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Psyllium has many uses, including as a dietary fiber supplement for people who suffer from constipation. Using psyllium for constipation is considered one of the best natural remedies, whether it comes from the backyard or the drugstore. It is important that you use psyllium correctly, because if the product is used too frequently in large quantities or if too little water is taken with it, you could end up with even worse constipation. If you are using psyllium to treat constipation and grew it yourself, no more than one teaspoon (5 g) should be sprinkled on a serving of food, but that amount can be used per meal per day. If you are purchasing a constipation remedy from the drugstore, be sure to follow the directions that are on the label.
One of the most commonly used herbal treatments is the use of psyllium for constipation. Many people who believe that herbal remedies are pseudo-science use psyllium for constipation, even if they don't know it, because almost every over-the-counter fiber supplement that is meant to relieve constipation uses psyllium as its main ingredient. Many breakfast cereals also use psyllium husks as a source of fiber. The plant, Plantago afra, is native to India but can be grown in many other parts of the world, and the seeds can be eaten on salads or yogurt. The nutty-tasting seeds also can be ground and mixed into batters.
The benefits of taking psyllium for constipation are possible because it introduces water-holding bulk to the stool, and it actually helps soothe diarrhea for the same reason. The mucilage of the psyllium husk acts like a lubricant in the digestive tract while it swells to hold several times its own weight in water. For this very reason, it is important to take the recommended amount of water with it, because the husk will take water from wherever it can. This trait is why it also is helpful if you have diarrhea. The husk absorbs the excess water in the intestines and, by doing so, it adds bulk to the stool and relieves the cramping associated with diarrhea.
Psyllium also can be used in gluten-free baking to help the finished product retain moisture. Other benefits that scientist have noticed and have begun to study include the possibility that it helps regulate the blood sugar of diabetics. It also seems to sweep away cholesterol from the bloodstream.
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