Psyllium husk benefits are multiple and well documented. It’s the fiber supplement I most often suggest to clients who may benefit from more fiber than they can consume in their diet. In the my office in Berlin Germany as well as my wellness center in Atlanta Georgia I am constantly faced with clients who will benefit from a fiber supplement. Their conditions consist of hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulosis, constipation and watery diarrhea. In our western diets we consume far less fiber than ideal for our bodies. As a consequence we often struggle with bowel issues that are nearly unheard of in cultures where refined grain products are not consumed.
There are lots of fiber supplement options on the market, and I have come to the conclusion that psyllium husk benefits of lowering cholesterol tip the scales toward using psyllium rather than over the counter medicine.
Psyllium is quickly becoming one of the top recommendations for people using low-carb Atkins-style diets. It is very difficult to get enough fibre in a diet when you eliminate the carbohydrates in cereals, whole grains and fruits. Psyllium capsules are an easy way to take care of this problem. It fills you with fibre, reducing appetite without overstimulating the nervous system; a much healthier approach than other harsh stool softners prescribed by medical doctors.
Psyllium has been used for irritable bowel syndrome (a stress-related disorder with alternating bouts of diarrhea 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 hemorrhoids and is often recommended following anal or rectal surgery, during pregnancy and as a secondary treatment in certain types of diarrhea.
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 fiber of reducing flatulence and bloating. It may be recommended by a physician to help soften stool and reduce the pain associated with hemorrhoids.
Psyllium husk is what I consider the best option for most people. You can also consume it as a powder and mix it into water or juice. The key is to drink it immediately. If left to sit it forms a gel that is essentially impossible to drink. I tell my clients to mix a heaping, snow-shovel heaping, teaspoon in a small cup of water and to gulp it down. Then chase it with a large glass of water to dilute it in the stomach. Done this way it is palatable. Psyllium husk unlike others OTC colon cleansers helps lower cholesterol, helps modulate postprandial glucose if taken with a meal, and helps lower the risk of heart disease.
Psyllium husk benefits digestion by keeping the colon contents moist, malleable, and in this way reduces cramps, pain, and bowel irregularity in irritable bowel syndrome. It is also helpful in managing chronic constipation, hemorrhoids and anal fissures by leading to soft but formed stool that is easily passed and reduces the need to strain. In cases of watery diarrhea the psyllium husk benefits by absorbing water and giving more texture to the stool which makes control of the bowels easier.
Research reported in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concludes that the use of soluble-fiber cereals is an effective and well-tolerated part of a prudent diet for the treatment of mild to moderate Hypercholesterollaemia. Soluble fibers 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. Studies reported in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition have shown psyllium to be quite effective in lowering total as well as LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels, which can be helpful to those with high cholesterol and those at increased risk for developing hypercholesterolemia, such as people with type 2 diabetes.
Studies and clinical reports suggest that psyllium may enhance the sensation of fullness and reduce hunger cravings. For these reasons, incorporating psyllium and other sources of fiber into the diet may aid weight loss.
Akilah M. El, N.D. is a Naturopathic Doctor and board-certified Master Herbalist with a private practice in Atlanta Georgia and Berlin Germany. Join Dr Akilah El on Facebook and Twitter