Carob

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What other names is Carob known by?

Algarrobo, Caroube, Carouge, Ceratonia siliqua, Fève de Pythagore, Figuier d'Égypte, Garrofero, Locust Bean, Locust Bean Gum, Locust Pods, Pain de Saint Jean-Baptiste, St. John's Bread, Sugar Pods.

What is Carob?

Carob is a tree. Don't confuse carob with Jacaranda caroba which is also known as carob tree. People use the carob fruit for medicine and in foods.

Medicinally, carob is used for digestion problems including diarrhea, heartburn, and the intestine's inability to properly absorb certain nutrients from food. These absorption disorders include celiac disease and sprue.

Other uses of carob include treatment of obesity, vomiting during pregnancy, and high cholesterol.

In infants, carob is used for vomiting, retching cough, and diarrhea.

In foods and beverages, carob is used as a flavoring agent and as a chocolate substitute. Carob flour and extracts are also used as ingredients in food products.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Diarrhea. Some research suggests drinking juice extracted from raw carob bean or taking carob pod powder just prior to taking a standard oral rehydration solution (ORS) reduces the duration of symptoms in children and infants with acute diarrhea.
  • High cholesterol. Early research suggests that taking carob pulp or a specific carob product (Caromax, Nutrinova, Frankfurt, Germany) by mouth for up to 6 weeks reduces total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol in people with moderately high cholesterol.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Inherited tendency toward high cholesterol (familial hypercholesterolemia). Early research suggests that taking carob gum by mouth for 4-8 weeks reduces total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or "bad") cholesterol levels in children and adults with familial hypercholesterolemia.
  • Obesity. Early research suggests that a carob and bean pod extract might improve cholesterol levels and increase excretion of fat in feces of overweight and obese people.
  • Celiac disease.
  • Sprue.
  • Heartburn.
  • Vomiting during pregnancy.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of carob for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

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How does Carob work?

Carob contains chemicals called tannins, which decrease the effectiveness of certain substances (enzymes) that help with digestion. Carob might cause weight loss, reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, and lower cholesterol levels.

Are there safety concerns?

Carob is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in food amounts or as a medicine. There don't seem to be any unwanted side effects.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking carob if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use in greater than food amounts.

Dosing considerations for Carob.

The appropriate dose of carob for use as treatment depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for carob. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

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