Psyllium husks and seeds are the seed pods and seeds of the plantain Plantago ovata, which is widely cultivated in India and Pakistan for the use in food products, but also in pharmaceutical products.
Psyllium is an annual plant. Thanks to its popularity as a food ingredient and additive, it has been cultivated in some regions of India and Pakistan for many years. It is harvested once a year and the seeds are sold on local markets. After several steps of mechanical cleaning, the de-husking process begins.
The de-husking process takes place in a closed, automated system with emery mills. The husk is separated from the seed using mechanic pressure. The Psyllium husk is then purified and milled.
Psyllium husk powder is available in various purities and mesh sizes.
Psyllium husks have the capacity to bind 50 times as much water as their weight, have a high mucilage content and are very rich in fibre. Therefore, they are widely used as a swelling agent to regulate bowel function both in cases of constipation and diarrhea . Psyllium husks are believed to be able to lower cholesterol level and can help with weight control thanks to its high dietary fibre content and saturating characteristics.
Psyllium husks are used as a dietary fibre to help with congestion and diarrhea. It is also believed to have a positive effect on inflammatory bowel diseases and to lower cholesterol levels (according to US-FDA). It is widely available in small, individual packages in health shops, health food departments of supermarket and other drugstores. Psyllium husks are also used as a food additive (it does not require an E-number) in gluten-free products, giving them an improved, fluffy and airy texture. In vegan products, Psyllium husks can be used as a plant-based gelling agent and thickener.