Herbs & Plants


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Botanical NamePlantago psyllium/ Plantago ovata
Family : Plantaginaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Genus: Plantago
Common Names :  Psyllium,ispaghula, isabgol

Habitat : P. ovata is a 119- to 130-day crop that responds well to cool, dry weather. In India, P. ovata is cultivated mainly in North Gujarat as a “Rabi” or post–rainy season crop (October to March). During this season, which follows the monsoons, average temperatures are in the range of 15–30 °C (59–86 °F), and moisture is deficient. Isabgol (P. ovata), which has a moderate water requirement, is given 5 to 6 light irrigations. A very important environmental requirement of this crop is clear, sunny and dry weather preceding harvest. High night temperature and cloudy wet weather close to harvest have a large negative impact on yield. Rainfall on the mature crop may result in shattering and therefore major field losses.The state of Rajasthan in India provides 60% of the world’s production, while the Jalore district alone accounts for 90% of Isabgol production in Rajasthan. Bhinmal agriculture Mandi is declared Isabgol special Mandi. Bhinmal area gives about 2,500 tons per year of Isabgol.

It is cultivated in 50,000 hectares in Mehsana, Banaskantha and Sabarkantha districts of Gujarat and Jalore, Pali, Jodhpur, Barmer, Nagaur and Sirohi districts of Rajasthan.

Plantago ovata is an annual herb that grows to a height of 30–46 cm (12–18 in). Leaves are opposite, linear or linear lanceolate 1 × 19 cm (0.39 × 7.5 in). 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. The seeds are enclosed in capsules that open at maturity.

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The fields are generally irrigated prior to seeding to achieve ideal soil moisture, to enhance seed soil contact, and to avoid burying the seed too deeply as a result of later irrigations or rainfall. Maximum germination occurs at a seeding depth of 6 mm (1/4 in). Emerging seedlings are frost sensitive, therefore planting should be delayed until conditions are expected to remain frost free. Seed is broadcast at 5.5 to 8.25 kg/hectare (5 to 7.5 lb/acre) in India. In Arizona trials, seeding rates of 22 to 27.5 kg/ha (20 to 25 lb/acre) resulted in stands of 1 plant/25mm (1 inch) in 15 cm (6 inch) rows produced excellent yields. Weed control is normally achieved by one or two hand weedings early in the growing season. Control of weeds by pre-plant irrigation that germinates weed seeds followed by shallow tillage may be effective on fields with minimal weed pressure. Psyllium is a poor competitor with most weed species.

Plantago wilt “Fusarium oxyspirum” and downy mildew are the major diseases of Isabgol. White grubs and aphids are the major insect pests.

The flower spikes turn reddish brown at ripening, the lower leaves dry and the upper leaves yellow. The crop is harvested in the morning after the dew is gone to minimize shattering and field losses. In India, mature plants are cut 15 cm above the ground and then bound, left for a few days to dry, thrashed, and winnowing.

Harvested seed must be dried below 12% moisture to allow for cleaning, milling, and storage. Seed stored for future crops has shown a significant loss in viability after 2 years in storage.

The genus Plantago contains over 200 species. P. ovata and P. psyllium are produced commercially in several European countries, the former Soviet Union, Pakistan, and India. Plantago seed, known commercially as black, French, or Spanish psyllium, is obtained from P. psyllium L., also known as P. arenaria. Seed produced from P. ovata is known in trading circles as white or blonde psyllium, Indian plantago, or Isabgol. Isabgol, the common name in Pakistan and India for P. ovata, comes from the Persian words asb and ghol, meaning “horse flower,” which is descriptive of the shape of the seed. India dominates the world market in the production and export of psyllium. Psyllium research and field trials in the U.S. have been conducted mainly in Arizona and Washington state.

