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Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea)

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Also listed as: Maranta arundinacea
Related terms
Background
Evidencetable
Tradition
Dosing
Safety
Interactions
Attribution
Bibliography

Related Terms
  • Albumen, araruta, arrowroot cookie, arrowroot starch, ash, bamboo tuber, Bermuda arrowroot, East Indian arrowroot, Maranta arundinacea, Marantaceae (family), obedience plant, reed arrowroot, St. Vincent arrowroot, true arrowroot, West Indian arrowroot.
  • Note: This plant should not be confused with arrowhead (Sagittaria spp.) or Japanese arrowroot (Pueraria montana).

Background
  • Arrowroot refers to any plant of the genus Maranta, but the term is most commonly used to describe the easily digestible starch obtained from the rhizomes of Maranta arundinacea. Other plants that produce similar starches include East Indian arrowroot (Curcuma angustifolia), Queensland arrowroot (Cannaceae family), Brazilian arrowroot (Euphorbiaceae family), and Florida arrowroot (Zamia pumila or Zamia integrifolia). This monograph addresses only true arrowroot, Maranta arundinacea.
  • The popular name arrowroot may be a corruption of the Aru-root of the Aruac Indians of South America or derived from its legendary use as an antidote for poison-tipped arrow toxins. The name may also come from the native Caribbean Arawak people's aru-aru (meal of meals), for whom the plant was a dietary staple.
  • Arrowroot is used in the form of a starchy powder dried from the milky liquid extracted from the grated plant rhizome. Arrowroot has been studied as a remedy for diarrhea, possibly due to its high starch content. Arrowroot has also been taken by mouth as a dietary aid in gastrointestinal disorders, and applied on the skin to soothe painful, irritated, or inflamed mucous membranes.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *


Arrowroot is an edible starch with proposed demulcent (soothing) effects, and is a well-known traditional remedy for diarrhea. Early study suggests it may have a beneficial effect in the treatment of diarrhea in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients. Additional study is needed in this area.

C
* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)


Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Antibacterial, antidote to poisons (vegetable poisons, poison tipped arrows), cholera, dehydration, demulcent (soothes inflammation), food uses, gangrene, gastrointestinal disorders, inflammation (mucous membranes), insect and spider bites, teething, weight loss.

Dosing

Adults (18 years and older)

  • Two 5 milliliter spoonfuls of powdered arrowroot (Thornton & Ross UK Pharmaceutical Company) three times a day with, or as part of, meals for one month has been taken by mouth.

Children (younger than 18 years)

  • There is currently a lack of available scientific information to recommend the use of arrowroot in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to arrowroot (Marantana arundinacea), its constituents, or members of the Marantaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • There is limited available scientific evidence on the side effect profile of arrowroot. Arrowroot is likely safe when used in amounts commonly found in foods for a short term, or when used as a substitute for wheat or other gluten-containing grains in allergic patients.
  • The most common adverse effect of arrowroot is constipation. Upset stomach (dyspepsia) has also been reported.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Medicinal amounts of arrowroot are not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence.

Interactions

Interactions with Drugs

  • Arrowroot may reduce diarrhea and even cause constipation. Caution is advised when used with antidiarrheal or laxative medications.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Arrowroot may reduce diarrhea and even cause constipation. Caution is advised when used with antidiarrheal or laxative herbs and supplements.

Attribution
  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

Bibliography
  1. Cooke C, Carr I, Abrams K, et al. Arrowroot as a treatment for diarrhoea in irritable bowel syndrome patients: a pilot study. Arq Gastroenterol. 2000;37(1):20-24.
  2. Chopra JG, Gist CA. Food practices among Trinidadian children. J Am Diet Assoc 1966;49(6):497-501.
  3. Labbe R, Somers E, Duncan C. Influence of starch source on sporulation and enterotoxin production by Clostridium perfringens type A. Appl.Environ.Microbiol. 1976;31(3):455-457.
  4. Perez E, Lares M. Chemical composition, mineral profile, and functional properties of Canna (Canna edulis) and Arrowroot (Maranta spp.) starches. Plant Foods Hum Nutr 2005;60(3):113-116.
  5. Rolston DD, Mathew P, Mathan VI. Food-based solutions are a viable alternative to glucose-electrolyte solutions for oral hydration in acute diarrhoea--studies in a rat model of secretory diarrhoea. Trans.R.Soc.Trop.Med Hyg. 1990;84(1):156-159.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)


The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.


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