Laxative Effect -
Most dietary fibre sources promote laxation by increasing colonic contents, which stimulates propulsion. Unfermented or incompletely fermented fibre and the accompanying moisture it holds are two contributors to this increased stool mass (1). Slowly or incompletely fermented fibres also contribute to stool weight by providing substrate for microbial growth. The greater bacterial mass and accompanying water further increase stool weight (2,3). In most studies, the additional stool mass produced by consumption of more dietary fibre contains the same proportion of moisture as do low-fibre stools (4).
Psyllium seed husk is a partially fermented dietary fibre from Plantago ovata that increases stool weight and promotes laxation by its presence in stool and by increasing the moisture content of stool (5-8). In a study by Cummings et al (2000), they proposed that the unfermented gel isolated from psyllium containing stools functions as an emollient and lubricant. The greater ease of passage, gentleness, and softness reported by the subjects and the isolation of a very viscous fraction supports this hypothesis.
All studies involving psyllium report increases in wet and dry stool weights both in healthy subjects (5-8, 9-11) and in subjects with gastrointestinal disease (12-17). Psyllium appears to increase stool mass more effectively than do other common laxative fibre sources. In the Cummings study , each gram of psyllium seed husk increased stool weight an average of 5.9 gms, compared with 4.9-5.4 gms for wheat bran fibre and 3.4-4.5 gms for oat bran fibre (1,3).
Cholesterol lowering -
Consumption of viscous soluble fibres significantly lowers serum total and LDL cholesterol concentrations (18,19), and may provide an alternative to drug therapy for some patients (20-22). Of the viscous soluble fibres, psyllium husk fibre appears to be one of the most effective (23,24) with the least adverse effects (25).
Short term placebo-controlled studies showed that consumption of 7-10 gms psyllium/day lowers serum total cholesterol concentrations 4-11% and serum LDL cholesterol concentrations 6-18% below placebo control concentrations (19-23, 26-31). The mechanism of action of psyllium's hypocholesterolemic effects has not been fully elucidated. Psyllium was shown to stimulate bile acid synthesis ( 7 alpha hydroxylase activity) in animal models (32,33) and in humans (27), which leads to reduction of serum cholesterol. Additional mechanisms, such as inhibition of hepatic cholesterol synthesis by propionate (34) and secondary effects of slowing glucose absorption (35) may also play a role.
Other soluble fibre sources, such as guar gum (36), locust bean gum (37), pectin (38), oat bran 39), and legumes (40), have also been reported to decrease serum total and LDL cholesterol concentrations. However the practical uses for many of these fibres are limited by a lack of palatable forms (28). In a study in which the effects of 10 different fibres were compared in rats, psyllium fed rats had the lowest serum and liver cholesterol concentrations (24).
Anticarcinogenic effect -
Ingestion of prebiotics (non-digestible food ingredient that selectively stimulates bacteria in the colon) results in a different spectrum of fermentation products, including the production of high concentrations of short chain fatty acids, leading to a decrease in pH. A low pH in faeces was associated with a reduced incidence of colon cancer in various populations (41,42).
Butyrate is associated with many biological properties in the colon (43). One of the first observed effects of butyrate on the degree of DNA methylation is probably associated with modified gene expression, the consequences of which are yet unknown, particularly in relation to colon cancer. However, butyrate may also directly enhance cell proliferation in normal cells and suppress proliferation in transformed cells by improving cell differentiation. This is an important step in suppressing cancer cells. In addition, apoptoses may be increased in transformed cells but inhibited in normal cells when butyrate is present (44-46).
Colon cancer, which in a high proportion of the population is due to somatic mutations occurring during the lifetime of an individual, could be retarded by preventing these mutations. Prebiotics have been shown to deactivate genotoxic carcinogens. DNA damage had been prevented and chemopreventive systems may be stimulated in vivo in colon tissues.
Intestinal Health -
The colon of the human gastrointestinal tract contains a large population of resident bacteria. In fact, approximately 55% of the solids in faeces is microbial biomass. In adults, these bacteria are balanced in a complex ecosystem consisting of more than 40 major species and more than 400 species in total (47).
In a healthy individual, most of these species are advantageous or benign to the host, but some are potentially pathogenic if their numbers are allowed to increase to high levels. Disturbances to the ecological balance in the intestinal microflora caused by, for example, changes in diet, stress or antibiotic treatment can lead to the overgrowth of deleterious bacteria, and subsequently to gastrointestinal disorders (48). These disorders may be as minor as intestinal discomfort or increased flatulence, or relative serious health problems such as severe diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis. Undesirable bacteria in the colon have even been implicated in the development of colon cancer (49).
