Scientific Name/Common Name:Plantago ovata / Psyllium

Part(s) Used:Seed and husk

Constituents/Active Ingredients:10-30% mucilage, mainly concentrated in the husk or outer epidermis of the seed coat. This soluble fibre is largely made up of xylose, galacturonic acid, arabinose, and rhamnose. The seeds also contain: hemicellulose; 15-20% protein; 5-13% fixed oil with linoleic and oleic acid esters (omega-6 and 9 fatty acids); phytosterols; triterpenes; aucubin (iridoid glycoside); and the alkaloids plantagonine, indicaine, and indicamine.

Overview:Psyllium products, also known as ispaghula, consist of the dried, ripe seeds of the plant, as well as preparations of the ground/powdered seed and husks. Psyllium has a long history of traditional use as a medicine in the US, Europe, India, and China. Psyllium seed was traditionally used for treating chronic or occasional constipation, as a soothing, non-irritating bulk laxative, as an absorbent fibre for treating diarrhea and for alleviating irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, and diverticulitis. Some other uses of psyllium in traditional medicine include as an emollient, demulcent, and diuretic.

Traditional Use/Benefits/Body Systems:Constipation; to help lower cholesterol levels; to provide bulk to ease bowel movements.

Clinical Studies/Scientific Research/References:

Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, editors. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

Solà R, et al. Soluble fibre (Plantago ovata husk) reduces plasma low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, oxidised LDL and systolic blood pressure in hypercholesterolaemic patients: A randomised trial. Atherosclerosis. 2010 Mar 17.

Anderson JW, Allgood LD, Lawrence A, et al. “Cholesterol-lowering effects of psyllium intake adjunctive to diet therapy in men and women with hypercholesterolemia: meta-analysis of 8 controlled trials.” Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:472-9.

Disclaimer:This information in our Herbal Encyclopedia is intended only as a general reference for educational purposes. It is not a replacement for medical advice. This content does not provide dosage information, cautions/contraindications, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Please consult any relevant product labels for detailed information on use and with a medical practitioner for individual health advice.