This section is from the book "An Experimental History Of The Materia Medica", by William Lewis.
Psyllium Pharm. Paris. Pulicaris herba Lugdun. Psyllium majus erectum C. B. Plant ago Psyllium Linn. Fleawort: an herb of the plantain kind, differing from the common plantains in being annual, and having its (talks branched, with leaves upon them, which are long, slender, and somewhat hairy. It grows wild in the warmer parts of Europe, and is sometimes raised in our gardens. The seeds have been usually brought from the south of France: they are small, smooth, slippery, of a shining brown colour, of an oblong flattish figure supposed to resemble that of a flea, whence the name of the plant.
The seeds of fleawort have a nauseous mucilaginous taste, and no remarkable smell: a dram renders near a pint of water (limy and yellow-ish: the decoction, infpiffated, leaves a strong dark brown mucilage, which impresses on the palate an unpleasant, weak, but penetrating acrimony. This mucilage has been employed chiefly in emollient glysters, in gargarisms for hoarseness and asperity of the fauces, and in external applications for chaps of the lips and inflammations of the eyes. Prosper Alpinus relates, that among the Egyptians, the mucilage or an infusion of the feeds is given internally, in ardent fevers; and that it generally either loosens the belly or promotes sweat. The particular virtue of these feeds, or whatever virtue they may have distinct from that of mucilaginous substances in general, appears to reside in the acrid matter, which may be separated from the mucilaginous by rectified spirit: the feeds, di-gested in rectified spirit, give out their acrimony and ill taste, and yield afterwards to water an al-most insipid mucilage.