Recent interest in psyllium has arisen primarily due to its use as an ingredient in high-fiber breakfast cereals, which is claimed to be effective in reducing blood cholesterol levels in those who consume it. Several studies point to a cholesterol reduction attributed to a diet that includes dietary fiber such as psyllium. Research reported in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concludes that the use of soluble-fiber cereals is an effective and well-tolerated part of a prudent diet for the treatment of mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia. 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. Although the cholesterol-reducing and glycemic-response properties of psyllium-containing foods are fairly well documented, the effect of long-term inclusion of psyllium in the diet has not been determined. Cases of allergic reaction to psyllium-containing cereal have been documented.

: ascorbic acid, aucubin, beta-carotene, beta-sitosterol, calcium, chromium, cobalt, fiber, linoleic acid, magnesium, manganese, mucilage, niacin, oleic acid, oxalic acid, phosphorous, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, sodium, stigmasterol, thiamine, tin, zi

Medicinal Uses:
Common Uses: Cholesterol Control * Constipation * Weight Loss *
Properties: Astringent* Demulcent* Laxative* Antitussive*
Parts Used: Seeds and seed husks

The seeds of the Plantago ovata contain copious amounts of mucilage that are able to treat diarrhea, constipation and act as a safe and effective weight loss aid. Psyllium seed has been used since ancient times, with no ill effects. These seeds and their husks are a great source of natural fiber. The seed has less fiber than the husk but a wide range of nutrients the husks do not. Although it is traditionally used to treat constipation, research shows that psyllium seed reduces high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Exactly how it does isn’t known, but it appears to bind with dietary cholesterol and fat to prevent their absorption.

Credit mother nature for devising a substance that can treat both constipation and diarrhea. The seeds soak up fluids, adding bulk to the stool and inhibiting diarrhea. The same absorption of fluids softens the stool, and the larger volume helps pass it through the colon. This easier action makes this herb a good choice for those suffering from hemorrhoids,inflammatory bowel disease or diverticulitis. By bulking the stool, the seeds also relieve pain caused by ulcerative colitis. Unless you have a desire for sugar, artificial flavors and higher prices, try natural psyllium before turning to one of the name brand products such as Metamucil or Fiberall, or any number of commercial laxatives.

Psyllium is mainly used as a dietary fiber, which is not absorbed by the small intestine. The purely mechanical action of psyllium mucilage absorbs excess water while stimulating normal bowel elimination. Although its main use has been as a laxative, it is more appropriately termed a true dietary fiber and as such can help reduce the symptoms of both constipation and mild diarrhea.

Psyllium is produced mainly for its mucilage content, which is highest in P. ovata. The term mucilage describes a group of clear, colorless, gelling agents derived from plants. The mucilage obtained from psyllium comes from the seed coat. Mucilage is obtained by mechanical milling/grinding of the outer layer of the seed. Mucilage yield amounts to about 25% (by weight) of the total seed yield. Plantago-seed mucilage is often referred to as husk, or psyllium husk. The milled seed mucilage is a white fibrous material that is hydrophilic, meaning that its molecular structure causes it to attract and bind to water. Upon absorbing water, the clear, colorless, mucilaginous gel that forms increases in volume by tenfold or more.

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”. In Australia, psyllium husk is used to make “Bonvit” psyllium products. In the UK, ispaghula husk is used in the popular constipation remedy “Fybogel”. In India, psyllium husk is used to make “Gulab Sat Isabgol” psyllium products. 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.

Psyllium mucilage possesses several other desirable properties. As a thickener, it has been used in ice cream and frozen desserts. A 1.5% weight/volume ratio of psyllium mucilage exhibits binding properties that are superior to a 10% weight/volume ratio of starch mucilage. The viscosity of psyllium mucilage dispersions are relatively unaffected between temperatures of 20 and 50 °C (68 and 122 °F), by pH from 2 to 10 and by salt (sodium chloride) concentrations up to 0.15 M. These physical properties, along with its status as a natural dietary fiber, may lead to increased use of psyllium by the food-processing industry. 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.

It is suggested that the isabgol husk is a suitable carrier for the sustained release of drugs and is also used as a gastroretentive carrier due to its swellable and floatable nature. The mucilage of isabgol is used as a super disintegrant in many formulations.

