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[ 5052 ]Plantago ovataORG

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[ 3396 ]Plantago ovataORG

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[ 806 ]Plantago ovata

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[ 703 ]Plantago ovata

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Plantago ovata
plant overview
horse flower of india

Psyllium here refers to Plantago ovata, the species name of which is derived from Sanskrit and means “horse flower.” The plant is cultivated and harvested for its seed and husk, the latter of which is obtained from the minute, gel-coated seed that the shrubby plant produces in great number. In fact, a single plant can produce more than 10,000 seeds. Psyllium has a long history of use as food, especially in Europe, North Africa, India and China, although the U.S. is the largest importer today. Psyllium seed and husk is an excellent source of gluten-free, soluble fiber. Psyllium is also rich in minerals and vitamins, including potassium, zinc, iron and magnesium.

Clicking "learn more" next to each variety will take you to individual product pages for details.

A Bit of Botany

a little botanical information on psyllium

Plantago ovata is an annual herb of the Plantaginaceae family. Psyllium, as it is known, reaches a height of roughly a foot to a foot and a half (30–46 cm). Its long narrow leaves are opposite, linear or linear lanceolate at around 1 cm (.39 in) long and 19 cm (7.5 in) wide. The plant's root system features a well-developed tap root with few fibrous secondary roots.

Many flowering shoots grow from the base of the plant. It's small white flowers are numerous, and bloom about 60 days after planting. The capsules that enclose the seeds open at maturity.

The seeds and their husks contain high levels of fiber; they will expand when soaked in water and become highly gelatinous.

common names & nomenclature
The plant's common name in India is Isabgol which comes from the Sanskrit words asp and ghol, together meaning "horse flower," which describes the shape of the seed.

Also known as:
greater plantain, broadleaf plantain, englishman's foot, ripple grass, snakeweed

Psyillium, the horse flower of India

Where in the World

habitat and range for psyllium

Psyllium is native to Asia and the Middle East.

Cultivation & Harvesting

considerations for growing and harvesting psyllium

Psyllium prefers cool, dry weather. This plant requires clear, sunny and dry weather preceding the crop's harvest. Warm evening temperature and cloudy wet weather close to harvest will have a large negative impact on crop yield; rainfall on the mature crop may result in shattering and therefore major field losses.

Psyllium grows best on light, well drained, sandy loam soil. The crop has low nutrient requirements.

Sow psyllium seeds in the spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, transplant the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer. Outdoor sowing—directly into the garden soil—can be made in mid to late spring.

Psyllium flower spikes turn reddish brown when ripe, the lower leaves become dry and the upper leaves turn yellow. To minimize shattering and field losses, the crop is harvested in the morning after dew has dried. Mature plants are cut 15 cm above the ground and then bound. They are left to dry for a few days before thrashing.

Store dried psyllium seeds and dried psyllium husks in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

The Rest of the Story

psyllium history, folklore, literature & more

Psyllium entered European folk medicine in the 16th century as a remedy for diarrhea and constipation. Seventeenth-century English herbalist Nicholas Culpeper recommended the seeds for inflammations, gout, hemorrhoids, and sore nipples (mastitis) in nursing mothers.

European physicians eventually adopted psyllium, but it was not widely used on this side of the Atlantic until after World War I. Today, psyllium is one of North America's most popular bulk-forming laxatives—the active ingredient in Metamucil, Fiberall, Hydrocil, Naturacil, Effersyllium, Prolax, and V-Lax.

Up to 30 percent of psyllium's seed coat is water-absorbing substance called musilage. When exposed to water, psyllium seeds swell to more than ten times their original size and become gelatinous. The herb's mucilage accounts for its use in treating both diarrhea and constipation.

Psyllium's bulk-forming action increases stool volume. Larger stools press on the colon wall, riggering the wavelike contractions (peristalsis) we recognize as "the urge." Some cases of constipation also involve hard, dense stools, which are painful to pass. Psyllium's water-absorbing action decreases stool density and helps lubricate its passage. Studies show a teaspoon of psyllium seeds thre times a day usually produces significant relief.

Psyllium also provides some relief from the pain, bleeding, and itching of hemorrhoids, according to a report in Diseases of the Colon and Rectum, thus supporting Culpeper's recommendation.

But the big news is that psyllium may reduce cholesterol. People taking a teaspoon three times a day for eight weeks experience significant decreases in blood cholesterol levels, according to a study in Archives of Internal Medicine. The researchers concluded cholesterol may be able to benefit from the cholesterol-lowering action of psyllium and avoid taking prescription cholesterol-lowering medications.

A similar 12-week study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows psyllium reduces cholesterol by 5 percent. Heart disease authorities say that for every 1 percent decrease in cholesterol, heart attack risk drops 2 percent. So this 5 percent cholesterol reduction means a 10 percent decrease in heart attack risk.

Psyllium is also safer than the prescription drugs typically prescribed to reduce cholesterol. If you are taking such medication, ask your physician about using the seeds as a substitute for or in conjunction with your current treatment.

One study showed psyllium protects experimental animals from intestinal damage from toxic food additives. The psyllium increases the bulk of the animal's stools, so the toxic chemicals have less direct contact with sensitive intestinal tissues and less opportunity to cause harm. Researchers believe this same mechanism explains why high-fiber diet is associated with reduced ris of colorectal cancer. No studies show that psyllium helps prevent this cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths among nonsmokers, but the American Cancer Society recommends a diet high in fibers such as psyllium to possibly help prevent cancer.

As a laxayive, cholesterol cutter, and possible cancer preventive, psyllium does not work by itself. The seeds swell only in the presence of water. if you take psyllium but dont drink more water, you could wind up like the man whose intestine became completely blocked by a large psyllium plug. He required abdominal surgery.

for educational purposes only

This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

please be advised:  Before making any changes to your diet you should always consult with your doctor, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or have existing conditions.

All reviews solely reflect the views and opinions expressed by the reviewer and not that of Monterey Bay Herb Co. We do not verify or endorse any claims made by any reviewer. None of these statements have been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.