Comphensive Guide to Accessory Nutrients and Essential Oils HTML version

Meschino Health Comprehensive Guide to Accessory Nutrients and Essential Oils
Accessory Nutrients and Essential Oils
Psyllium (Psyllium husk fiber or Psyllium seed)
General Features
Psyllium is native to Iran and India. It is currently cultivated all over the world and the seed husks are used
medicinally. The seed husks are unique in that they contain a high level of mucilage content and soluble fiber, which
provide a health-promoting effect on the function of the large bowel, reduce high cholesterol levels, and help regulate
blood sugar levels in diabetics. Psyllium seeds have been used for many years in traditional herbal medicine. 1,2
Principle Active Constituents
Mucilage and Soluble Fiber - Psyllium seed husks are high in both mucilage (10 – 30% by weight) and soluble
fiber. The laxative effect is due to swelling of the husk when it comes into contact with water, creating a gelatinous
fecal mass that stimulates peristalsis (movement of fecal content through the intestinal tract) and voiding of the
bowel (bowel movements). 3 The soluble fiber is responsible for its ability to lower cholesterol and regulate blood
sugar. 4,5
Clinical Application and Mechanism of Action
1. Laxative
The laxative properties of Psyllium are due to the ability of the mucilage portion of the seed husk to absorb water, in
a similar fashion as a sponge. This swelling creates a large gelatinous mass that applies pressure to the bowel
wall and thereby, stimulates more frequent contractions of the muscles that rhythmically contract to propel fecal
matter through the large intestine. Due to the high water content of this gelatinous fecal mass, the developing fecal
matter is softened, and hydrated, provided sufficient water is ingested to allow this to occur. Thus, as a bulk-
forming laxative, Psyllium supplementation encourages more rapid movement of fecal contents through the large
bowel, softens the stool for easier elimination, and by absorbing water it may help to dilute the effects of bowel
carcinogens; a means proposed to reduce risk of colon and rectal cancers. 3,6
Studies show that Psyllium is highly effective in relieving lifestyle-related and functional constipation, but not in
cases caused by diseases of the intestinal tract. 7
In functional cases, Psyllium has been shown to be better than, or at least as effective as, standard laxative
medications (e.g., docusate sodium). Psyllium also has fewer side effects than most other laxative medications
and offers better stool consistency. 6
2. Diarrhea
Psyllium has been used successfully to control diarrhea due to its ability to increase the thickness of stools. 8,9
This also has important application for HIV patients, taking Protease Inhibitor drugs, which commonly produce
diarrhea and thereby further contribute to malnutrition, weight loss, and immunosuppression, often seen in
these patients. Psyllium is one of the interventions that is shown to reduce diarrhea in these patients. 10
3. High Cholesterol
Based upon substantial clinical and scientific evidence, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has
approved a health claim for Psyllium in regards to its ability to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. 4 This is
primarily attributable to the ability of the soluble fiber fraction of Psyllium seed husk to drag cholesterol and bile
acids (bile acids may otherwise be re-absorbed and converted into cholesterol within the liver) through the intestinal