Benefits And Side Effects Of Psyllium Hulls
Before writing off psyllium hulls as just another highly promoted aid to healthy living, it may pay to take a closer look at the plant, its hulls and seeds, to see the many potential benefits offered, plus a look at who should probably not take the supplements due to possible negative side effects.
Psyllium hulls are the seed cover of the Plantago ovata plant, and as each shrub-like plant will produce thousands of seeds, it is not terribly difficult to harvest a fair amount of the hulls from a single plant. Psyllium hulls are best known as an extraordinarily good source of fiber, and since we all know that fiber, especially water-soluble fiber, is good for us, providing a number of health benefits, the sometimes aggressive promotion of supplements containing psyllium hulls or seeds is not unexpected.
As is the case with many supplements, the producer is not always the best source of information, although it must be said that most products on the marked carry the necessary warnings in addition to the hype. In short, fiber is good for us, and psyllium hulls are good for us, having a background as an herbal remedy that extends back through several centuries.
Dehydration And Dosages - Ironically, psyllium hulls are indigestible in humans, but being high in fiber, they absorb water in the digestive system, making the digestive process faster and elimination easier. Psyllium hulls are a common constituent of colon cleansing products. The fact that it absorbs water so easily leads to one of the problems which may be encountered when ingesting it, namely the possibility of dehydration. Side effects of psyllium hulls are relatively rare, but can be quite severe, and those who ingest products based on psyllium hulls are cautioned to drink plenty of water at the same time. In doing so, a number of the possible side effects can be completely avoided.
Another way to avoid unpleasant side effects is to take psyllium hulls in low doses, or at least in doses that do not exceed what is recommended on the label. An excessive dose may cause barely noticeable, and not necessarily unpleasant reactions in some, such as becoming a bit lightheaded, but could cause a severe reaction in others.
Allergies And Diabetes - The most severe side effects appear to occur for those who suffer from allergies, especially allergies to pollen or to melons. This does not apply to all who are allergic to such substances, but those who are should approach psyllium based products with understandable caution. Allergic reactions can sometimes be prevented by starting with very low doses, and stopping at the first sigh of trouble. Of course, if one feels the need for a colon cleanser, there are alternatives, but psyllium seems to be the best choice for most. Diabetics are cautioned against the use of psyllium products, or are advised to monitor blood sugar levels if taking them, as psyllium does markedly reduce blood sugar levels.
Always Read The Labels - The other cautionary notes are rather standard as far as herbal medicines are concerned. Some herbs will react negatively with certain medications, or lessen the effectiveness of certain medications, and with any supplement, all of the ingredients should be noted, as though psyllium may be perfectly safe, there may be an unsafe chemical or compound included in the powder or pills.
For the most part, psyllium hulls, as well as the seeds are generally considered safe and beneficial for the vast majority of people. If we eat all the right foods, supplements are not usually necessary, but for those of us who may lack something in our diets, such as sufficient amounts of fiber, supplements can at times be very useful and helpful.