Arrowroot medicinal herb looks and feels like cornstarch

arrowroot powder

Arrowroot (Maranta Arundinacea) medicinal herb is a jungle plant and native to Africa, the East and West Indies and also Central and South America. It can also be described as a large perennial herb of genus maranta found in rainforest habitats. It is also called obedience plant and it is also a medicinal as well as culinary herb.  The main part used as herbal medicine is the powdered starch which is taken from the root or rhizome.  The powder was popularly used in Jamaica by mothers with young babies and it was also a favourite among the elders.

The common names are Arrow-root, Dictame, Maranta, Obedience plant, Maranta Arundinacea, Maranta starch as well as Arrurruz.   The medicinal properties are stomachic, anti-inflammatory, demulcent, sedative and digestive.

A little history for you

Archaeological studies in the Americas show evidence of this cultivation as early as 7,000 years ago.

The name may come from aru-aru, which means, meal of meals, in the language of the Caribbean Arawak people, for whom the plant is a staple. It has also been suggested that the name comes from its use in treating poison arrow wounds, as it draws out the poison when applied to the site of the injury.

In the early days of carbon-less copy papers, this herb, because of its fine grain size, was a widely used ingredient.  Its constituents include starch, sugar, fiber, gum, vitamins, minerals and fats.

arrowroot medicinal herb

Health benefits of arrowroot

This is a root food used by many rural folks for many years. Its medicinal uses are ancient.  The rhizome yields a very pure form of starch for commercial use. The powder is high in carbohydrates, and can be made into a nutritive drink for convalescents.

This is one of the herbs that is safe for babies, especially during teething, the crushed leaves of this medicinal plant can be rubbed on the gum to ease discomfort.

Mixing the medicinal powdered roots with water can be taken to reduce body heat and also rubbing it on the skin will prevent sunburn.

It is used to treat bowel and urinary problems, neutralizes poisons and acids in the blood. It is good to soothe an uneasy stomach and may alleviate and cure diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.  It is a good medicinal herb for all digestive ailments.  it is a good herbal remedy for earache, toothache and colic.

A combination of a cup of hot milk with two teaspoonful of the powder can treat ulcers.

How about the culinary side of it

In culinary uses,  it is used in puddings, pies, soups and gravies. It is especially used to thicken the soups and gravies and is more nourishing than the use of flour or cornstarch. The starch of this herb has long been used in making clear glazes for fruit pies or Chinese clear gravies because of its superior thickening ability.  Arrow-root is very nourishing, easy to digest and it has a soothing and softening effect upon mucous membranes.


The dosage of two to three teaspoons of the white powdered root may be boiled in a pint of water, and the drink may be taken several times for the day. Instead of boiling in water, arrowroot may be boiled in milk.

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