Isabgol (Psyllium Husk): Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Botanical name

Plantago ovata

Isabgol is commonly known as Psyllium husk. It acts as a wetting agent that increases the stomach’s bulk density to help increase the stool and thereby promote laxation. Isabgol seeds are sweet, mucilaginous, laxative, astringent, anti-inflammatory, expectorant, and it is a perfect tonic for the stomach. It is an annual dwarf herb that can grow up to the height of 40 cm. If we go by the actual meaning of Isabgol, that is “Isap” and “ghol,” which means horse ear, the shape of Isabgol seed.

Isabgol is cultivated in India’s cool and dry places due to the extreme water-absorbing property of seed husk. Isabgol plant has narrow and long leaves, which contains 30% insoluble and 70% soluble fiber. The crust, plant, and seed all together are referred to be “Psyllium.” Psyllium is a concentrated source of soluble fiber, and it is separated from the psyllium seed by milling, which is a mechanical process. The main product of Isabgul is Psyllium husk. 

Source of Isabgol

Isabgol is mostly grown in different parts of the world. It is native to West Asia and extended till Sindh in Pakistan. In India, it is mainly cultivated in states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, and Rajasthan. Rajasthan and Gujarat from India are most suitable for growing Isabgul as a cash crop since the climate is very cool and dry, good for its cultivation. Isabgol is cultivated in the “Rabi” season, which comes after the rainy season.

Other Names for Isabgol

  • In Sanskrit, it is known as Ashwakarna, Sheetabeeja, Ashwagol, Ashwakarnabeeja, Ishadgola, Snigdhajeeraka, Ishrawarabola.
  • In Hindi, it is known as Isabgul, Isabgol, Ispaghul, Issufgul, Isubgol.
  • In Marathi, it is known as Isapghol, Isabgola.
  • It is known as Psyllium, Ispaghula, Blond Psyllium, Ripple Gras, and Spogel Seeds in English.
  • In Kannada, it is known as Isabakolu, Visamagolu, Isofgolu, issabagolu.
  • In Tamil, it is known as Ishappukol, Isphagol, Iskolvirai, Ishappukolvirai Iskol. 
  • In Telugu, it is known as Isphagula, Isapagala, Isapgaluvittulu. 
  • In Malayalam, it is known as Ispaghal, Snigddhajirakam, Karkatasringi.

Nutritional facts of Isabgol

The nutritional facts of Isabgol or Psyllium husk powder are given below,

ComponentsContent per 100 g
Protein5 g
Total carbohydrates75 g
Fat6 g
Sugars 30 g
Potassium 260 mg
Sodium282 mg
Calcium2 mg
Iron50 mg
Saturated fats2.5 g

Psyllium husk is a rich hemicellulose source, mainly composed of a Xylan as a backbone linked with subgroups like arabinoxylans arabinose and rhamnose. The seed husk is composed of 65% insoluble and 35% soluble polysaccharides. Mucilaginous biopolymers and Gums extracted from the Psyllium seed husk is used in pharmaceutical preparations as a thickening agent, gelling agent, and stabilizer. 

Medicinal benefits of Isabgol

1: Isabgol and its benefits in Cholesterol management

Isabgol can easily bind to bile acids and fats, further facilitating their easy excretion from the body. During this process, when the bile is getting excreted from the body, the liver uses excess cholesterol to produce the same amount of bile. That is how the cholesterol level decreases. There is scientific evidence showing that 6 g of Isabgol for 6 weeks can reduce LDL cholesterol level by 6% of its original content. Isabgol can also help to increase HDL cholesterol levels in the body.

2: Isabgol and its benefits in maintaining heart health

It is well known that all types of fiber are good for the heart. The American Heart Association (AHA) states that dietary fiber intake helps manage good and bad cholesterol in the body, which will directly impact reducing the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and obesity. There are scientific studies that show that intake of Isabgol in diet can reduce triglycerides in the body for avoiding the risk of stroke. The scientific studies showed that the intake of 10.2 g of Isabgol per day could effectively reduce LDL cholesterol.

