Psyllium husk is a type of fibre that is made from the Plantago ovata plant. Also known as isabgol, psyllium husk comes from the husk of the plant’s seed.

However, the name “Psyllium” is used for the whole plant, along with the crust and the seed. 

Psyllium husk is known to possess multiple health benefits for both humans and animals. Traditional Iranian medicine has been making use of psyllium for ages. Because of the high fibre content, psyllium husk is known to be helpful in preventing constipation. It is also beneficial for the heart and can help keep diabetes under control.

Psyllium husk can be consumed in a lot of ways. It does not have any sugar or flavour. So it is usually recommended to consume psyllium husk with water or juice. If you find the taste of pure psyllium husk unpleasant, you can also bake it in cookies, biscuits and other confectionaries. 

Some facts you should know about Psyllium Husk:

  • Botanical name: Plantago Ovata husk
  • Family: Plantaginaceae
  • Common name: Psyllium husk / Isabgol
  • Sanskrit name: Sat Isabgol.
  • Parts used: Psyllium is a form of fibre made from the husk of the psyllium plant's seeds.
  • Geographical distribution: Psyllium is native to Asia, the Mediterranean region, and North Africa and commercially grown in India. India is the largest producer of psyllium husk in the world. In India, it is mainly cultivated in Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Gujarat accounts for nearly 35% of the total world production of psyllium husk.
  1. Psyllium husk nutrition facts
  2. Psyllium husk health benefits
  3. Psyllium husk side effects
  4. Takeaway

Psyllium husk is primarily rich in fibre. But it also contains other essential nutrients that can be beneficial to the body. Psyllium husk is rich in minerals such as potassium, calcium and iron.

As per the USDA Nutrient Database, the table below shows the nutrient values of psyllium husk per 100 g.

Nutrients Value per 100 g
Energy 375 kcal
Protein 5 g
Fat 6.25 g
Carbohydrate 75 g
Fibre 10 g
Sugars 30 g
Iron 50 mg
Calcium 1.8 mg
Potassium 262 mg
Sodium 288 mg
Fats/Fatty acids  
Saturated 2.5 g
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Being rich in fibre, psyllium husk is highly beneficial for the stomach and heart. It also aids in appetite control. Let us have a look at some of the science-backed health benefits of psyllium husk: 

  • For constipation: Psyllium husk is one of the richest sources of fibres and is thus helpful in the management of constipation. Other than having laxative properties, it increases the concentration of water in the stools facilitating their easy removal.
  • For other digestive issues: Psyllium husk is also helpful in the management of diarrhoea, amoebic dysentery and ulcerative colitis by regulating bowel function.
  • For appetite control: Being rich in fibres, psyllium husk helps to control appetite and hunger by enhancing fullness and increasing the time taken for the emptying of the stomach following a meal.
  • For diabetes: A diet rich in fibres is good for diabetic control and supplementation with psyllium husk aided in the reduction of blood glucose levels in those affected with type 2 diabetes.
  • For high cholesterol: The intake of psyllium husk helps to lower total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, while increasing the levels of high-density lipoprotein, which is a good type of cholesterol. It also reduced the absorption of cholesterol by the body.
  • For hypertension: Being a rich source of dietary fibre, psyllium husk also helps lower blood pressure, as divulged by clinical studies reporting a decrease in blood pressure by 55 mm Hg.

Psyllium husk for constipation

Constipation is characterised by irregular bowel movements and difficulty in passing stools. This condition is often associated with stomach pain, bloating and loss of appetite. Several studies suggest that psyllium husk can be used to relieve constipation

A clinical study including 170 subjects with chronic constipation revealed that regular consumption of psyllium husk increased the content of water in the stool and made bowel movement easier. 

An older study showed that psyllium husk can be used with fibrous compounds such as pectin and cellulose to improve its laxative potential., Both these fibres are commonly found in fruits such as berries and apples. Adding pectin or cellulose to psyllium husk can also help get rid of the blandness of psyllium husk.

Another study indicated that the polysaccharides present in psyllium husk and their gel-forming abilities can help prevent constipation.

(Read more: How to improve digestion)

Psyllium husk for diabetes

Diabetes is an endocrine disorder in which our body is unable to metabolise glucose, causing an accumulation of sugar in the blood. Although it is not possible to completely cure diabetes, the condition can be managed by making simple changes to one's diet. According to The American Diabetes Association, a diet rich in fibre is useful for keeping diabetes under control.

A clinical study on 34 men with type 2 diabetes and high levels of cholesterol revealed that supplementation of psyllium husk for a period of 2 weeks showed a significant reduction in blood glucose levels. This indicates that psyllium husk is safe for consumption in people with type 2 diabetes.

(Read more: What to eat and what not to eat in diabetes)

Psyllium husk for appetite control

A lot of people tend to feel hungry between meals and end up snacking on processed or unhealthy food. In a research done to evaluate the correlation between stomach emptying and appetite, it was seen that psyllium husk significantly increased the time taken for stomach emptying after a meal. Being rich in fibre, psyllium husk also increases the feeling of fullness, thereby reducing hunger pangs between meals.

