Native to Iran and regions of India, psyllium is cultivated for it use as an herbal medicine. The seeds of the psyllium plant are the primary part of the plant used in traditional herbal medicine. The husk of the psyllium plant is used to relieve constipation.
Well known for relieving constipation, psyllium has also been used by herbalists as a topical treatment for skin irritations, including poison ivy reactions and insect bites. In both China and India, it is used traditionally in connection with diarrhea, hemorrhoids, bladder problems, and high blood pressure.
High in fiber and mucilage, psyllium is an effective bulk-forming laxative. It properties as a laxative are due to the swelling of the husk when it comes in contact with water. When consumed with a sufficient amount of water, psyllium forms a gelatinous mass that keeps feces hydrated and soft. It also stimulates a reflex contraction of the walls of the bowel causing waste to be excreted from the body.
Today psyllium can be found as an important ingredient in many commercially available over-the-counter laxative products. While psyllium is an effective laxative, in most cases it may not work when constipation is due to unnatural causes such as disease or severe illness. It has also been reported that taking psyllium may lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol while leaving HDL (good) cholesterol levels unaffected. Psyllium may also improve blood sugar in diabetics.
In clinical trials, daily supplementation with ground psyllium seed appeared to reduce symptoms with people suffering from ulcerative colitis. When combined with the medication mesalamine, it appeared to be even more effective at reducing symptoms.Dosage and Administration
For constipation take 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of psyllium husk three times per day. It has also been suggested that taking 2 to 6 teaspoons (10 to 25 grams) of psyllium seed may also produce the desired effect. In all cases mix psyllium with a large glass of liquid and drink immediately before it thickens. Always follow the manufacturers' recommendations.