Psyllium Common Name
India controls world supply of Isabol, a
natural food that is cooling, soothing, softening, prevents acidity, heart attacks and constipation, and non-addictive to boot.
From high-fiber breakfast cereals, breads and ice cream to medicines, isabgol is now a popular ingredient with food product designers.
In 2007-08 India exported 24 mn kg isabgol, worth about $70 million. That is a 100% increase in value in two years. Exports are growing 15% every
year, as it grows almost exclusively in India.
Psyllium Common Name
Botanical Name : : PLANTAGO OVATA HUSK
Family Name: : PLANTAGINACEAE
English Name: : Spage Seed
Sanskrit Isabgolam, Snigdhbijam
Other Names PSYLLIUM HUSK, PSYLLIUM SEEDS,
PLANTAGO, ISPAGHULA, FLEAM,
It is indigenous to the Mediterranean region and West Asia. It has been introduced in India and cultivated specially in Gujarat and some parts of Rajasthan.
Now India dominates the world market in the production and export of psyllium.
Isabgol (Plantago ovata) is an annual herb that grows to a height of 12 to 18 in.
Leaves are born alternately opposite, linear or linear lanceolate on the stem. The seeds are enclosed in
capsules that open at maturity. Seeds are translucent and concavo-covex.Isagol. The root system has a
well developed tap root with few fibrous secondary roots. A large number of
flowering shoots arise from the base of the plant. Flowers are numerous, small,
and white. Plants flower about 60 days after planting.
Climate and Soil
It is an irrigated crop which grows well on light soils, soil with poor drainage is not conducive for good growth of this crop. A
silty-loam soil having a soil pH from 4.7 to 7.7 with high nitrogen and low moisture content is ideal for growth of plants and high yield of seeds.
Isabgol thrives well in warm- temperate regions. It requires cool and dry weather & is sown during winter months. Sowing during first
week of November gives best yields. Early sowing makes the crop vulnerable to downy mildew disease, whereas late sowing provides
lesser period of growth in winter along with possibility of shattering of seed due to summer rains in April-May. At maturity, if
the weather is humid, its seeds shatter resulting reduction in yield. Heavy dew or even a light shower will proportionately decrease the yield, at times leading to even total loss of the crop.
The temperature requirement for maximum seed germination is reportedto be 20 to 300C.
Seed Preparation and Germination
Field must be free of weeds and clods. The number of
ploughings, harrowing and hoeing depend upon the soil conditions, previous crop
and degree of weed infestation. About 10-15 tonnes of FYM per hectare is mixed into the soil at the time of last ploughing. The field should be divided into suitable plots of convenient size,
depending upon the texture of the soil, the slope of the field and quantum of irrigation. For light soil with even contour, plot size of 8.0 m x 3.0 m will be convenient.
To obtain high percentage of germination, seed should be taken from the crop harvested at the end of the preceding crop season. Old
seeds tend to lose viability under ordinary storage conditions. Seed at the rate of 4-8 kg per hectare is sown after treating it with any
mercurial seed-dresser at the rate of 3 g/kg of seed, to protect the seedlings from the possible attack of damping off.
The seeds are small and light. Hence before sowing, the seed is mixed with sufficient quantity of fine sand or sieved farmyard
manure. The seeds are broadcasted because sowing in lines at different spacing does not increase the seed yield. After
broadcasting, seeds are swept lightly with a broom to cover them with some soil. Broom however, should be swept in one direction only, to avoid deep burial of the seed for uniform germination.
The sowing should immediately be followed by irrigation. Germination
begins in four days after sowing. If delayed, it should be stimulated by another
watering. Periodical weeding and hoeing is required.
Immediately after sowing, light irrigation is essential. First
irrigation should be given with light flow or shower of water otherwise, with fast current of water most of the seeds will be swept to one side of the plot and the germination and distribution
will not be uniform. The seeds germinate in 6-7 days. If the germination is poor, second irrigation should be given. Later on irrigations are given as and when required. Last irrigation should
be given at the time when maximum number of spikes shoots up. The crop requires totally 6-7 irrigations for its good productivity in
medium sandy soils.
HARVESTING/POST HARVESTING OPERATION
Blooming begins two months after sowing and the crop become ready
for harvest in February- March (110-130 days after sowing). mature, the crop turn yellowish and the spikes turn brownish.
The seeds are shed when the spikes are pressed even slightly. At the time of harvest, the atmosphere must be dry and there should be no moisture on the
plant (nearly after noon), harvesting will lead to considerable seed shattering.
Diseases of Isabgol
Plantago wilt Fusarium oxyspirum and downy mildew are the major diseases of Isabgol.
MANURES, FERTILISERS AND PESTICIDES
The medicinal plants have to be grown without chemical fertilizers
and use of pesticides. Organic manures like, Farm Yard Manure (FYM),
Vermi-Compost, Green Manure etc. may be used as per requirement of the species. To prevent diseases, bio-pesticides could be prepared (either single or mixture) from Neem (kernel, seeds & leaves),
Chitrakmool, Dhatura, Cow's urine etc.
