Carob (Ceratonia siliqua) is a leguminous evergreen tree of the family Leguminosae (pulse family). Although it was originally native to Mediterranean regions, it is now cultivated in many warm climates, including Florida and California. The pods may be ground into a flour, which is often used as a cocoa substitute because it has a somewhat similar taste to chocolate and one-third the calories.
Carob has been used to treat infantile diarrhea and carob bean gum has been used to control hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) and as a dietary adjunct to elevated plasma cholesterol management.
There is conflicting data on the effect of carob bean gum as a formula thickener and its effect on regurgitation frequency. The use of soluble dietary fibers, such as carob bean gum, has been shown to alter food structure, texture and viscosity, the rate of starch degradation during digestion, and the regulation of postprandial blood sugar and insulin levels.
As a food, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given carob generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status.
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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.
Hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol)
Fiber, such as oat fiber, has been shown to reduce serum cholesterol levels. Carob pod fiber or carob bean gum may also have this ability, although additional research is needed to confirm these findings.
Diarrhea in children
Traditionally, carob has been used for the treatment of gastrointestinal conditions, especially diarrhea. Preliminary study used different types of carob products as an adjunct to oral rehydrating solution and showed promising results. Additional study is needed in this area.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (in infants)
Locust bean gum is a common food thickener and may prove helpful in infantile gastroesophageal reflux. However, additional study is needed in this area.