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Psyllium Seeds

Introduction
Ispaghula, the popular name assigned to the plant genus Plantago is also known as psyllium. the seeds of this plant are widely used for its mucilage. The varied species of Plantago known as psyllium or Indian plantago are annual herbs which are native to the Mediterranean region of southern Europe and North Africa.

The word psyllium is said to have originated from a Greek word for a flea, which explains the size, shape, and whitish color of the seed, which is the most important commercial part of this plant.

The stemless annual bears dark green leaves arranged alternately in a basal rosette, giving rise to an erect spike of dull, wind-pollinated flowers.

 

Seed Description
The dull colored Psyllium seeds are smaller in size and are encapsulated with in a thin white hull. The mucilage content of a psyllium seed is estimated to range between 10-30 percent. Once the seed is placed in water, its outer walls swells up to 14 times its original size,as a thickened layer of mucilage forms around the seed. This mucilage lubricates and cleanses all the areas it passes through.

In various regions across Europe the seeds have been widely for the sake of intestinal health since the 16th century and by 1900, its popularity reached the U.S. as well.

 
The psyllium seed is made up of 40% Linoleic Acid (LA), an important fatty acid essential to health, and as the psyllium seed is an all natural substance to provide bulk fiber. Psyllium bears no harmful side effects on health. It also contains about 19% fiber content, 18.8% proteins, and 10-20% triglycerides. The seed mucilage consists of polysaccharides which is a soluble fiber.
 

Psyllium Mucilage and Uses
The mucilage which makes this [plant a commercial success comprises of about 30% of psyllium seed coat. This chemically active mucilage swells with water to keep the embryo adequately wet during germination.

Chemically referred to as colloidal polysaccharides, this mucilage consists maintly of xylose, arabinose, and galacturonic acid. It finds a varied usage in a number of commercial laxative products like Metamucil and is also an active compound in Effer-syllium, Fiberall, Hydrocil, Konsyl, and Perdiem, among others.

 

The most appreciated use of the psyllium seed is that it brings relief in chronic constipation. The seed mucilage acts as a mild soothing lubricant and absorbs toxins in the digestive tract. Psyllium also relieves chronic diarrhea, by absorbing excess water, and alleviates bladder and kidney problems, urethritis, and hemorrhoids.

In ancient times as well, psyllium seeds were used to treat sores of the mouth and throat, stop nosebleeds, treat complications of the liver, to fix loose teeth, etc.

The Psyllium seed husks are used to relieve constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticular

disease, diarrhea and other intestinal and abdominal disorders. They are also as a regular dietary supplement to improve and maintain regular GI transit.

Laxatives and fiber supplements such as Metamucil, Serutan, Effersyllium, and Isabgol have psyllium seed husks as their main ingredient.

In the United States psyllium seed consumption is done through laxative products whereas in India, these seeds are combined with fruit juice or stewed fruit. And also the crushed seed is added to oil and vinegar as a treatment for rheumatism and gouty swellings.
All the plants of the plantgo family including psyllium comprise of various antibiotics which makes all these plants and their parts a great ingredient for various medicines.

Scientific researches conducted on a regular basis show that psyllium intake may reduce hunger feelings and energy intake and act as a fulfilling appetizer.

 

A Word of Caution
Excessive intake of psyllium seeds in any form might be allergic to individuals therefore it is advisable to intake these seeds only after prescriptions from doctor.