Oligofructose, derived from a plant source (usually chicory) consists of fructose chains of up to several units. It is a resistant starch, or soluble dietary fibre, that is not absorbed in the small intestine and passes into the large intestine where it is partly fermented, producing an energy value of 6 - 8 kilojoules/gm.
Carbohydrates are normally absorbed in the small intestine and directly metabolised in the liver, generating 17 kilojoules/gm. Complex fibres produce little or no energy and are broken down by bacteria to some degree in the large intestine.
Resistant starches are neither fibres or complex carbohydrates, and were for many years a dilemma for the Food Authorities. They are now recognised under the carbohydrate banner and are listed on nutritional panels as soluble dietary fibre.
Oligofructose is a tremendous substrate for bifidus bacteria, stimulating its activity by several hundred percent. This is called prebiotic activity, referring to stimulation of health promoting bacteria in the intestinal tract. Short chain fatty acids are produced, lowering pH levels and providing an energy source for the growth and maintenance of large intestine cells. This process leads to differentiation of cancer cells, a vital step that is required before cancer cells can be killed.
The ideal environment for healthy bacteria is quite different to the environment preferred by pathogens and gram negative putrefactive bacteria. Consequently the undesirable bacteria diminish in number as the healthy bacteria proliferate in the presence of oligofructose.
One type of undesirable bacteria are faecal bacteria that thrive in the presence of unabsorbed iron. This leads to the production of oxygen radicals that are known to damage protein, lipids and DNA. This damage has been implicated in the induction of somatic cell mutations that may favour the development of several forms of cancer (50).
There is some limited evidence that habitual intake of dietary fibre may suppress the production of reactive oxygen species (51).
A colon high in faecal iron levels would benefit substantially from
oligofructose consumption, creating an environment unfavourable for the growth of iron loving bacteria. The microflora balance would gradually shift from the putrefactive to the healthy, increasing the growth of probiotic bacteria such as lactobacillus, bifidus, acidophilus and enterococcus.
Moreover, probiotics might prevent infection because they compete with pathogenic viruses or bacteria for binding sites on epithelial cells (52). Diarrhea due to the growth of pathogenic bacteria is the most common side effect of antibiotic use. Probiotics might inhibit this growth by releasing inhibitory substances, as indeed has been shown in vitro by some strains (53).
Desirable bacterial numbers can also be increased by consuming cultured products such as yoghurt but in many cases they are not very effective because many bacteria are destroyed in the stomach and small intestine. Upon reaching the colon or large intestine the surviving bacteria are often present is such low numbers that any likely benefit is doubtful. This especially happens with commercial
yoghurt that has a shelf life of several weeks, with bacterial numbers possibly already low before consumption. Yoghurt manufacturers have addressed the problem by including oligofructose in the yoghurt so that surviving bacteria are rejuvenated once they reach the colon.
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17. Cheskin LJ, Kamal N, Crowell MD, Schuster MM. Mechanisms of constipation in older persons and effects of fibre compared with placebo. J Am Geriatr Soc 1995;43:666-9.
18. Anderson JW. Dietary fibre, complex carbohydrate and coronary artery disease. Can J Cardiol 1995;11(suppl):55G-62G.
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29. Stoy DB, LaRosa JC, Brewer BK, et al. Cholesterol-lowering effects of ready-to-eat cereal containing psyllium. J Am Diet Assoc 1993;93:910-2.
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For thousands of years this Ispagula Husk
has provided relief for many ailments involving the intestinal system.
So, if any one not familiar with this term “Ispagula Husk”, then the
first question will be arises, what is Ispagula Husk?
It is the epidermis and the collapsed
layers removed from the dried ripe seeds of Plantago ovata Forssk.(Fam:
Plantaginaceac). The plant is a herbaceous annual indigenous to the
Indian subcontinent and Iran. Ispagula Husk contains mucilage and
hemicelluloses. Cold water extraction yields a polysaccharide which on
hydrolysis yields D-xylose(46%), L-arabinose(7%) and the aldobiouronic
acid(40%). Subsequent extraction with hot water removes a xylum
composed of D-xylose(80%) and L-arabinose(14%). It looks pale buff
brittle flakes, more or less lanceolate, up to 2 mm long and 1 mm wide
at the centre, much broken into smaller fragments.
