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What are Whole Psyllium Husks?

By Christine Hudson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Whole psyllium husks are seed husks, which are known as ispaghula, from the plant plantago ovata. This plant is native to Middle Eastern regions such as India. Psyllium is used all over the world for many different purposes, mostly for different health benefits. Most often this plant is consumed as a way to add fiber to a person’s diet. The very high content of soluble fiber in whole psyllium husks is said to improve the gastrointestinal functions of those who do not get enough soluble fiber in their regular daily diet.

Most people who take psyllium take it in powdered or ground-up forms. Psyllium husk powder is a common ingredient in colon-cleansing products and many other fiber supplements and detoxifiers. The majority of products that contain psyllium husk powder are mainly for constipation relief, be it an actual relief product or a preventative fiber product. Some people use the powder in bread and cake recipes as a way to incorporate it into their diet, as drinking a liquid with the powder added can sometimes be unpleasant. It has also been suggested to aid with the reduction of blood sugar levels and many gastrointestinal problems.

There are many ways to take this product. Typically, it is possible to buy whole psyllium husks from health food stores and chop or grind them up or buy husks which are already powdered. Suggested dosage is 1 to 2 teaspoons (about 8 grams) of psyllium per day, either in food or water.

The most commonly-reported side effect of using whole psyllium husks is that some of it can become lodged in the throat. When a person takes a drink, this can swell up and block off the air passages. Others who have regular contact with psyllium may develop an allergic reaction, so it is often suggested that use be temporary and infrequent. Some temporary complaints include bloating, increased constipation, and gastrointestinal side effects, which are considered normal and commonly pass after a few days of regular use.

It is generally advised that those suffering from a narrowing of the intestines consult a doctor before using whole psyllium husks due to an increase in the risk of intestinal blockage. Most side effects are caused by inadequate water consumption while taking this product. Recommended intake is at least 8 oz. (about 60 mL) of water per teaspoon of psyllium and eight glasses of water throughout the day.

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