Who knew that the crappy topic of colon health would become all the rage in herbal medicine? Late-night television is full of colon cleanse infomercials, and drug stores are selling all sorts of over-the-counter colon detoxification “programs” containing tens of minerals and herbs. But one of the oldest – and strongest – substances used for bowel movement bulking is psyllium husk.
Finding its way into popular fiber supplements but available on its own, psyllium husk provides the ultimate one-herb colon cleanse. Used by doctors for ages in Iran, Pakistan, and India, psyllium husk was once considered a cure-all herb, probably because its ability to cleanse the colon became the genesis for other, secondary claims like clearer skin, headache dissipation, and higher energy levels. As the saying goes, “death begins in the colon,” so a colon cleanse with psyllium husk with help eliminate those toxins from your body.
The Psyllium Plant
Psyllium husk comes from the plantain plant (which is totally different from the banana-esque plantain fruit). Genus Plantago contains several hundred species of closely related plants with similar compositions, but P. psyllium is the variety from which the fiber-fabulous herb derives its common name.
How Does a Psyllium Husk Colon Cleanse Work?
The the husks in which the plant’s seeds are housed are known for their colon cleanse potential. Psyllium husk is a source of water-soluble fiber that swells when mixed with water during the digestive process, with the husk around each seed expanding to several times its initial size. The result is mucilage, a gooey and almost gelatinous substance that bulks up your stool while simultaneously softening it. Psyllium husk’s colon cleanse power derives from the mucilage’s ability to move bowel contents along. Through lubrication and gentle brushing of your intestines, fecal matter gets unstuck and is expelled. Think of psyllium husk like a soft, wet, scrubby sponge for your intestinal walls, which are caked with, for lack of a better way to put it, old crap.
Psyllium husk is not a laxative, though it is sometimes mislabeled as such. Laxatives liquify your stool and sometimes cause almost spastic contractions of intestinal walls, resulting in the rush to the bathroom that products like Ex-Lax are sometimes known for. Unlike laxatives, the fiber-rich plant matter in psyllium husk bulks up your stool allows it to move, solid but lubricated, through your intestines. Psyllium husk ensures that nutrients from digested food are appropriately absorbed and waste is prompty expelled on schedule – within one to two days.
The amount of time that waste matter spends in one’s colon is the key issue to a healthy digestive tract. A colon cleanse with psyllium husk will help bad bacteria and other toxins find their way to your toilet. Although daily bowel movements are healthy, they’re not adequate if you’re expelling waste that has been stuck there for, say, five days before moving on. In other words, the backup of bowel movements is partially about volume amassed but largely about time. Psyllium husk helps your colon restore its regularity.
What to Expect When Doing a Colon Cleanse with Psyllium Husk
Due to the swelling of the psyllium husks once in the digestive tract, some users report a feeling of bloating after the first dose. This is natural and even desirable, given the way psyllium husk’s mucilage properties work. The feeling of bloating usually subsides after the first post-psyllium bowel movement. Unless you have unusual health circumstances (consult your doctor!!), psyllium is considered safe for regular use and can be taken in small doses every day to keep your colon cleansed.
Typically, psyllium comes in either powder form or whole husk form, though it can also be ingested as processed tablets or wafers. The powder and the whole husk are both meant as mix-ins for water or juice. Because psyllium husk is not very palatable, juice may mask the unpleasant taste. Some stores sell flavoured psyllium husk powders, too. And of course, the famous fiber supplement Metamucil contains (surprise): psyllium husk! For first-time detoxification, though, whole psyllium husk is recommended.
Websites for Buying Whole Psyllium Husk