(Read more: Balanced diet chart)

Psyllium husk lowers cholesterol

High cholesterol in the blood could mean a higher risk of getting heart diseases. People with high levels of cholesterol are more prone to heart attack and stroke. Several studies indicate that psyllium husk could help reduce the level of cholesterol in the body.

One such study was done on 125 diabetic patients who were asked to consume psyllium husk thrice a day for a period of six weeks. The results of the study suggested a significant reduction in the total cholesterol level (TC), triglyceride level and bad cholesterol (LDL) level with regular consumption. There was also an increase in the level of good cholesterol (HDL). 

A study conducted on 47 obese males aged between 15 - 16 years showed that consumption of fibre rich psyllium husk led to an 8% decrease in the level of bad cholesterol (LDL).

Another clinical study on 20 subjects with high levels of cholesterol indicated that psyllium husk helps lower the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) and reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the blood by stimulating the synthesis of bile acid.

(Read more: Foods to reduce high cholesterol)

Psyllium husk for diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is a condition characterized by an abnormally frequent passage of watery stools. Research reveals that psyllium husk can help prevent diarrhoea. A clinical study done on 8 individuals indicated that psyllium husk can delay the emptying of the stomach by increasing the consistency of the meal and reducing the time taken for the food to reach the colon. This was particularly beneficial for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhoea. 

Diarrhoea is also one of the most common side effects of radiation therapy in cancer patients.  Studies reveal that psyllium husk can help prevent the frequency and severity of diarrhoea in cancer patients after radiation.

(Read more: Home remedies for diarrhoea)

Psyllium husk for amoebic dysentery

Amoebiasis or amoebic dysentery is caused by an intestinal parasite Entamoeba histolytica. Common symptoms of this condition include stomach cramps and diarrhoea. Traditionally, psyllium husk is used as a remedy for amoebic dysentery. A research study suggested that certain active compounds present in psyllium husk have inhibitory effects against Entamoeba histolytica and E. diapar. The research further reported that crude extracts of psyllium are effective amoebicidals (kills Entamoeba) at a concentration of 1 to 10 mg per ml and thus can be used in the treatment of amoebic dysentery.

(Read more: Amoebiasis antibody test)

Psyllium husk to treat ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a condition that affects the colon or large intestine and it is usually characterized by inflammation and irritation. If left untreated, it may lead to colon cancer.  

In a clinical trial with 150 patients with ulcerative colitis, oral supplementation of psyllium husk has been found to be as effective as mesalamine in treating ulcerative colitis. Mesalamine is one of the drugs that are being used to treat ulcerative colitis.

However, if you have ulcerative colitis, it is best to ask your doctor before adding psyllium husk to your diet.

(Read more: Homeopathic treatment for ulcerative colitis)

Psyllium husk for high blood pressure

Blood pressure is the force that the heart uses to pump blood through the body. High blood pressure usually does not have any immediate symptoms. But if this condition is left untreated, it could lead to heart diseases and stroke. Research suggests that a diet low in protein and fibre could be associated with high blood pressure. Psyllium husk is a rich source of dietary fibre.

A clinical study was done on 36 hypertensive (high blood pressure) patients to access if consumption of psyllium husk can control high blood pressure. The results revealed that there was a reduction in blood pressure by 5.9 mm Hg (5.9 millimetres of mercury). It was further added that the hypotensive (blood pressure reducing) effects of psyllium husk are not affected by gender, age or weight.

(Read more: Foods to reduce blood pressure)

On the whole, psyllium husk is associated with very few side effects. These include:

  • Psyllium husk may cause allergy and respiratory disorder 
    Although uncommon, some allergic reactions such as rashes, itching and difficulty in breathing may occur upon consumption and inhalation of psyllium husk. Studies have shown that psyllium dust fumes may cause bronchial distress in some people.
  • Psyllium husk may cause bloating
    Psyllium husk is very high in fibre and is therefore prescribed for constipation and other gastrointestinal disorders. However, excessive consumption of fibre may affect the passage of gas from the gastrointestinal tract to the rectum, leading to gas retention and bloating.
  • Psyllium husk may cause choking 
    It is highly recommended to take psyllium with a full glass of water and drink at least 6 to 8 full glasses of water throughout the day to avoid constipation. Swallowing psyllium powder or husk without water may result in choking. Psyllium husk is nowadays being added to cookies, crackers and similar products to prevent this.
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Psyllium husk is a type of fibre that is obtained from the seeds of the Plantago ovata plant. Owing to its high fibre content, psyllium husk is usually used to prevent constipation. Apart from this, psyllium husk is also rich in other minerals such as calcium, iron and potassium. Some of the health benefits of psyllium husk are - it prevents diarrhoea, it can help lower blood pressure, it can lower cholesterol levels and also help keep diabetes under control. It is advised to consume psyllium husk with plenty of water to avoid choking. Since psyllium husk does not have any flavour or taste, people usually consume biscuits or cookies containing this dietary fibre.

Medicines / Products that contain Isabgol


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