Psyllium is the husk of the seed of the Plantago and is a top herb used in weight control and for general intestinal health. It contains a spongy fiber that reduces appetite, improves digestion and cleanses the system, making it an excellent choice for healthy dieting. Psyllium can provide the fiber that is missing on low carbohydrate diets.
Psyllium has also been used for irritable bowel syndrome (a stress-related disorder with alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation). Because it will produce easy bowel movements with a loose stool, Psyllium is used by patients with anal fissures (cracks in the skin near the anus) and hemorrhoids and is often recommended following anal or rectal surgery, during pregnancy and as a secondary treatment in certain types of diarrhea.
Psyllium soaks up a significant amount of water in the digestive tract, thereby making stool firmer and, under these circumstances, slower to pass. Psyllium also has the additional advantages over other sources of fiber of reducing flatulence and bloating. It may be recommended by a physician to help soften stool and reduce the pain associated with hemorrhoids.