The carob tree has been cultivated as forage for thousands of years in all Mediterranean countries; however, its medicinal properties were only discovered some decades ago.
Healing Properties and Indications
The flesh of its fruit, carob, contains many sugars (mainly saccharose), pectin, starch, proteins, fats, cellulose, and mineral salts. Fresh carob has laxative properties. However, carob flour, when dried, has antidiarrheic properties, besides having the ability to absorb toxins in the digestive system. It renders excellent results for children’s diarrhea, up to the point that it is one of the most widely employed treatments for gastroenteritis of children still on a milk diet.
The seeds are rich in mucilage. From them, the carob gum is obtained. Once inside the stomach, this substance forms a kind of viscous gel, which because of its significant increase in volume through adsorption of liquids, provides a sensation of being full, being thus used in weight-loss diets. When in the intestine, carob gum has emollient (soothing) and laxative properties.
Carob Tree Scientific Facts
- French: Caroubier.
- Spanish: Algarrobo.
- Environment: Common in all Mediterranean countries, there are some varieties in America.
- Description: Evergreen tree of the Leguminosae family, growing up to 10 m high. Its fruit is dark brown pods containing 12 to 16 hard seeds within a sweet, dark brown flesh.
- Parts of the plant used medicinally: The fruit (carob) and the seeds.
American Carob Trees
The black carob tree grows in Argentina, and Central and South America, the so-called West Indian carob tree. The bark of these trees secretes copal, a resinous substance similar to incense, which is used as pectoral and antitussive. The fruit of the West Indian carob tree is also used to prepare delicious thirst-quenching drinks.
How to use Carob
- Flour. Carob flour is sold in pharmacies, and with it, a puree of pleasant flavor is prepared. This food, besides stopping diarrhea, is very nutritious.
- Gum. It is also sold in pharmacies in the form of capsules or bags. The typical dose (except when otherwise recommended by a physician or in the pharmaceutical preparation) to produce a total result is 0.5 to 1.5 g, half an hour before each meal, together with a glass of water.
George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. “Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants.” George D. Pamplona-Roger, M.D. Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants. Ed. Francesc X. Gelabert. vols. 2 San Fernando de Henares: Editorial Safeliz, 2000. 497. Print.