Psyllium husks have been used as medicine for centuries for a wide range of health conditions. However, they have not been demonstrated to eradicate candida or affect the gut flora in the GI tract. Regardless, psyllium can still be useful in treating candida since ingestion of psyllium husks may ensure daily bowel movements, which is key to maintaining a healthy digestive system as well as being an important component of a candida protocol to mitigate any die-off side effects.
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Psyllium seeds come from the plant Plantago ovata. This tiny shrub can produce around 15,000 tiny seeds per plant. Psyllium husks and seeds act as a bulk laxative, meaning they help to shorten the stool’s transit time through the GI tract. This is mainly accomplished by increasing the water content and weight of the stool, which activates receptors in your gut to stimulate peristalsis, the wave-like muscle contractions that help you have a bowel movement. The husks and seeds contain mucilage, which acts to soothe irritated and inflamed tissue. Psyllium seeds can be purchased with husks, without husks, or you can purchase psyllium husks by themselves without seeds. Plantago ovata leaves have a different medicinal effect than the seeds so make sure you are buying psyllium seeds or husks and not the whole Plantago plant.
As mentioned above, when it comes to candida, any positive benefit derived from consuming psyllium is due to its laxative effect in ensuring toxins from die-off are eliminated properly. A study by Al-Schamma found that psyllium had no effect on eradicating yeast. And while some claim that psyllium helps promote good gut flora, according to a study by Elli, psyllium has no probiotic or prebiotic effect. That being said, there are no known negative interactions between consuming psyllium and being on a candida diet.
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So while psyllium is not directly helpful for candida, it is great for various gastrointestinal and endocrine conditions. Studies by Everson, Chan, Davidson, and Segana found that psyllium seeds, consumed daily, can actually lower cholesterol. And according to a study by Rodiguez-Moran, patients with type 2 diabetes that ingested 5g of psyllium three times a day before meals lowered their fasting blood sugar, LDLs and triglycerides. Another study by Pastors found that regular psyllium ingestion before meals lowered insulin release by 17% in type 2 diabetics. In addition, studies by Wolener and Bergmann demonstrated that ingestion of dried psyllium husks can slow gastric emptying, leading to increased satiety after meals and prolonging hunger for more than 6 hours.
Psyllium has also been found to be helpful for IBS, a catchall diagnosis for GI issues that cannot be explained by another diagnosis. A study by Bijkerk compared psyllium consumption (soluble fiber) and bran (insoluble fiber) in patients with IBS and found that those who consumed psyllium had greater relief of their symptoms whereas those that consumed bran had a worsening of symptoms.
While psyllium is generally regarded as safe, an allergic reaction can occur in rare instances. Also, due to it’s bulky nature, those with difficulty swallowing should not try to ingest psyllium. Since psyllium increases transit time in the bowel, it should not be taken at the same time as other medications. Psyllium ingestion at the same time as medications lowered the amount of medication that was absorbed into the bloodstream, effectively lowering the dose that was received, as demonstrated by studies by Fernanzed and Etman. Taking psyllium a few hours before or after medications can easily prevent this from happening. Again, since psyllium increases transit time, it is not recommended to take it at the same time as a probiotic or supplements, which have a similar absorption to medications.
To incorporate psyllium as a part of your candida protocol, take 1 tablespoon of psyllium seeds or husks in 8 oz of water daily. Letting the seeds or husks soak for several hours prior to ingestion allows the psyllium to become gel-like and better assists the GI tract in digestion as well as reducing inflammation. Psyllium can be taken at any time of the day but it is generally recommended in the morning or at night. Bowel movements can occur 6-12 hours after taking psyllium, so plan accordingly.
Psyllium is available as a whole seed, husk, seed with husk, powder, or in a capsule form. Metamucil, commonly recommended by doctors for constipation and regulating bowel movements, is a fiber supplement made of psyllium husks. However, Metamucil has added sugar to the product so a bulk psyllium would be of more benefit. While psyllium is available as seeds, husks, or powder, since the powder is processed, it may lose a small amount of its mucilaginous effects so the whole seed or husk would be the best form to try. Psyllium seeds and husks seem to work equally well and are sometimes used interchangeably in medicine. Other herbs that act as bulk laxatives include flax seeds (Linum usitatissimum), marshmallow root (Althaea officinale), and slippery elm root (Ulmus fulva). They may be combined with psyllium for encouraging regular bowel movements.
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Psyllium has not been shown to cause a die-off reaction from candida but can help reduce symptoms since it will increase the transit time of bowel movements. If extra support is needed, combining psyllium with bentonite clay and drinking large amounts of water may actually further help mitigate any candida die-off effects. As for long-term use, think of psyllium as another fiber source, like vegetables. There are no problems with taking psyllium daily for long-term use as long as it is taken away from any medications or other supplements.