A relative of our common Broadleaved and Ribwort plantains, Psyllium seed derives from either Plantago psyllium or Plantago ovata, both species that are at home in hotter climes. Plantago psyllium is usually dark coloured and is grown in France and Spain, while the lighter Psyllium seed (known as Blonde Psyllium) is derived from P. ovata and is most commonly grown in India. Psyllium seeds and their husks are traditionally valued as a source of soluble plant fibre and the rich mucilage content, which is highest in the husks of P.ovata. Psyllium husks have long been used to produce non-toxic bulk laxatives and have recently made an appearance as an ingredient of high fibre cereals. As Psyllium husks are virtually taste free, they have also sometimes been used as a thickening agent for sauces.
Psyllium has the ability to bulk up by 10 times its mass, which makes them a great bulking laxative. Due to its exceptional bulking ability the dose is much smaller than for other bulking agents such as Oatbran. Psyllium produces a large amount of mucilage, which can absorb toxins as well as excess liquids from the bowels and thus aid elimination. Therefore, Psyllium can be used not only in cases of constipation, but also for diarrhoea. However, it is very important to ensure an adequate amount of liquid is taken with the Psyllium seed in order to avoid blockages. Psyllium seed may also be helpful in cases of inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome and haemorrhoids. Scientific studies have shown Psyllium to reduce cholesterol. In herbal medicine a Psyllium tea can also be given for inflammation of the urinary tract or externally, applied as a plaster with other healing herbs to treat abscesses and boils.
Psyllium seed may be used for protection against evil spirits, witches and vampires. If pursued by such evil beings one should cast tiny seeds such as Psyllium or Poppy over the shoulder without looking back. This distracts the evil spirit in pursuit and compels him to stop and count the seeds. But as evil spirits are not very good at counting or concentrating, he keeps loosing track and has to start over and over again. Before long he forgets his original chase.