Adverse Reactions and Warnings:
Possible adverse reactions include allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis, especially among those who have had regular exposure to psyllium dust. Gastrointestinal tract obstruction may occur, especially for those with prior bowel surgeries or anatomic abnormalities, or if taken with inadequate amounts of water.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published that psyllium, among other water soluble gums, have been linked to medical reports of esophageal obstruction (Esophageal_food_bolus_obstruction), choking, and asphyxiation.

Specifically, the FDA reports “Esophageal obstruction and asphyxiation due to orally-administered drug products containing water-soluble gums, hydrophilic gums, and hydrophilic mucilloids as active ingredients are significant health risks when these products are taken without adequate fluid or when they are used by individuals with esophageal narrowing or dysfunction, or with difficulty in swallowing.” and “when marketed in a dry or incompletely hydrated form” are required to have the following warning labels:

“`Choking’ [highlighted in bold type]: Taking this product without adequate fluid may cause it to swell and block your throat or esophagus and may cause choking. Do not take this product if you have difficulty in swallowing. If you experience chest pain, vomiting, or difficulty in swallowing or breathing after taking this product, seek immediate medical attention;” and

“`Directions’ [highlighted in bold type]:” (Select one of the following, as appropriate: “Take” or “Mix”) “this product (child or adult dose) with at least 8 ounces (a full glass) of water or other fluid. Taking this product without enough liquid may cause choking.”

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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Boil and Bubble, Rice is the Trouble

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Refined carbohydrates in white rice and white bread are more harmful than a fatty diet. Hari Pulakkat reports


Cheese burgers are bad for health, nutritionists have always said. Cheese and red meat, according to conventional medical wisdom, are not the healthiest of foods. Current research supports this statement but with a twist. It now turns out that it’s not just the cheese or meat that is the cause of worry but also the bread.

Saturated fat has been implicated in cardiovascular disease for a long time now, and with good reason. Too much fat in the diet increases triglycerides and LDL (low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol), and both raise your chances of falling prey to a heart attack. A fatty diet also reduces HDL (high-density lipoprotein or good cholesterol) levels, and low HDL is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But then if you cut saturated fat in your diet and substitute it with refined carbohydrates, you are actually worse off.

Many recent studies have shown that refined carbohydrates are some of the worst things you can eat. They can lead to type 2 diabetes if eaten consistently in large quantities. This applies not only to sugar but also staple items such as white rice and white bread. In fact, a recent study at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) showed that by just substituting white rice with brown rice, you can cut the risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 16 per cent. According to Qi Sun of the department of nutrition at the HSPH, “White rice is eaten in large quantities in many parts of Asia. It is not good for health.”

In white rice, the germ and bran of the grain are removed. What remains is the endosperm, the least nutritive part of rice. The bran and germ contain dietary fibre and magnesium, both important in controlling diabetes. They also contain vitamins and other important minerals. Lack of nutrition, however, is not the only reason why white rice is unhealthy.

“White rice has a high glycemic index and glycemic load,” says Sun. “High glycemic index foods are known to increase the risk for diabetes.” Glycemic index is a measure of how quickly the food raises glucose levels. White rice has a glycemic index of around 65 while it’s 55 in the case of brown rice.

It is well known that high glycemic index foods are bad, and the Harvard study showed just how bad. Eating just 150 grams of white rice per week increased your chances of getting type 2 diabetes by 17 per cent, while eating just two servings of brown rice a month lowered the same by 11 per cent. Introducing a variety of whole grains in the diet lowered the risk of diabetes by as much as 36 per cent.

The link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease is more complex, but it is becoming clear that fat is not as bad as scientists once thought. Research findings in this regard, however, are somewhat contradictory. Several studies have shown no increase in risk for cardiovascular disease with moderate fat consumption, while some others show an increased risk. A recent meta-analysis by the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California found no link at all between fat consumption and heart disease.

A meta-analysis is an analysis of all large amounts of research in the field. The Oakland meta-analysis looked at the dietary habits of 3,50,000 people between five and 23 years, for which data was already published.