For thousands of years this Ispagula
Husk has provided relief for many ailments involving the
intestinal system. So, if any one not familiar with this term
“Ispagula Husk”, then the first question will be arises, what is
It is the
epidermis and the collapsed layers removed from the dried ripe
seeds of Plantago ovata Forssk.(Fam: Plantaginaceac). The plant
is a herbaceous annual indigenous to the Indian subcontinent and
Iran. Ispagula Husk contains mucilage and hemicelluloses. Cold
water extraction yields a polysaccharide which on hydrolysis
yields D-xylose(46%), L-arabinose(7%) and the aldobiouronic
acid(40%). Subsequent extraction with hot water removes a xylum
composed of D-xylose(80%) and L-arabinose(14%). It looks pale
buff brittle flakes, more or less lanceolate, up to 2 mm long
and 1 mm wide at the centre, much broken into smaller fragments.
of Fiber Diet
Fiber is very filling and gives a pleasant satisfied feeling in
the stomach. When a person eats sufficient fiber they normally
experience regular bowel movements. Fiber works in several ways.
Fiber (also called roughage or bulk) promotes the wavelike
contractions that keep food moving through the intestine. Also,
high-fiber foods expand the inside walls of the colon. This
eases the passage of waste. Fibrous substances pass through the
intestine undigested. They also absorb many times their weight
in water, resulting in softer, bulkier stools. Because of this
action, some digestive tract disorders may be avoided, halted,
or even reversed simply by following a high-fiber diet. All this
is an advantage with constipation, diarrhea, IBS and they also
added advantage for those who wish to keep their weight down, or
to lose weight.
Studies show that rural Africans, who eat diets high in fiber,
eliminate food waste in one-third the time it takes people from
urban westernized cultures. Their stools are larger and softer.
Because of the greater bulk and speed of foods through the
digestive tract, it is believed that harmful substances are also
swept out before they can cause problems. In fact, these rural
people have fewer of the digestive tract diseases that plague
Western man. It is thought that this may be related to the
nature of their diet.
Ispagula Husk is the best one in the field of fiber diets?
The effects of this herb are quite astonishing and the work it
does within the body can be felt in a very short period of time.
Here, I will describe the inherited actions of Ispagula Husk on
different organ/diseases that were already established by fiber
It has the property of absorbing
and retaining water and has therefore been used as a bulk
providing medium in the treatment of diarrhea & constipation.
On account of its content of
mucilage, it is effective in heartburn and stomach allergy as
These fibers are unrelated
chemically, however, they all have one thing in common -- they
can't be digested by the human body. For this reason, they can
help correct disorders of the large intestine (colon), and
keep it functioning normally.
It soothes the inflamed and
irritated tissues. Promotes the growth of friendly bacteria in
the colon. Relieves hemorrhoids by reducing irritation of the
It is binds to fat to eliminate
it from the body. So, Ispaghula husk can be used in treating
moderately raised cholesterol levels. Recently, the Indian
Heart Journal published a review of an study, which is
conclude that the Ispaghula husk (psyllium) is nearly as
effective as simvastatin for improving the lipid profile of
hyperlipidemic patients. This inheriting characteristic of the
Ispaghula husk also helps in weight management.
Rapid digestion leads to a rapid
release of glucose (sugar) into the bloodstream. To cope with
this, the body has to release large amounts of insulin into
the bloodstream, and this can make a person more likely to
develop gallstones and kidney stones (in addition to diabetes
and high cholesterol). Additional fiber in the diet will slow
digestion and lessen the effects of insulin.
Moreover, it is found to be
effective on various diseases and also reduces the risk of
heart disease, colon cancer, diverticulitis (defects in the
weakened walls of the colon), colitis, ulcers and irritable
Ispaghula is particularly useful
in those who cannot tolerate bran
Dose: The usual adult dose is 3 to 5 gm. Children may be
given half the adult dose.
Guideline for getting the most from
Never take more than the
Must consult with your doctor or
if you are pregnant, trying
for a baby or breast-feeding
if you find it difficult to
if you are so constipated that
you may be suffering from a blockage
if you have ever had an
allergic reaction to this or any other medicine
if you are taking any other
medicines, including those available to buy without a
prescription, herbal and complementary medicines
Mix Ispaghula granules or powder
with water and take it immediately.
Never take Ispagula Husk just
It is important to drink plenty
of water while you are being treated with Ispaghula. You
should aim to drink at least eight large glasses of water a
contains psyllium seed and husk powders and other natural high-fibre
ingredients. I suggest the use of goat
whey with homemade
yoghurt also, to accomplish beneficial changes in
healthy colon bacteria and to maintain the proper acidic pH levels in the colon.
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