Psyllium is the name used for several members of the plant genus Plantago (which contains over 200 species). The seeds are often used commercially in the production of mucilage.
Psyllium is commercially produced in many different European countries, including Pakistan, India, and the former Soviet Union. India ranks first in the world for the production and export of psyllium.
The interest in psyllium has increased lately due to its use in high-fiber breakfast cereal. It is believed to be effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels and many studies show it to be very helpful in improving health when combined with a high-fiber diet. Psyllium as also been shown to reduce blood glucose response.
Psyllium is mainly used because of the high mucilage content, which is a colorless, clear, gelling agent coming from plants. It works well as a dietary fiber and isn’t absorbed by the small intestine. Psyllium absorbs excess water, stimulates normal bowel elimination, and is used primarily as a laxative.
Guess who the largest importer of psyllium husk is? The United States. Over 60% of the psyllium imported into the U.S. goes to supplement manufacturers and is used in products such as Metamucil, Bonvit, and Fybogel.
The United States imports about 8,000 tons of psyllium each year and this trend appears to be on the rise due to the increasing popularity of dietary supplements.
Another interesting fact that many don’t know about psyllium is the fact that is also used in ice cream and frozen desserts due to the thickening properties it possesses.