It found no evidence of increased cardiovascular risk with fat consumption, but it of course does not mean there was no risk. As the authors argued in a paper published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, what is eaten with the fat was very important in how the diet influenced health.

The argument against fat was based on the fact that it raised total cholesterol levels. Total cholesterol level is not a useful indicator of cardiovascular health. Fat increases LDL and HDL levels at the same time, and one cancels the negative effect of the other. “More data are needed to elucidate whether cardiovascular disease risks are likely to be influenced by specific nutrients used to replace saturated fat,” the authors wrote in the paper. The authors also saw a publication bias against results that showed no link between fat and heart disease – that is, papers that showed fat was bad were more likely to get published in journals.

A few studies used in the analysis strongly reject a fat-heart disease link. One study two years ago, again from the HSPH and conducted on 322 individuals, was particularly striking. It looked at the lipid profiles of people on three different kinds of diet: a low-fat, low-calorie diet; an unrestricted diet; and a low-calorie but otherwise unrestricted diet. Those who were on the third regime had the healthiest lipid profile in their blood, although they ate the maximum fat. Of course, they ate the least amount of carbohydrates.

So, rice lovers, make that change. Be it a Sunday lunch or a family feast, keep that familiar mound of white off your plate.

You may click to see->
carbohydrates in rice

Source : The Telegraph ( Kolkata, India)

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Healthy Tips

The Fibre-Cholesterol Connection

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High level of cholesterol is related to the intake of processed foods, sedentary lifestyle, nutrient deficiencies and stress. Many people think that cholesterol in the diet is directly responsible for cholesterol in the blood.

So, all they have to do is to cut out high-cholesterol foods and their blood cholesterol will become normal. This is a misconception. Merely cutting down on dietary cholesterol will have an insignificant effect on blood cholesterol.

Relying on a low cholesterol diet to lower blood cholesterol probably won’t work for most people. When the body is fed with high cholesterol foods like eggs, red meat, high fat dairy products, the excess cholesterol is metabolised and excreted leaving blood levels unchanged. Further more, the liver compensates for the excess intake of cholesterol by reducing its own production so that the blood levels of cholesterol do not rise. All this happens if the person is leading a healthy lifestyle, consuming a lot of antioxidants in the form of fruits and vegetables; eating whole food in the form of whole grain cereals, whole grain pulses and avoiding processed and refined foods in addition to exercising. All these factors insulate him from mishandling dietary cholesterol.

On the other hand, if he is living a life of stress and eating the regular fat-food fare as well as a diet rich in cholesterol, namely eggs, red meat and saturated fat in animal foods, then his body metabolises dietary cholesterol differently. The liver then, does not act as a safeguard, instead it allows the excess dietary cholesterol to enter the blood stream and subsequently stores it in the blood vessels and coronary arteries. Such people get affected by cholesterol rich foods and benefit from reducing their dietary cholesterol intake. This only justifies the phrase `one man’s food is another man’s poison’.

Whatever be the reason of raising blood cholesterol, the answer is quite simple. When you increase your intake of soluble fibre, it helps bring down the blood cholesterol dramatically. A point to note here is that fibre occurs exclusively in plant food. Animal foods like chicken, fish, meat, beef, cheese, eggs, milk, have little or no fibre to boast of. Fresh, raw unpeeled fruits and vegetables are high in fibre. Cooking vegetables especially the way we do it in Indian cooking (soggy and overcooked) destroys much fibre.

Juices have little or no fibre. similarly, unrefined grains products like dalia (broken wheat), whole wheat flour, wheat puffs, brown rice, jowar and bajra flour, whole dals like channa, rajma, chowli, beans, etc. are high in fibre.

Breads and biscuits high in fibre will list `whole wheat flour’ and not just `wheat flour’, as their chief ingredient on the label. Wheat bran is one of the highest fibre foods known because its fibre content is about 50 per cent. There is no doubt that a diet rich in soluble fibre can lower blood cholesterol, blood pressure and prevent strokes as well as heart attacks.

