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.
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).
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.