Psyllium is used in the treatment of a
variety of health conditions. It is an effective ingredient to lower
cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease. Psyllium is used in treating:
Bleeding hemorrhoids, Boils, Bronchitis, Colon cancer,
Crohn's Disease, Dysentery, Gallstones, High blood pressure,
Incontinence, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Poison ivy rash,
Psoriasis, Stings and insect bites and Ulcers
It is Diuretic, Emollient and Cooling. Used in inflamatory
conditions of mucous memberane of gastro intestinal and genitourinary
tracts. Very well known as a laxative. It restores proper bowel movements and ued in treatment of chronic constipation, amoebic and bucillary
dysentary. Psyllium husk and seeds are formal Pharmacopoeia.
Psyllium is a common ingredient in many constipation products, since it is a high source of fiber and it acts as a
bulk- forming laxative. It helps increase the volume of fecal matter, which stimulates a reflex contraction of the bowel walls
that helps the stool pass smoothly.
Studies suggest that the various constituents of psyllium (such as
soluble fibers, linoleic acid, and alkaloids) can help lower blood sugar levels.
Psyllium's properties help to soak up a significant amount of excess
water in the digestive tract and make stool firmer. Therefore, it is an
effective natural remedy for diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
and inflammatory bowel disease.
Psyllium helps to soften stool and an effective way to reduce the pain and discomfort associated with hemorrhoids.
Reduce high Cholesterol
The high levels of soluble fiber and linoleic acid in Psyllium stimulate the production of
cholesterol-lowering bile acids and reduce the amount of cholesterol
absorption by the body.
Dietitians believe that incorporating psyllium and other sources of
fiber into the diet can help people lose weight faster.
Psyllium mucilage a dietary fiber for animals
Psyllium mucilage is also used as a natural dietary fiber for animals. The dehusked seed that remains after the seed
coat is milled off is rich in starch and fatty acids and is used in India as chicken feed and as cattle feed.
As a thickener, it has been used in ice cream and frozen desserts.
Technical grade psyllium has been used as a hydrocolloidal agent to improve water retention for newly seeded grass areas and to improve transplanting success with woody plants.
Gujarat Isabgol-1, variety yields 800-900 kg of seeds per
hectare. The new variety 'Gujarat Isabgol-2' has a potential to yield 1,000 kg of seeds per hectare.
India’s isabgol farms are spread over 55,000 acres in Gujarat and
Rajasthan. Farmers in Madhya Pradesh are catching on. From about 97 mn kg isabgol seed, two dozen companies manufacture husk. It is sold in grades according to purity and mesh size. Psyllium dust - called
Kha Kha powder - is used industrially.
India is the largest producer of isabgol and exports seed and
huskworth Rs 25 million annually. The husk is the rosey- white membranous
covering of the seed which constitutes the drug and is given as a safe
laxative, particularly beneficial in habitual constipation, chronic diarrhoea and dysentery.
The United States is the world's largest importer of psyllium "husk" with over
60% of total imports going to pharmaceutical firms for use in products such as
"Metamucil", "Effersyllium" and "Fiberall". P&G, which makes
Metamucil, is India’s single largest customer. Due to awareness about isabgol, demand
is pouring in from Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, Germany, Japan, Pakistan, Spain and UK. Last year Organic India exported 500 t
isabgol. This year he expects sales to jump with the introduction of online delivery. The company has contracted farmers in Rajasthan to grow organic
Expenditure per ha. Rs. 25,000/-
Return per ha. Rs.63000/-
Net income Rs.38000/- (YEAR-2001)
Note: Market for medicinal plants is volatile and the economics may vary.
Psyllium doesn't have any known side effects if consumed moderately with
plenty of water. However, some people may be allergic to psyllium, such as rash, hives, itchiness or swollen skin. In that
case they should stop the use of Psyllium husk and consult the physician.
Recent study shows that use in high fiber breakfast cereals
containing psyllium are effective in reducing cholesterol. Several studies point to a
cholesterol reduction attributed to a diet that includes dietary fiber such as
psyllium. Research also indicates that psyllium incorporated into food products is more effective at reducing blood glucose response than
use of a soluble fiber supplement that is separate from the food.
1. Lantner, R.R., B. Espiritu, P. Zumerchik, M. Tobin. 1990.
"Anaphylaxis following ingestion of a psyllium-containing
cereal." J.A.M.A.J. Am. Med. Assoc.
2. Chan, J.K.C. and V. Wypyszyk. 1988. A forgotten natural dietary fiber: psyllium mucilloid. Cereal Foods World
3. Anderson, J.R., K. Bukhave, L. Hojgaard, J. Rasmussen, N.
Hermansen, H. Worning and E. Krag 1988. Decomposition of wheat bran and isabgol husk in the stomach and small intestine of healthy men. J.
4. Mathur, D.P., B. Rangarajan, V. Gupta. 1990. Psyllium production and marketing in India. New Delhi: Oxford and IBH Pub. Co.
5. Modi, S.M., K. Mehta, and R. Gupta. 1974. Isabgol, a dollar earner of North Gujarat. Indian Farming
6. Jain, Manoj Kumar,1976. Psyllium. Ahmedabad, India
7. Samra, J.S. and B. Gill. 1986. Seed yield of Isabgol as influenced by doses and sources of nitrogen. J. Res. Punjab Agric. Univ.
8. Gupta, R. 1982. Recent advances in cultivation of Isabgol
(Plantago ovata Forsk.) in India.
9. Czarnecki, M. and L. Golez. 1987. Influence of mineral fertilization on yield and nutrient absorption in Plantago psyllium L. Herba Pol
10. Rubis, D.D. 1990. Personal communique in regard to Plantago and