what does psyllium husk do
Psyllium husk contains a high amount of fiber, which is important for digestive health. Learn about 6 health benefits of psyllium

Psyllium husk contains a high amount of fiber and is a common staple of fiber supplements, available in powder or capsule form. Fiber is important for digestive health and can help prevent diarrhea and constipation.

What is psyllium husk?

Psyllium husk is the covering of whole seeds of several plants that belong to the genus Plantago. Seed husks are mostly grown on a large scale in India and are exported worldwide for commercial and supplementary use.

Some companies sell entire seeds with or without the husk, as well as powdered seeds. However, they are not the same as using the husks directly as a fiber supplement.

6 health benefits of psyllium

  1. Promotes digestive health: The fiber in psyllium husk helps regulate digestion. Fiber cannot be absorbed by the body, and when mixed with water, it forms a gel that moves along the digestive system, trapping and removing waste. This helps the body pass waste more easily, promoting bowel movement regularity, preventing gas buildup, and softening stools, thereby reducing the pain associated with hemorrhoids. Psyllium is also a prebiotic that helps the growth of probiotics in the gut, promoting good digestion.
  2. Prevents diarrhea and constipation: Psyllium soaks up excess water in the digestive tract, adding bulk to stool. It is used to treat mild to moderate diarrhea and relieves constipation. Many use psyllium as a laxative, because it stimulates the intestines to contract and speeds up the process of stool passage through the digestive tract.
  3. Relieves inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS): Some studies have reported that the use of psyllium and other soluble fiber can relieve symptoms of IBS and Crohn’s disease, although some patients with IBS experienced worsened symptoms. More is therefore required to understand the actual benefits and risks of psyllium in such patients.
  4. Maintains blood sugar levels: A high fiber diet may lower blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes in high-risk patients. Psyllium gel formed in the gut mixes with sugars and carbohydrates that come from the food and slows down their absorption into the blood, controlling blood sugar levels maintaining a healthy insulin balance.
  5. Lowers cholesterol: Studies have reported that using psyllium husk daily can lower total and low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol levels, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease. Psyllium gel traps bile and cholesterol in the digestive tract, reduces their absorption, and thus lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure in the body. 
  6. Reduces hunger and aids in weight loss: Because psyllium is rich in fiber and moves food slowly through the digestive system, eating psyllium helps you feel fuller for longer and can reduce food cravings. Therefore, consuming psyllium may aid in weight loss by.

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3 side effects associated with psyllium

  1. Digestive tract: People who take psyllium for the first time may experience:
    1. Abdominal pain and cramps
    2. Constipation
    3. Diarrhea
    4. Flatulence
    5. Increased bowel movements
    6. Nausea and vomiting
  2. Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to psyllium and have symptoms such as:
    1. Breathing difficulties
    2. Skin rash
    3. Itching
    4. Swelling of the face and throat
    5. Vomiting
  3. Interactions with medications: Psyllium may reduce the absorption and effectiveness of the following drugs:
    1. Digoxin (a medicine that regulates heart function)
    2. Cholesterol-lowering drugs
    3. Diabetes medications (use of fiber supplements may lower blood sugar levels further and cause hypoglycemia)
    4. Tricyclic antidepressants
    5. Carbamazepine
    6. Lithium

It is recommended to consult a doctor before taking psyllium to prevent possible side effects.

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Medically Reviewed on 10/7/2021
References
Psyllium: https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/psyllium.html

Psyllium: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/psyllium

WHAT IS PSYLLIUM HUSK? ITS USES AND WHEN NOT TO TAKE IT: https://www.superfoodevolution.com/psyllium-husk.html