Perhaps best known as a sort of laxative or fiber supplement under brand names like Metamucil, psyllium husk offers a variety of health benefits like many of the plant-based soluble fibers you can purchase as a supplement.
The plant Plantago ovata is the source of psyllium husks and fibers. This husk is popularly known as Isapghula in its source country, India. The traditional use of this husk was for the treatment of skin infections, blood pressure management, and the treatment of the bladder.
People will find the most useful for psyllium husk in lowering cholesterol levels (bad “LDL”) and reducing constipation (just ensure you’re drinking enough water!).
Big Benefits to Psyllium Husk
- IBD, IBS, Ulcerative Colitis, and Constipation Relief – additional supplemental fiber intake in the form of psyllium husk is recommended by scientific studies to improve symptoms of digestive distress and relieve constipation by adding bulk to stool. When combined with water (or liquid) in the digestive tract, it can help speed the passage and excretion of stool. It also helps make the stool firmer.
- Numerous studies conclude psyllium husk to be beneficial towards cholesterol levels; improving HDL “good” cholesterol and lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol in a number of clinical trials. Compared to placebo, and not adjusting dietary habits, those taking psyllium reduced LDL levels by over 20% after 8 weeks of treatment – and the decline continued as the treatment progressed further.
- Psyllium helps you with type II diabetes control your blood sugar and blood pressure without any negative side effects commonly associated with traditional ‘long-term’ medications. The high fiber content can help to maintain glycemic balance and appears to be an extremely safe and effective choice for those with type II diabetes to better manage glucose regulation.
Feeling Bloated? Poor Gut Health? Is Psyllium Husk Right for Me?
This is likely due to the absorption of water from the psyllium husk and the sudden increase in dietary fiber (especially if you don’t eat a lot initially). To accommodate this, try scaling back on the amount of psyllium husk you’re using and ensure you’re staying properly hydrated throughout the day.
Bloating and gas may be an indication that you’re intaking too much fiber, but it could also just be your body slowly trying to adapt to the change.
If you have an esophageal narrowing or any sort of bowel obstructions, you’ll probably want to avoid taking any sort of psyllium husk supplement.
If you’re new to fiber supplements like psyllium, it is always best to start slowly and increase the dosage as you become accustomed to the increased changes in dietary fiber. You’ll want to take around a TSP, with a large glass of water (~240mL) and a meal. 5 grams divided into three daily doses with water and meal is a safe and therapeutic dosage.
You also want to make a note to avoid using it at the same time as medications as it may impact their absorption and utility. Much like with apple pectin, we recommend trying to take psyllium an hour prior to drugs, or around ~4 hours after any medications.