Let food be your medicine
PSYLLIUM HUSKS (Plantago ovata)
Fig 1. the plantain herb
Psyllium is the husk of the seed of the plantain which is known as a very common weed but it is actually the best herb for weight control and general intestinal health and can help to heal many digestive or excretory tract issues. It contains a spongy fibre that reduces appetite, improves digestion and cleanses the system, making it an excellent choice for healthy dieting.
Psyllium can provide the fibre that is missing on low carbohydrate diets and this can help to readdress an upset of the intestinal bacteria that can be caused by taking antibiotics. Every 100 grams of psyllium provides 71 grams of soluble fibre; a similar amount of oat bran would contain only five grams of soluble fibre. Only recently have scientists learned that soluble fibre has unique effects on metabolism. The herb also provides a feeling of fullness that is helpful before meals.
Psyllium has also been used for irritable bowel syndrome (a stress-related disorder with alternating bouts of diarrhoea and constipation. Because it will produce easy bowel movements with a loose stool, psyllium is used by patients with anal fissures (cracks in the skin near the anus) and haemorrhoids.
Psyllium soaks up a significant amount of water in the digestive tract, thereby making stool firmer and, under these circumstances, slower to pass. Psyllium also has the additional advantages over other sources of fibre of reducing flatulence and bloating. It may be recommended by a physician to help soften stool and reduce the pain associated with haemorrhoids.
In a study of people with ulcerative colitis (a type of inflammatory bowel disorder), psyllium seeds were as shown to be as effective as the prescription drug mesalamine in decreasing recurrences of the disease. In addition, psyllium is excellent as a bulking agent for mild to moderate cases of diarrhoea from either ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease (another type of inflammatory bowel disorder).
The use of soluble-fibre cereals is an effective and well-tolerated part of a diet for the treatment of mild to moderate hypercholesterollaemia. Soluble fibres such as those in psyllium husk, guar gum, and oat bran have a cholesterol-lowering effect when added to a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet. Psyllium is effective in lowering total as well as LDL cholesterol levels, which can be helpful to those with high cholesterol and those at increased risk for developing hypercholesterollaemia, such as people with type 2 diabetes. It may also help to lower blood pressure.
Easily purchased from health food stores, psyllium husks are an amazing high fibre food which can instantly relieve constipation, diarrhoea, haemorrhoids and bleeding from the anus. Try sprinkling a dessertspoonful of psyllium husks on cereals or salads and in sauces, soups and stews daily rather than buying the capsules. One dessertspoonful can also be added to juices or milk.
NOTE: Drink plenty of water when consuming psyllium husks.
Fig 2. Psyllium husks
Psyllium husks should not be consumed if there is any difficulty with swallowing, unexplained abdominal pain, nausea , or vomiting. If kidney disease is present, a doctor must be consulted before before taking psyllium. When consuming any type of fibre, gas and bloating are possible side effects. It is very important to drink plenty of fluids when taking psyllium.
Certain individuals may be sensitive to psyllium husks and consumption may cause cramps, difficulty breathing or swallowing, itching, skin rash or vomiting.
Psyllium particles (eg, powder) must not be inhaled as this can cause allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing and itchy, red eyes.
The effectiveness of some drugs can be altered when taking psyllium husks due to absorption of these drugs being reduced, therefore psyllium husks should not be consumed for two hours before taking any medications or 2-4 hours after taking medications. Drugs known to be affected are:
Antidepressant medicines or tricyclics (especially Amitriptyline - Elavil, Doxepin - Sinequan, Imipramine - Tofranil)
Seizure medicines (especially Carbemazepine - Tegretol)
Bile acid sequestrants
Heart medicines (especially Digoxin and Lithium)
See also the Plantain herb
"Nature cures not the physician..." Hippocrates 460 BC
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