Habitat & Cultivation : The three psyllium-producing species thrive in diverse regions across southern Europe, North Africa, and Asia, with a particular emphasis on India, where they undergo extensive cultivation. Propagation is typically achieved through spring seeding, and these plants thrive in areas with ample sunlight. Harvesting of the seeds occurs in late summer and early autumn when they reach maturity.
- Mucilage (arabinoxylan)
- Fixed oil (2.5% – mainly linoleic, oleic and palmitic fatty acids
- Bulk laxative
- Regulating bowel function : Clinical trials in the US, Germany and Scandinavia during the 1980s have shown that psyllium has both a laxative and an antidiarrhoeal action.
- Diabetes : A 1998 clinical trial with 125 patients concluded that 5g of psyllium taken 3 times a day helped to lower blood-fat and -glucose levels in people with late-onset diabetes.
Traditional & Current Uses
- Laxative : Psyllium finds application in both traditional and herbal medicine to address constipation, particularly when it stems from either an excessively tense or overly relaxed bowel. Both the husks and seeds are rich in fiber, specifically mucilage, and exhibit significant expansion, forming a highly gelatinous consistency upon water soaking. This property contributes to enhancing stool bulk by retaining a heightened water content within the large bowel, thereby facilitating smoother passage.
- Other bowel problems : Contrary to common expectations, psyllium proves to be a beneficial remedy for diarrhea. It also serves as an effective treatment for various other bowel issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease. In India, psyllium is frequently employed in the treatment of dysentery.
- Haemorrhoid relief : Psyllium is valuable for haemorrhoids, helping to soften the stool and to reduce irritation of the vein.
- Detoxifying herb : The gel-like mucilage formed by soaking psyllium in water exhibits the capability to absorb toxins within the large bowel. Psyllium is often consumed to diminish auto-toxicity, wherein the toxins are expelled from the body along with the husks and seeds in the feces.
- Digestive ailments : The mucilage-rich husks and seeds offer a soothing and protective effect that extends to the entire gastrointestinal tract. Psyllium is used to alleviate conditions such as stomach and duodenal ulcers, as well as acid indigestion.
- Urinary infections : Psyllium’s demulcent properties also extend to the urinary tract. In India, an infusion of the seeds (utilized exclusively for this purpose) is administered for the treatment of urethritis.
- External uses : When psyllium husks are immersed in a marigold infusion, they form a potent poultice suitable for external applications. This poultice is adept at extracting infections from boils, abscesses, and whitlows (pus-filled swellings on the fingertips).