Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea)
Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
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).
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.
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.
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.
*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 against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. 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 health care professional.
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.
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
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.
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.
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.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. 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.
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.
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).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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. View Abstract
Chopra JG, Gist CA. Food practices among Trinidadian children. J Am Diet Assoc 1966;49(6):497-501. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
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. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 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.
March 22, 2017