Drugs A - Z
Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea)
Generic Name: Arrowroot
CategoryHerbs & Supplements
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.
EvidenceDISCLAIMER: 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.
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: 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.
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.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
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
Interactions with Drugs
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 patient information is based on a professional level monograph edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com): Lena Abraham, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); J. Katherine Bryan, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Jessica Clubb, PharmD (Northeastern University); Julie Conquer, PhD (RGB Consulting); Molly Davis, PharmD (University of Rhode Island); Antoinette Edmondson, PharmD (Massachusetts College of Pharmacy); Nicole Giese, MS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Shaina Tanguay-Colucci, BS (Natural Standard Research Collaboration); Wendy Weissner, BA (Natural Standard Research Collaboration).
BibliographyDISCLAIMER: 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.
Chopra JG, Gist CA. Food practices among Trinidadian children. J Am Diet Assoc 1966;49(6):497-501.
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.
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.
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.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.