So how much fibre should you eat? It has been seen that in most Asian countries incidence of heart disease and diabetes is low. People in these countries consume anywhere between 40-60 gms of fibre per day. An intake of 35-40 gms of fibre is recommended to prevent heart disease. To increase the fibre content of your diet and thereby reduce cholesterol levels, all you have to do is follow the table.


– Unpeeled fruits and vegetables
– Whole wheat bread (please note whole wheat bread is not the same as brown bread)
– Fresh fruits
– Brown rice or wild rice
– Whole grain dals like channa, rajma, black dal chowli, green mung
– Whole wheat flour
– Popped corn and puffed wheat
– Snack on high fibre biscuits like those made from millets or bran or soya bean or whole wheat flour
– Skimmed milk
– Red wine


– Peeled fruits and vegetables
– White bread
– Fruit juices
– Polished white rice
– Animal protein
– White flour ( maida )
– Potato chips and fried sev
– Maida biscuits, where the label reads as ‘wheat flour’ as their main ingredient
– Whole milk
– Any other form of alcohol

Source: The Times Of India

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Daily Dose of Nuts Benefit Heart Health

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A daily dose of nutswalnuts, almonds, pistachios— can make up for a heart-healthy diet, according to Mayo Clinic researchers.


Most nuts contain some nutrients that can benefit heart health and help with cholesterol control.

They include unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, 1-arginine and plant sterols. Nuts have been shown to reduce low-density lipoproteins (LDL, or “bad” cholesterol) levels in the blood.

Eating nuts also can reduce the risk of developing blood clots and improve the health of the lining of the arteries.

The above benefits suggest that eating nuts, in limited amounts, may reduce the risk of heart disease, though studies haven’t yet proved this conclusively.

Almost any type of nut is nutritious — and high in calories. It is best to eat nuts in moderation, no more than a handful a day.

Also, choose unsalted or low-salt versions and use nuts as a substitute for saturated fats, such as those found in meats, eggs and dairy products.

Source: The study has been published in the latest issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s HealthSource.

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Healthy Tips

The Easiest Way to Avoid Getting Sick

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The food you put into your body can have a great affect on your overall health and well-being. Most Americans consume a high-acid diet full of fatty meats, chicken, turkey, pasta, cheese and hundreds of processed food items. This diet can ruin your body’s alkaline balance and actually lead to cell death in your entire body.

You need to reverse the acid overload and return to an alkaline state to avoid these sure signs of body imbalance:

*Poor circulation
*Joint and muscle pain
*Irregular heartbeats
*Weak veins and arteries
*Low energy and fatigue
*Premature aging
To help eliminate food chemicals, additives and toxins, plus the everyday toxic invaders from the air you breathe and the water you drink… you need to maintain an optimum pH alkaline/acid balance of 7 to 7.5 on a scale of 1 to 14. This pH scale measures 1 as being highly acidic, while 14 is highly alkaline. By reaching this pH balance goal, you can avoid excess acid that can cause damage to your colon, lungs, kidneys and skin, plus you can boost your immunity so you virtually never get sick!

You can also increase the amount of alkaline-forming foods you consume. These foods can help restore your pH balance, as well. Try to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, plus high-fiber foods and whole grains. Avoid dairy, sugary snack foods and processed items. By evaluating the food you put into your body, you can help maintain a healthy pH balance and avoid the ravages of old age and sickness.
How a Small-Town Doctor Surprised the Experts by Helping to Beat Acid Overload in Almost All of His Patients!

Dr. William Eggerton is a doctor in a small town in Louisiana. He’s using a remarkably simple remedy to eliminate high acid levels and restore healthy body chemistry.

Just three to eight drops of this all-natural remedy is helping his patients experience incredible relief from fatigue, constipation, acid reflux and heartburn, just to name a few.

Dr. Eggerton is so convinced of the remarkable healing power from this nutrient, he takes it every day himself.

Find out about this amazing nutrient that’s guaranteed to help you—no matter how old you are or how bad your problem is click here
Source: Better Health Research  9th.Nov’09

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