Psyllium Benefits & Information

Latin Name

Plantago ovata

Also Known As

Ispaghula, isabgol. In addition, Psyllium husks are the main ingredient in a number of commercial laxatives and as such are sold under various brand names.


Originally from India and Pakistan, Psyllium is now also a native of Europe, North Africa and Asia

Parts Used

Seed husks

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

Psyllium husks are an excellent source of soluble dietary fibre. Psyllium has been used for thousands of years as a safe and effective laxative, intestinal cleanser and for maintaining healthy bowel function.

The bowel is one of the major organs the body has for eliminating toxins. A healthy bowel is simply more effective at keeping the whole body system clean and an imperative for anyone looking to maximise their health. Many modern diets often lack natural fibre as it is removed when food is processed. Low fibre diets lead to unhealthy bowels, which cause problems like constipation and haemorrhoids. Unhealthy bowels are often the underlying cause of many other diseases.

Clinical research of the past 60 years has indicated that there exists what are called "neural arc reflexes" that originate from specific bowel sites and "reflex" to affect specific tissues of the body. So a lack of fibre in the diet can lead to a poorly functioning bowel which in turn can lead to digestive disorders and trigger a remarkably wide variety of disorders almost anywhere else in the body.

Psyllium husks are beneficial for both constipation and diarrhoea and can assist in maintaining a normal and healthy bowel function. Psyllium husks are pure dietary fibre which are not digested in the small intestine and only partially broken down in the colon. Psyllium husks swell in the intestinal fluids, forming emollient gels that facilitate the passage of the intestinal contents and stimulate peristalsis. Psyllium husks absorb water and waste material in the bowels, helping to clear toxins, preventing them from staying too long in the colon.

To combat constipation they are usually effective within 12-24 hours, but may take up to 3 days in some cases.

Typical Use

It is very important to drink enough liquid when taking Psyllium husks.

The average recommended dosage for psyllium is about one or two teaspoons once or twice per day. It is recommended to start with a lower dose and gradually increase it. One or two glasses of water or fruit juice should be taken with each dose. Larger doses can be taken for dealing with specific complaints like irritable bowel syndrome.

Whereas stimulant laxatives tend to create an immediate and sometimes violent response, the positive effects of psyllium husks on constipation are usually more gradual. It can take up to a few weeks for a change to be noticed. However, when the change is felt, it is a result of an actual toning of the bowels rather than simply an irritation and purge of them.

Folklore and History

Psyllium has a long history of use throughout the world as a laxative. More recently it's use has grown as the need for laxatives, caused by modern dietary trends, has increased. In the 90s health claims for Psyllium (as a dietary supplement and to reduce cholesterol) were approved by national health authorities.