used as an herbal medicine.  It is also known as Psyllium husk, Blond Psyllium and Ispaghula.

In Pakistan, it is commonly available with the name Ispaghul. 

It is categorized as a bulk-forming agent to improve digestion. Mainly it is used as a laxative to soften the stool, especially in chronic constipation and hemorrhoids (piles) patients.

Ispaghul husk is also found directly or indirectly helpful in several other medical conditions.

It is assumed that due to the increased bowel movement the food moves faster to pass through the intestine and thus reducing the absorption of bad cholesterol and excess/ complex carbohydrates (sugar) in the intestine.

It is available easily as herbal medicine without prescription.

Possible Health Benefits

According to many herbal practitioners, many illnesses apparently unrelated, have strong associations with digestive problems.  What, how and when we eat affects all body systems. Herbal practitioners believe that majority of systemic illnesses have a root cause linked to digestive health.

Generally, Ispaghul husk is recommended for the following conditions

Chronic Constipation

Ispaghul is most commonly used to improve some digestive system-related symptoms such as constipation. It absorbs water in the intestine and forms a bulk mass that helps in bowel movement.  The absorption of water by the husk softens the stools and thus pushes the stool to pass through the rectum easily.

Healthy people can also use Ispaghul regularly as a good natural source of fiber to improve digestion.

Lowering Cholesterol

Scientific evidence supports regular intake of Ispaghul husk in lowering cholesterol when used with healthy diet.  The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the label claim of Ispaghul or Blond Psyllium products containing minimum 1.7 gm of Ispaghul per serving may help in lowering cholesterol. It is found that regular intake of recommended quantity of Ispaghul may reduce total cholesterol by 3% – 15% and low density cholesterol (LDL or bad cholesterol) by 5% – 10%.

It can be consumed by adding to the meal or use separately.

Additionally, it is reported to offer several other health benefits when used with healthy diet and active lifestyle that includes:

Regulating Blood Sugar (Diabetes)

In diabetes patients, it is found to improve blood sugar level when added to the food.
Research suggests that by adding psyllium fiber in the diet may help in reducing sudden rise and drop in blood sugar levels.

Hemorrhoids (Piles)

Regular intake of Ispaghul is found helpful in reducing bleeding and pain in piles patients.
Due to the laxative effect of the ispaghul, piles patients can pass the stool without straining and as a result bleeding from rectum is reduced.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Ispaghul is an effective natural fiber for people who want to maintain healthy weight. Besides its other benefits, Ispaghul may also help to lose weight. Taking it 30 minutes before the meal will give a feeling of being fullness because Ispaghul absorbs water in the body and it expands, which helps to reduce appetite for those with bigger appetites.

Removes Toxins

It also helps to remove toxins from the body that are present in the food or produced as a result of normal digestion (metabolism) of food.

How to use

Ispaghul can be used with food or separately.  It can also be used by dissolving in the water. It is important to remember that the person should drink adequate quantity of water as ispaghul absorbs water in the intestine.

Usually suggested to use 1 hour before the meal or at least 3 hours after the meal.

Benefits may start to appear after regular use for a minimum of 1-2 weeks.

Possible side effects

It is considered safe for all normal persons.

  • People who are taking medications should ask their doctor before taking Ispaghul regularly.
  • Rarely, it may cause gas, constipation, stomach pain and diarrhea.
  • Diabetes Type 2 patients may require dose adjustment of their diabetes medication as Ispaghul reduces blood sugar levels.

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