encyclopedia

Carob

Scientific Names:    

Ceratonia siliqua L. [Fam. Fabaceae]    
     

Forms:    

Flour, powder, and gum made from the ground pods and seeds of carob    
     

Traditional Usage:    

– Antioxidant
– Antibacterial
– Cholesterol/Hyperlipidemia
– Constipation
– Diarrhea
– High Cholesterol
– Nutritive
– Prostate Health Maintenance
– Sugar Control     
    
     
Overview:    

Carobtree, Ceratonia siliqua L. [Fam. Fabaceae], also known as Locust-Bean, is an evergreen tree found in the Mediterranean, Western Asia, Egypt, United States, Europe, and the Middle East. Carob is a legume and its foot-long bean pods have been used medicinally and as a food source for over 5000 years. Carob's ground seeds are well known as a delicious cocoa substitute and are high in calcium, protein, and pectin and low in calories and fat. Carob is primarily used to treat diarrhea, including salmonella or virally induced diarrhea, as the gummy carbohydrates ('locust-bean gum'), help to absorb water and act as a binding agent. In community practice, carob bean has been used to treat diarrheal diseases in Anatolia since ancient times. The tannins in carob have antioxidant and antibacterial properties, which also make it a good remedy for diarrhea. In folk medicine, carob is also given to treat prostate problems, warts, and constipation. Carob pods were also chewed in the 1800s by opera singers who believed it helped their throats and voices. A clinical study of the anti-diarrheal effects of carob bean juice with 80 children admitted to hospital with acute diarrhea and dehydration found that carob bean juice shortened the duration of diarrhea by 45%, reduced stool output by 44% and decreased the need for oral rehydration solution (ORS) by 38% compared with children receiving ORS alone. Human studies have also confirmed the lipid-lowering effect of a carob pulp preparation rich in insoluble dietary fiber and polyphenols. After a 4-week study of consuming 15g of powdered carob daily, reductions of 7.1% in mean total cholesterol and 10.6% in LDL cholesterol were noted. Locust-bean gum also significantly decreases the glucose response to, and glycemic index of foods (when intimately mixed) and tends to decrease their insulinaemic response and insulinaemic index.    
     
    
Active Ingredients:    

Carob contains: alanine, alpha-aminopimelic-acid, amino acids, arginine, ash, aspartic acid, benzoic acid, butyric acid, capronic acid, carubin, catechin tannin, cellulose, ceratoniase, ceratose, chiro-inositol, concanavalin-A, fat, formic acid, fructose, D-galactose, gallic acid, beta-D1,6-DI-O-galloylglucose, beta-D-glucogallin, glucose, glutamic acid, glycine, gum, hemicellulose, histidine, hydroxyproline, invert sugars, isobutyric acid, isoleucine, leucine, leucodelphinidin, lignin, lysine, D-mannose, methionine, mucilage, myoinositol, pectin, pentosane, phenylalanine, pinitol, primverose, proline, protein, saccarose, saponin, serine, starch, sucrose, sugars, tannin, threonine, tocopherol, tyrosine, valine, water, xylose. The pods are rich in antioxidant polyphenols (19.2%) and have also been proposed for use as a functional food or food ingredient. Because they are high in nutrients, the pods are commonly given to livestock as feed. The condensed tannin content determined by the vanillin and proanthocyanidin assay systems was 4.37% and 1.36%, respectively. [Duke JA. 1992. Handbook of Phytochemical Constituents of GRAS Herbs and Other Economic Plants. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, pp. 152-153; and Kumazawa S, Taniguchi M, Suzuki Y, Shimura M, Kwon MS, Nakayama T. 2002. Antioxidant activity of polyphenols in carob pods. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Jan 16; 50(2): 373-7.].    
     
    
Suggested Amount:    

The recommended daily dose of carob powder is 15 grams for children and 20 grams for adults. The power may be mixed with applesauce or sweet potatoes and should be taken with water.    
     
    
Drug Interactions:    

None known.    
    
     
Contraindications:    

None known.    
     
    
Side Effects:    

Rare allergic reactions have been reported. In the hypercholeserolemia study, only 3 volunteers out of 47 participants (6%) reported a sensation of fullness, which led to 2 of the 3 dropouts. No other negative side effects were noted in the studies on cholesterol; HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels remained unchanged in subjects.    
     
    
References:    

Aksit S, Caglayan S, Cukan R, Yaprak I. 1998. Carob bean juice: a powerful adjunct to oral rehydration solution treatment in diarrhoea. Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 1998 Apr; 12(2): 176-81.
 
Drouliscos NJ, Malefaki V. 1980. Nutritional evaluation of the germ meal and its protein isolate obtained from the carob seed (Ceratonia siliqua) in the rat. Br J Nutr. 1980 Jan; 43(1): 115-23.
 
Duke, J. 1997: The Green Pharmacy, The Ultimate Compendium of Natural Remedies from the World's Foremost Authority on Healing and Herbs. Pp. 206. Rodale Press.
 
Yaniv Z, Dafni A, Friedman J, Palevitch D. 1987. Plants used for the treatment of diabetes in Israel. J Ethnopharmacol. 1987 Mar-Apr; 19(2): 145-51.
 
Zunft HJ, Luder W, Harde A, Haber B, Graubaum HJ, Gruenwald J. 2001. Carob pulp preparation for treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Adv Ther. 2001 Sep-Oct; 18(5):230-6.