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Psyllium’s roots can be traced back to traditional Indian and Arab medicine. Both used Psyllium to ease constipation and upset digestive systems. Arab physicians used Psyllium during the Middle Ages while references of its use can be found in ancient Indian prescriptions.
Psyllium was introduced into the United States 70 years ago as a way to relieve constipation. Today the United States is the number one importer of Psyllium with 60% of it going to pharmaceutical firms around the country.
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Psyllium comes from the Psyllium seed which is harvested from the plant known as the Plantago psyllium. This plant is native to Asia , North Africa and the Mediterranean region ( India and Pakistan ).
The Psyllium seed is a tiny gel coated reddish brown seed that is tasteless and odorless. Psyllium ismost often produced as a bulk-fiber based laxative for foods or fiber supplements.
Psyllium for Constipation
Psyllium is well-known for helping to relieve symptoms related to constipation. “Many well-designed studies have concluded that psyllium relieves constipation”. Psyllium is a bulk-forming fiber, which means when exposed to water it absorbs the water, swells, and forms a slippery film.
This does one of two things; it creates a softer and bulkier bowel movement and it stimulates the contractions of the lower bowel. A bowel movement that is softer and bulkier moves through the intestines more quickly, more easily and more often.
The contractions of the lower bowel are what push the movements through the colon; when your bowel is contracting more often you have more frequent bowel movements. When you combine these two attributes of Psyllium you have a recipe for constipation relief.
Psyllium for Cleansing the Colon
When your body is not efficiently cleansing itself (constipation), toxins can build up and cause illness. “A slow transit time allows for more of an opportunity for bacterial putrefaction and exposure to a host of carcinogenic substances within the colon”.
Transit time is the time it takes for a food to move through your colon once ingested. The bulking effect of Psyllium helps to increase the transit time in your colon. The bulking effect is the action of the fiber in Psyllium absorbing water. This process helps to line the colon with a slippery film, increase the contractions of the lower bowel, and absorb toxic substances.
The increased contractions and the slippery film which lines the colon walls both help bowels to move more easily and more quickly through the colon. When the bowels move more quickly through your system they are effectively cleansing your system.
When Psyllium absorbs water it becomes like a sponge, this sponge now has the ability to absorb toxic substances off the wall of your colon. This Psyllium sponge is now passed out of your body and it takes the toxic material with it. Therefore the bulking effect of Psyllium makes Psyllium an excellent cleanser for your colon.
Psyllium Helps Reduce Diarrhea
Psyllium is so unique that the same bulking effect that helps to relieve constipation also helps to relieve diarrhea.
The bulking effect is the absorption of water by the Psyllium fiber. When plagued with diarrhea one has an excess of water in their colon. The Psyllium will actually absorb a considerable amount of this water, which creates a firmer movement relieving the symptoms of diarrhea.
The Reduction of Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are caused by the straining and hardness of stools associated with constipation. Psyllium helps to soften stools and increase the number of movements per day.
The Psyllium fiber absorbs water and expands, softening the movements and making them easier to pass. This relieves the symptoms associated with constipation; thus relieving hemorrhoid discomfort. “Psyllium may be recommended by a physician to help soften stool and reduce the pain associated with hemorrhoids”.
Benefiting High Cholesterol Patients
In addition to Psyllium’s positive benefits on the digestive system, it has also been proven to help lower high cholesterol. “Psyllium’s effect on serum cholesterol levels has been tested in numerous studies and has proven to be quite substantial in lowering cholesterol”.
Psyllium’s ability to absorb water helps to increase the body’s ability to eliminate cholesterol through the bowel. Instead of the cholesterol absorbing into the liver or binding to the intestines it is passed through the bowel. The bad cholesterol is passed through your bowels, thus lowering one’s cholesterol levels.
Achieve You Weight Loss Goal
Psyllium’s bulk effect helps to increase one’s feeling of fullness. Psyllium’s absorption of water causes the fiber content to expand and creates a feeling of fullness in the stomach. “Studies and clinical reports suggest that psyllium may enhance the sensation of fullness and reduce hunger cravings”.
Reduced hunger cravings mean less unhealthy eating, which in turn can lead to weight loss. It is always recommended that diet and exercise be used in conjunction with the Psyllium.
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Summary of Benefits
- Psyllium is a bulking forming fiber making it one of the most effective treatments for chronic constipation and symptoms relating to constipation.
- With its ability to increase your transit time Psyllium allows your colon to cleanse it self more often and more efficiently.
- Firmer movements are created when Psyllium absorbs excess water in the colon helping to relieve diarrhea.
- Softer bowel movements are created when Psyllium absorbs water making them easier to pass relieving pain associated hemorrhoids.
- Bad cholesterol can be absorbed by Psyllium and passed through your system preventing its absorption and binding to the liver and colon – thus lowering cholesterol levels.
- The fullness created by the Psyllium’s absorption of water can help to curb hunger cravings helping with weight loss.