Isabgol/Metamucil/Psyllium husk - a good source of soluble fibre basically taken to relieve constipation problem
Safe and easy to use, with multiple health benefits in dosage of 5-20g depending on age and health condition.
Before starting on any supplements, take the advice of a doctor
Side effects - gas, bloating, vomiting or any kind of allergies in susceptible people.
Psyllium husk is a fibre derived from the seeds of Plantago Ovata, a plant native to India. Psyllium is soluble in water; it expands and become sticky and glutinous. It is indigestible in humans.
It's used as a dietary supplement and is usually found in the form of husk, granules, capsules or powder.
Psyllium husk benefits
Psyllium husk is a naturally occurring source of fibre that does not get digested in the stomach, it absorbs the water to become a gelatinous bulk. It has many health benefits -
To relieve constipation - husk is used as a laxative. It has the ability to bind water, increasing the bulk of the stool and ensuring easy passage of stools1.
One study showed that taking 5.1 grams twice a day for two weeks significantly increased the water content and weight of stools, as well as the total number of bowel movements, in 170 individuals with chronic constipation2.
Intake of psyllium husk also changes the intestinal microflora which in turn maintains the health of the digestive system3.
To lower cholesterol - Psyllium husk has been known to bind with bile salts and prevent absorption of cholesterol in the blood.
Studies showed that treatment with 5.1 g psyllium twice daily produces significant net reductions in serum total and LDL-cholesterol concentrations in men and women with primary hypercholesterolemia4.
To treat diarrhoea - husk also works by increasing stool thickness and slowing down its passage through the colon. Hence psyllium works both ways, by preventing constipation and by treating diarrhoea.
To lower sugar in diabetics -
Psyllium husk works better than wheat bran in managing high blood sugar levels. Soluble gel forming fibres can slow down the digestion of food releasing sugar slowly and avoiding spikes.
One study treated 56 diabetic men with 5.1 grams of psyllium twice per day for eight weeks. It reduced their daily blood sugar levels by 11%5.
For weight loss -
Husk has been known to aid weight loss in the following ways -
- It has a high satiety value, is filling and can delay gastric emptying thereby reducing appetite.
- Dietary fibre can help to reduce energy absorption by increasing energy excretion in the faeces.
- Fibre feed gut bacteria, a healthy microbiome can help to prevent obesity.
Husk in treatment of metabolic syndrome
Psyllium husk has been found to be helpful in treating metabolic syndrome(MS)6. MS is a cluster of disorders in the body that can lead to chronic diseases like CHD, diabetes.
The disorders include inflammation, high percentage of fat around the abdomen, high blood pressure, high levels of bad cholesterol or triglycerides.
Intake of psyllium husk daily can lower bad cholesterol and high blood pressure in individuals.
Commercial availability of psyllium husk
Psyllium husk is available in the market in the form of supplement/capsules, powder or as whole husk. The most common ones marketed are isabgol (as husk powder) and metamucil (in the form of capsule/powder).
Psyllium husk dosage
5-10 grams of husk powder is generally tolerated by all. Start with once a day and gradually increase it to twice a day.
Husk powder can also be mixed in a glass of warm milk or juice. It is advised to be well hydrated throughout the day since husk has the capacity to absorb a lot of water in the stomach.
How to use Isabgol/Psyllium husk powder?
Start with a tsp of husk powder in a glass of warm water. Consume it first thing in the morning before having breakfast. If well tolerated, then you can have the same at night before going to bed. Other ways of having husk powder includes -
- A tsp of powder with warm milk at night, helps to relieve constipation plus milk induces good sleep.
- Adding a tsp of husk powder with the smoothie or milkshake can make it more filling.
- For people suffering with diarrhoea, mixing a tsp of husk powder with buttermilk and consuming it can help to reduce the loose motions.
Who should take psyllium husk
Psyllium husk can be taken by -
- Those with severe constipation/diarrhoea
- Those with high levels of cholesterol
- Those with dentine problems, who cannot chew fruits and vegetables
- Those with low fibre consumption in their diet.
- Those who are obese and looking to lose weight.
Contraindications of using psyllium husk
Psyllium husk is very well tolerated upto the levels of 20g per day. However, it is better to consult your doctor -
- If you are pregnant or lactating
- If you want to include husk powder in your child’s food
- If you are under any medication since husk tend to reduce the absorption of certain medicines.
- If you have any abdominal discomfort like gas, bloating, nausea, vomiting or any other type of skin allergies on consuming the husk.