3: Isabgol benefits in constipation

Isabgol is known for its laxative property. It is a bulking agent that increases the stool size-weight and thereby helps in relieving constipation. Isabgol, when dispersed into any liquid food, it produces multivalent ions, which electrostatically binds to the partially digested food which passes from the stomach to the small intestine. Isabgol has a powerful water-absorbing property that can further help in increasing the moisture and weight of stool. This results in easier passing of stools. There is scientific evidence that Isabgol soluble fiber is more effective than the wheat bran’s insoluble fiber. The intake of 5.1g of Isabgol two times a day at least two weeks can help improve bowel movements.

4: Diarrhea and Isabgol relation

The scientific literature shows that intake of Isabgol regularly can help relieve diarrhea by increasing the thickness of stool, which can slow down it’s passing through the colon. In the case of patients suffering from lactulose-induced diarrhea, the intake of 3.5 g Isabgol three times daily can improve their stomach emptying time. This, therefore, helps to reduce diarrhea and normalize bowel movements.

5: Use of Isabgol in management of Blood sugar level

It is well known that fiber intake can help control the body’s glycemic response towards a meal, which facilitates the reduction of insulin and blood sugar levels. Also, the well-known water-absorbing property of Isabgol can help form a gel in the stomach, which can slow down the digestion process and regulate blood sugar levels. A scientific study showed that intake of 10g of Isabgol two times a day could reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes. 

6: Role of Isabgol in Satiety and weight loss

All fibers have the property to form a viscous fluid, which will help control weight loss and satiety. One more mechanism of controlling weight gain is by slowing down stomach emptying and reducing appetite, which controls calorie intake by the body. Isabgol supplements can easily fit into this need. The desire for food and hunger can be reduced when one can take up to 10g of Isabgol before breakfast and lunch. Isabgol supplements can also help in the management of fat and body mass index.

7: Isabgol as a Prebiotic

Prebiotics are compounds that are mostly indigestible but helps in promoting the growth of intestinal bacteria or probiotics. Scientific reports are stating that Isabgol has prebiotic properties. The part of Isabgol is fermentable, and short-chain fatty acids like butyrate are the product of it. This short-chain fatty acid is known to possess excellent health benefits.

The recommended dosage of Isabgol

There are two different forms of Isabgol supplements available in local markets: Capsules and Isabgol husk powder, and their dosages vary according to variants. The different forms of Isabgol products and their dosages are as follows:

ProductPreparationDosage/ Day
Husk powder1 – 2 teaspoons of Isabgol powder can be taken with an excess of water before meals.2 times
Capsule1 – 2 capsules of Isabgol can be taken with an excess of water before meals.2 times

Precautions While Using Isabgol

It is recommended to avoid overconsumption of Isabgol. This may lead to cause in abdominal pain, diarrhea, and loose stools.

Side effects of Isabgol

Isabgol may cause a respiratory disorder.

Some reports show that Isabgol intake may relate to allergies, problems in breathing, and itching. There are some indications of bronchial distress after inhalation of fumes of Isabgol.

Isabgol may cause bloating.

The excess intake of Isabgol causes difficulties in gas passing through the gastrointestinal tract and rectum, which further causes bloating and problems in gas retention. 

Isabgol may cause Choking.

It is recommended to take excess water along with Isabgol. Without water, if Isabgol swallows, that can lead to choking. 

FAQs

What is the right time to take Isabgol?

It is well known that Isabgol has a laxative property; therefore, it can be taken after a meal at night to correct constipation.

Can I take Isabgol during loose motions?

Yes, it can be taken during loose motion issues. Isabgol has excellent anti-diarrheal property, and thus it retards the growth of non-important bacteria in the intestine, which are responsible for loose motions.

Can I take Isabgol during pregnancy?

It is not very clear whether it should be taken during pregnancy due to a lack of scientific evidence, and in this situation, it is advised to consult the family doctor.

Can I take Isabgol daily?

Yes, Isabgol can help in digestion and relieve constipation as well if Anyone facing a digestion problem can consume it daily.

Read more about: Health Benefits of Amla

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.