Ispaghula

Ispaghula, Plantago ovata, Blond psyllium, Herb

Plantago ovata Plantaginaceae Also called Blond psyllium.


Native to western Asia and India, ispaghula is a small annual herb with many erect stems. Its leaves are narrow, lance-shaped, indented and hairy and have vertical, parallel veins. Its white flowers grow in cylindrical spikes. Its seeds are pink or greyish brown, shaped like small oval boats and measure around 2mm in length.


Parts used

  • Seed and its outer coating
  • When ripe, the seed is harvested, threshed and dried in the sun.
  • The seed is then used to make bulk-forming laxatives in the form of powders, drinkable solutions and granules.

Constituents

Up to 30 per cent of the seed is composed of mucilage, which is responsible for its laxative effects. In addition to this, the seed contains proteins, lipids and sterols.


Medicinal uses

The mucilage present in ispaghula is not absorbed by the digestive tract and so helps to bulk out the stools. The result is a marked improvement in both the movement and the softness of the stools. Because of this gentle action, ispaghula is a popular remedy for constipation, as well as remedying diarrhoea.Ispaghula should be used on its own and not combined with stimulant laxatives such as senna. A clinical trial performed in Germany in 1994 documents the efficacy of ispaghula husk in treating irritable bowel syndrome. Ispaghula is also reputed to soothe gastric inflammations, as well as urinary tract infections.


It has also been suggested that ispaghula mucilage may reduce both blood sugar and cholesterol levels. A Spanish study performed in 2001 demonstrated the ability of ispaghula husk to lower blood glucose levels after eating


CAUTIONS

  • Laxatives, including ispaghula, should not be used for prolonged periods without the consent of a doctor.
  • Ispaghula should never be used by anyone suffering from undiagnosed abdominal pains, intestinal blockage; or a diagnosed intestinal illness.
  • While taking the laxative, you should also eat a healthy, highfibre diet, drink plenty of fluids (important for older people), and take some physical exercise.

PREPARATION AND DOSAGE

For internal use


TO TREAT constipation, high cholesterol


CAPSULES (430mg) Take 2 capsules before each meal with a large glass of water. POWDER SACHET (3-6g) Take 1 or 2 with a main meal diluted in a large glass of water. GRANULES Take 3 teaspoons during main meals with a large glass of water.


IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST CONSULT A DOCTOR


Cultivation

Plant in well-drained soil and locate in light shade. The seeds are obtained at the beginning of autumn, and can be saved for sowing the following spring.



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