Ispaghula (Plantago): Source, Collection, Constituents and Medicinal Uses
Psyllium seed; Flea seed: Plantain seed; Isabgol; Ishabgul Spogel seed.
Ispaghula consists of cleaned, dried, ripe seed of Plantago psyrium Linn, or of Plantago indica Linn. (P. arenaric Wald.). known as Spanish or French Psyllium seed, or of Plantago ovate Fork, known as Blonde Psyllium or Indian Plantago.
P Psyllium Linn, is indigenous to the Mediterranean region and west. Asia, presently cultivated in France. Spain and Cuba. P. ovata is found in Punjab hills and other parts of north-west India, Sind and Baluchistan and is cultivated in Bengal, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
Cultivation and Collection:
The plant is a stemless or sub-coalescent, soft, hairy annual herb. It is cultivated by spreading seeds in November in well drained loamy soil. To the fields ammonium sulphate fertilizer is added and they are irrigated at an interval of 8-10 days for about 8 times.The crop is harvested in four months in March/April. The plants are cut just above the ground, dried and seeds are separated by thrashing.
The seeds of P. ovata are 2.0-3.3 mm in length, 1-16 mm in breadth; dull, pinkish grey-brown; long to elliptical in outline, boat shaped; the dorsal surface is convex with a small elliptical or elongated shining reddish brown spot while the ventral surface is concave with a deep furrow, not perfectly reaching to either end of the seeds. At the furrow a hilum is present which is covered by a thin membrane and appears as a red spot in the centre. The outer surface is smooth, hard and translucent. The seeds are odorless and taste is bland but mucilaginous.
The seeds contain hydrocolloidal polysaccharide (mucilage) in the outer seed coat (20-30%), fixed oils, tannin, aucubin glycoside (iridoid), sugars, sterols and protein. The mucilage of Ispaghula is colloidal in nature and its composition varies with the conditions of preparation, it is mainly composed of xylose, arabinose and galacturonic acid;rhamnose and galactose have also been reported. Two poly saccharine fractions have been separated from the muscilage.
One fraction is soluble in cold water and on hydrolysis yields xylose (46%). an aldobiouronic acid (40%), arabinose (7%) and insoluble residue. The other fraction in soluble in hot water forming a highly viscous solution which sets as a gel on cooling and yields on hydrolysis xylose (80%). arabinose (14%), aldobiouronic acid (0.3%) and trace of galactose. The fatty oil is composed of linolenic, linoleic, oleic, palmitic, stearic and lignoceric acids. P. ovata is a good source of linoleic acid. The amino acids reported in the seed-are valine. alanine, glycine, glutamic acid, cystine. lysine, leucine and tyrosine.
- Seeds are demulcent, cooling, diuretic and used in inflammatory conditions of mucus membrane of gastrointestinal and gestourinary tracts.
- They are used to cure chronic dysentery, diarrhea, duodenal ulcer, gonorrhea, constipation and piles.
- Isabgol preparations are given after colostomy to assist the production of smooth solid faecal mass. The mucilage is not digested by enzymes and intestinal bacteria in the gut and comes out unchanged. Jelly-like mucilage absorbs irritating products and toxins of the gut and they are expelled from the body.
- The seeds are used in febrile conditions and the affections of kidneys, bladder and urethra.
- A decoction of seeds is prescribed in cough and cold, and the crushed seeds made into poultice are applied to rheumatic and glandular swellings. Recently anticancer, antitoxic, antiatherosclerosis, hypocholesteremic, hypo-glycemic, hypotensive, cardiac depressant, cholinergic and cervical activities have been reported.