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Some people with IBS may benefit from bulk-forming laxatives. Psyllium seeds (3.25 grams taken three times per day) have helped regulate normal bowel activity in some people with IBS.1 Psyllium has improved IBS symptoms in double-blind trials.2, 3
1. Hotz J, Plein K. Effectiveness of plantago seed husks in comparison with wheat bran no stool frequency and manifestations of irritable colon syndrome with constipation. Med Klin 1994;89:645-51.
2. Jalihal A, Kurian G. Ispaghula therapy in irritable bowel syndrome: improvement in overall well-being is related to reduction in bowel dissatisfaction. J Gastroenterol Hepatol 1990;5:507-13.
3. Prior A, Whorwell PJ. Double blind study of ispaghula irritable bowel syndrome. Gut 1987;11:1510-3.
The laxatives most frequently used world-wide come from plants. Herbal laxatives are either bulk-forming or stimulating.
Bulk-forming laxatives come from plants with a high fiber and mucilage content that expand when they come in contact with water; examples include psyllium, flaxseed, and fenugreek. As the volume in the bowel increases, a reflex muscular contraction occurs, stimulating a bowel movement. These mild laxatives are best suited for long-term use in people with constipation.
Many doctors recommend taking 7.5 grams of psyllium seeds or 5 grams of psyllium husks, mixed with water or juice, one to two times per day. Some doctors use a combination of senna (18%) and psyllium (82%) for the treatment of chronic constipation. This has been shown to work effectively for people in nursing homes with chronic constipation.1
A preliminary trial of the herb psyllium supports the use of this type of fiber in relieving the symptoms associated with diverticular disease and constipation.1
While fiber from dietary or herbal sources is often useful for constipation, it may also play a role in alleviating diarrhea. For example, 9–30 grams per day of psyllium seed (an excellent source of fiber) makes stool more solid and can help resolve symptoms of non-infectious diarrhea.1 Alginic acid, one of the major constituents in bladderwrack(Fucus vesiculosus), is a type of dietary fiber and as a result may potentially help relieve diarrhea. However, human studies have not been done on how effective bladderwrack is for this condition.
Use of psyllium has been extensively studied as a way to reduce cholesterol levels. An analysis of all double-blind trials in 1997 concluded that a daily amount of 10 grams psyllium lowered cholesterol levels by 5% and LDL cholesterol by 9%.1 Since then, a large controlled trial found that use of 5.1 grams of psyllium two times per day significantly reduced serum cholesterol as well as LDL-cholesterol.2 Generally, 5 to 10 grams of psyllium are added to the diet per day to lower cholesterol levels. The combination of psyllium and oat bran may also be effective at lowering LDL cholesterol.3
1. Olson BH, Anderson SM, Becker MP, et al. Psyllium-enriched cereals lower blood total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, but not HDL cholesterol, in hypercholesterolemic adults: Results of a meta-analysis. J Nutr 1997;127:1973-80.
2. Anderson JW, Davidson MH, Blonde L, et al. Long-term cholesterol-lowering effects as an adjunct to diet therapy in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Am J Clin Nutr 2000;71:1433-8.
3. Romero AL, Romero JE, Galaviz S, Fernandez ML. Cookies enriched with psyllium or oat bran lower plasma LDL cholesterol in normal and hypercholesterolemic men from Northern Mexico. J Am Coll Nutr 1998;17:601-8.
Psyllium seeds and husks have shown a modest ability to lower blood triglyceride levels in some,1, 2 but not all,3 clinical trials. Further research is needed to assess the effect of psyllium on triglyceride levels more closely, as much of the study so far has focused on lowering cholesterol levels.
1. Jenkins DJA, Wolever TMS, Vidgen E, et al. Effect of psyllium in hypercholesterolemia at two monounsaturated fatty acid intakes. Am J Clin Nutr 1997;65:1524-33.
2. Ganji V, Kies CV. Pysllium husk fiber supplementation to the diets rich in soybean or coconut oil: Hypocholesterolemic effect in healthy humans. Int J Food Sci Nutr 1996;47:103-10.
3. Davidson MH, Maki KC, Kong JC, et al. Long-term effects of consuming foods containing psyllium seed husk on serum lipids in subjects with hypercholesterolemia. Am J Clin Nutr 1998;67:367-76.
Constipation is believed to worsen hemorrhoid symptoms, and thus, bulk-forming fibers are often recommended for those with hemorrhoids. A double-blind trial reported that 7 grams of psyllium, an herb high in fiber, taken three times daily reduced the pain and bleeding associated with hemorrhoids.1 Some healthcare professionals recommend taking two tablespoons of psyllium seeds or 1 teaspoon of psyllium husks two or three times per day mixed with water or juice. It is important to maintain adequate fluid intake while using psyllium.
Psyllium is native to Iran and India and is currently cultivated in these countries. The seeds are primarily used in traditional herbal medicine. Psyllium seed husks are mainly used to treat constipation.
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2018.
Ingredients: Certified Organic Psyllium seed husks
SUGGESTED USE: ADULTS AND CHILDREN OVER 12: 1 Tablespoon, 1 to 3 times a day. CHILDREN 6-12: 1 teaspoon, 1 to 3 times a day.
Start by taking 1 serving each day. Gradually increase to 3 servings per day if needed. Stir briskly into at least 8 ounces (a full glass) of liquid. Juice, water, soy or rice drink, and milk are all good with Psyllium Whole Husks. For easiest mixing, shake in a closed jar. Drink immediately. If product is too thick when consuming, add more liquid and stir. Drinking additional liquid is helpful. If minor gas or bloating occurs, reduce the amount you take until your system adjusts.Use every day for best results.
As with all bulking fiber supplements, do not take within 1 to 2 hours of prescription medications. If you are taking medication or are under a doctors care, consult a health professional before use.
CAUTION: A very small percentage of individuals, particularly health care providers who have been occupationally exposed to psyllium dust, may develop a sensitivity to psyllium. This sensitivity may result in an allergic reaction. If you experience a strong reaction, with difficulty in swallowing or breathing, after taking this product, seek immediate medical attention. Keep out of the reach of children.