Ceratonia siliqua Caesalpiniaceae Also called St John's bread, Locust bean.
The 'locusts' on which john the Baptist survived in the desert are thought to be carob beans, hence the popular name, Stjohn's bread. The large evergreen carob tree grows in the Mediterranean region and can reach 20m in height. Its flowers are small, reddish, have no petals and form gleaming clusters. The bean is a large purple-brown pod in which 8-12 seeds lie in a fleshy pulp.
Carob is largely made up of sugars and tannins. Almost 90 per cent of the bean is composed of sugar-type compounds and soluble fibre. It is also rich in mucilage, which soothes inflamed mucous membranes.
The pulp in the seedpods is high in soluble sugars, too (40 to 50 per cent), as well as being rich in tannins.
Carob preparations are used to treat diarrhoea, indigestion and heartburn. Carob flour is mixed with sunflower seed and rice flours to make an absorbent preparation gentle enough to treat diarrhoea in babies. Tests in Belgium in 1989 found that infants suffering with diarrhoea recovered more rapidly when given carob pod powderpossibly as a result of the tannins, which not only bind to, and thus inactivate, toxins, but also inhibit the growth of bacteria.
In a Turkish teaching hospital study in 1998 carob bean juice was found to effectively combat diarrhoea in children. Carob helps to sooth intestinal irritation. The mucilage and gum are also both used as a treatment for vomiting in mild preparations, which are suitable for babies and pregnant women.
Carob bean gum is a useful ingredient in slimming foods and is widely used as a low-fat chocolate substitute: it lacks absorbable nutrients and can be used as thickener, making food more substantial - but not more fattening.
To date there have been no reported toxic effects from using therapeutic doses of preparations based on carob.
PREPARATION AND DOSAGE
For internal use
TO TREAT diarrhoea
CAROB FLOUR Take 20-30g a day mixed with lukewarm water or milk. 50 as to avoid irritating the throat, add a teaspoon of flour to the mixture. Consult a doctor before treating a baby with diarrhoea - hydration with a high electrolyte fluid is vital.
TO TREAT vomiting
CAROB GUM For an adult Put 1 tablespoon of gum in a glass of water. Drink in the evening.
IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST CONSULT A DOCTOR
The carob can only be cultivated outdoors in a warm Mediterraneanlike climate and can tolerate dry soil.
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