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Common Name: Fleawort
Plantago psyllia is an annual plant that can grow up to 0.60 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
Europe - Mediterranean to E. Asia - India.
Dry places in S. Europe[
]. Found wild on most well-drained soils[
Succeeds in any moderately fertile soil in a sunny position.
Cultivated for its seed which is used medicinally[
Closely related to P. arenaria. There is considerable confusion over the correct name for this species. This same name was given to two different species by Linnaeus, one in 1753 and again in 1762. The species named in 1753 is sometimes held to be a synonym for P. arenaria but is here treated as P. psyllia. The species named in 1762 is now held to be P. affra.
Young leaves - raw or cooked[
Seed - sprouted and eaten in salads[
]. Due to their mucilaginous quality, the sprouts are usually grown on clay or other porous materials[
Psyllium has been used as a safe and effective laxative for thousands of years in Western herbal medicine[
Both the dried seeds and the seed husks are demulcent, emollient and laxative[
]. The seeds have a mucilaginous coat and swell to several times their volume when in water[
]. The seeds and the husks contain high levels of fibre, they expand and become highly gelatinous when soaked in water. By maintaining a high water content within the large bowel they increase the bulk of the stool, easing its passage[
]. They are used as a demulcent and as a bulk laxative in the treatment of constipation, dysentery and other intestinal complaints, having a soothing and regulatory effect upon the system[
]. Their regulatory effect on the digestive system means that they can also be used in the treatment of diarrhoea and by helping to soften the stool they reduce the irritation of haemorrhoids[
The jelly-like mucilage produced when psyllium is soaked in water has the ability to absorb toxins within the large bowel. Thus it helps to remove toxins from the body and can be used to reduce auto-toxicity[
The macerated and decocted seeds yield a rich mucilage that is used in relieving skin irritations and reddened eyelids[
The seeds are used in face-masks in order to soften the skin[
A type of gum is obtained from the seeds and used for making fabric dressings[
Seed - sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer.
A sowing can be made outdoors in situ in mid to late spring if you have enough seeds.