For centuries, traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic (Hindu) physicians have used psyllium to treat diarrhea, constipation, hemorrhoids and urinary problems. The ground-up seeds, rich in fiber, make a safe, gentle, bulk-forming laxative and are the active ingredient in many commercial laxative products. Both diarrhea and constipation may be treated, because the herb absorbs excess fluid in the intestinal tract and increases stool volume. Recently it has been suggested that psyllium may help prevent heart disease by clearing excess cholesterol from the body. This 18-inch-tall herb produces white flowers and abundant, small, brown seed pods.
Over the counter:
Psyllium is available as whole seeds, ground or powdered seeds, and in various commercial bulk-forming laxative preparations.
Drink: 1 tsp. ground seeds or powder mixed in 1 cup cool liquid.
Seeds: 1 tsp. seeds taken with water at mealtimes.