Arrowroot is an herbal plant. The starch derived from the roots and rhizomes of this plant is used in herbal medicinal preparations. In cooking, the herb is often replaced with potato or corn starch as it is costly.
Arrowroot is extensively seen growing in West Indian Islands as the herb prefers warm climate for its survival. It is also found in the following parts of the world – Australia, Central America, Latin America, Africa, USA and the Philippines.
What is Arrowroot?
Arrowroot is botanically known as Maranta arundinacea and it belongs to the Marantaceae family. The term maranta is dedicated to Bartommeo Maranto who was a medical practitioner of the 16th century. The herb is also known by the following other names – Bermuda arrowroot, obedience plant, ash, araruta, Albumen, reed arrowroot, St.Vincent arrowroot and Maranta. Some also add that the name Arrowroot is actually a corruption of the term ‘Aru-root’, a name given to this herb by the Aruac Indians from South America.
The herbal extract is actually a white colored powder that is extracted from the rhizomes of the Arrowroot plant. The process of extracting the dry powder involves washing, peeling, macerating, seiving and drying the starch mass. As a plant, Arrowroot is perennial in nature and can grow up to a height of 6 feet. The plant has a large, fibrous and scaly root. Arrowroot has long green colored leaves, white colored flowers and small fruits.
How does it work?
Apart from the fact that Arrowroot contains nearly 25% starch, the exact composition of this herb is still not known. The following medicinal actions are displayed by Arrowroot – demulcent and soothing.
Following are the health benefits of Arrowroot:
As a Demulcent
Arrowroot has been extensively used in folk medicine for its demulcent actions. Due to this reason, the herb is taken by mouth to solve gastrointestinal issues. The herb is used as an infant formula for babies who have just stopped breast milk. It is believed that arrowroot formula helps babies to adjust immediately after weaning.Arrowroot jellies are easy to digest for babies and for those with difficulty in digestion. The herb also helps in stopping diarrhea in children. In folk medicine, Arrow root is mainly used for solving cases of acute diarrhea.
Arrowroot is also used to treat scorpion stings, spider bites and even snake bites. It is also used to treat gangrene in wounds. Some use this herb to solve vegetable poisoning.
Arrowroot helps in reducing nausea. Some believe that taking Arrowroot after a bout of vomiting and diarrhea helps the body to replenish the lost nutrients. The herb can be applied directly on gums and inside mouth to solve mouth related issues. Due to its soothing nature, herbal biscuits or cookies are given to babies while cutting teeth. In an animal study, a diet rich in Marantae was shown to decrease cholesterol levels in the aorta.
Arrowroot powder bought from the market has to be boiled with water for further use. For infants, take approximately one tablespoon of the powdered herbal extract for a pint of water or milk.
Arrowroot is considered safe for consumption in food amounts. In medicinal amounts when taken internally and applied topically, the herb is considered safe. In optimum amount, the herb is considered safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Arrowroot powder can be made into a jelly-like form with water or milk and given to people recovering from certain health conditions. The herb is easy to digest and is considered best for babies. Arrowroot must not be confused with Japanese arrowroot which is botanically known as Pueraria montana and also with another herb known as Sagittaria.
Arrowroot might interact with anti-diarrheal drugs and laxative medications.