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Psyllium for Constipation: Natural Herbal Laxative Remedy

Psyllium is derived from the husks of the seeds of the Plantago ovata plant, an herb most commonly grown in India. The seed husks are used to treat constipation, high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea and other conditions. Although its main use is a laxative, it is considered to be dietary fiber. Unlike wheat bran and other fiber supplements, Psyllium generally does not cause excessive gas and bloating.

Psyllium is bulk-forming and rich in soluble fiber and mucilage. Soluble fiber absorbs water, becomes bulky in the stomach and works throughout the intestinal tract. Mucilage is a sticky, gooey substance secreted by certain plants. Psyllium seeds contain 10–30% mucilage. Once in the digestive tract, mucilage absorbs water and swells. This forms a gelatinous mass increasing the amount of water in the stool, making it softer and easier to pass. Psyllium makes stool bulkier and triggers contractions of the colon walls, leading to bowel movements. This herb, also referred as a fiber laxative is commonly used in many over-the-counter laxative products such as Metamucil ® and Konsyl®. Every 100 grams of psyllium provides 71 grams of soluble fiber; a similar amount of oat bran would contain only 5 grams of soluble fiber.

The recommended dosage is 1 to 2 teaspoons of ground psyllium seeds mixed with 8 ounces of water. It is usually taken 1 to 3 times per day. For constipation, psyllium is usually taken in the early evening to stimulate a bowel movement the following morning. It may require continued use for 2 to 3 days to provide optimal benefit. If psyllium has produced no effect within one week or if rectal bleeding, vomiting, difficulty breathing occurs, stop taking psyllium and see your doctor.

Psyllium supplements should only be given to children under the guidance of your doctor. In general, half the typical adult dosage of psyllium supplements is recommended for children between the ages of 6 of 12.

The most important thing to remember when taking psyllium is to take it with lots of water to prevent swelling in the throat and causing choking. Drinking a full glass with the supplement, and six or seven more glasses a day is recommended. Do not use this product if you have problems swallowing.

Psyllium powder may trigger asthma attacks in people with asthma. Allergic reactions to psyllium have been reported. People with diverticular disease should only use psyllium under a doctor’s supervision. Psyllium should not be taken within two hours of taking medication as it may decrease the absorption of the medication.

Do not take psyllium without first talking to your doctor if you have

· Abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting

· Rectal bleeding

· Difficulty in swallowing

· Intestinal obstruction

Do not take psyllium without first talking to your doctor if you are pregnant. It is not known whether psyllium passes into breast milk. Do not take psyllium without first talking to your doctor if you are breast-feeding an infant.