What is Psyllium Husk?
Psyllium husk comes from the crushed seeds of the Plantago ovata plant, an herb native to parts of Asia, the Mediterranean and North Africa. The psyllium seed husks have been used in herbal remedies. Similar to oats and wheat, psyllium is rich in soluble fiber. Traditionally, psyllium husk is used as a gentle bulk-forming laxative for constipation.
Psyllium Husk for High Cholesterol
Indeed, psyllium has long been recognized for its potential role in reducing blood cholesterol. As early as in 1998, the FDA already approved a health claim on psyllium:
3g to 12g soluble fiber from psyllium seed husk when included as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Studies have shown that psyllium husk is effective in lowering total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein or LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels.
In general, prescription drugs should be taken one hour before or two hours after psyllium, because the absorption and effectiveness of many drugs may be reduced.
In addition, all foods bearing a psyllium health claim must also bear a label statement concerning the need to consume them with adequate amounts of fluids.
Laxative Cholesterol Cutter
Family: Plantaginaceae; (includes about 250 Plantago species, including Rib Grass)
Genus and Species: Plantago Psyllium
Also known as: Fleaseed, Plantago, Plantain
Parts used: Seeds
Mention psyllium, and most people say, “Huh?” But mention the brand-name laxative Metamucil, and everyone says, “Oh, yes.” The fact is, except for a little sweetening, coloring, and flavoring, Metamucil is psyllium-the seeds of a hardy plant distributed around the world. Psyllium is among the safest, gentlest laxatives, which earned it a place in herbal Healing centuries ago. But recently scientists discovered psyllium also has the remarkable ability to reduce cholesterol.
Psyllium is often called plantain. However, it should not be confused with the other plantain (Muca paradisiacaL a palm-like tree that produces a fruit similar to bananas.
Nature’s Cure to Nature’s Call
For centuries, traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic physicians have used the seeds and leaves of several Asian Plantago species to treat diarrhea, hemorrhoids, constipation, urinary problems, and more recently, high blood pressure.
Psyllium entered European folk medicine in the 16th century as a remedy for diarrhea and constipation. Seventeenth-century English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper recommended the seeds for inflammations, gout, hemorrhoids, and sore nipples (mastitis) in nursing mothers.
European physicians eventually adopted psyllium, but it was not widely used on this side of the Atlantic until after World War I. Today, psyllium is one of North America’s most popular bulk-forming laxatives-e-the active ingredient in Metamucil, Fiberall, Hydrocil, Naturacil, Effersyllium, ProLax, and V-Lax.