• Although "Arrowroot"
refers to any plant of the genus Maranta, its popular use is to describe
the digestible starch from the rhizomes of the Maranta arundinacea.
There is evidence to show arrowroot cultivation 7,000 years ago.
• The word may derive from (1) a corruption of the Aru-root of
the Aruac Indians of South America, (2) Aru-aru. referring to the native
Caribbean Arawak people's "meal of meals" for which the plant
is a dietary staple, and (3) Arrowroot's use for treating poison arrow
• Year-old roots are used; and when good, contain 23% starch.
After washing and clearing of paper-like scales, It is beat to a pulp
through a wheel rasp. The milky fluid is passed through a coarse cloth
or sieve; the resultant pure low-protein mucilaginous starch settles
as an insoluble powder that is sun-dried or processed dried power to
become the arrow-root of packaged or canned commerce. (1) (2)
Araru is an erect, smooth, dichotomously branched
herbaceous perennial plant 1 - 2 meters high, growing from fleshy, fusiform rootstock. Stems are slender. Leaf blades are lanceolate, attenuate-acuminate,
10 to 20 centimeters long, thin petioled, green and rounded at the base. Inflorescence
is terminal, lax, divaricate, and few-flowered. Flowers are white, about
2 centimeters long.
- Widely distributed in the Philippines in cultivation for
its starch-storing rhizomes.
- Native of tropical America.
- Now pantropic.
The tuber consists of 27% starch, 63% water, 1.56% albumin, 4.10% sugar,
gum, etc., 0.26% fiber and 1.23% ash.
- Plant yields starch (27.17%), fiber, fat, albumen, sugar, gum, ash, and water (62.96%).
- Rhizome skin yields a bitter and resinous substance, removed in peeling in the preparation of arrowroot starch.
- Phytochemical screening of various extracts of rhizomes yielded flavonoids, alkaloids, tannins, glycosides, steroids, phenols, cardiac glycosides, saponins, carbohydrates, and proteins. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analysis of phytoconstituent rich ethanolic extract of rhizome yielded 49 compounds. (12)
- Nutrition analysis per cup of sliced arrowroot (about 120 gm) yields: 78 calories, 0.2 g fat (0.1 g polyunsaturated fat), 31 mg sodium,
16 gm carbohydrate, 5 g protein, 545 mg potassium, 2.7 mg iron, 0.3 mg vitamin B6, 0.2 mg thiamin, 2 g niacin, 30 mg magnesium, 0.1 mg riboflavin (B2), 2.3 mg vitamin C. (22)
- The starch is white, odorless, tasteless.
- Starch is considered nutrient, demulcent and emollient.
- Considered stomachic, anti-inflammatory, demulcent, sedative and digestive.
- Studies have suggested antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, antioxidant properties.
Culinary / Nutrition
- Rhizomes are edible, produce the arrowroot starch.
- Highly digestible.
- Used as thickener in making puddings, baked goods, and sauces.
Boiled and roasted or
ground and made into pastries.
- In remote barrios, starch also used for starching clothes.
- Valuable as an easily digested and nutritive and nourishing diet for
- Well suited for infants in the weaning from breast milk.
- A chief ingredient in infant cookies.
- Preparation: Decoction from 2-3 tablespoonfuls of root powder in one
liter of water, seasoned with honey, lemon or any variety of fruit juices
- In the West Indies, roots used for poulticing poisoned and other wounds.
- Mashed roots as plaster applied to areas of insect stings and spider
- Applied to the skin to soothe painful, irritated and inflamed mucous
- Roots also poulticed for poisoned arrow wounds.
- Starch used as soothing application for various skin problems: erysipelas, sunburn, wasp stings, dermatitis, and gangrene. In the Caribbean, pounded leaves used as teething aid. In Trinidad, used as anti-inflammatory skin poultice. (Duke 1985; Honychurch 1991)
- The fresh juice is used as antidote for vegetable poisons.
- Used to soothe the stomach and as a remedy for diarrhea, probably from
its high starch content.
- In remote Philippine barrios, starch also used for starching clothes.
Ancient Mayans and other Central American
tribes used it as antidote for poison-tipped arrows.
- An ingredient in many natural deodorants.
- Study suggests beneficial effect in the treatment of diarrhea associated with irritable bowel disease (IBS).
• Enterokinase Inhibition:
A study of 22 tubers and 9 pulses screened for inhibitors of enterokinase
activity showed Maranta arundinacea as one of 12 tubers with inhibitory
activity. M arundinacea also exhibited endogenous esterase activity
towards benzoyl arginine ethyl ester. Any factor in food capable of
suppressing enterokinase activity would lead to digestive disturbance
comparable to enterokinase deficiency. (3)
• Anti-Diarrheal: Study on the effect of boiled and cooled supernatant of arrowroot and water on children during acute diarrhea showed a decrease in cholera toxin-induced net water secretion or reversal to net absorption.(7)
• Antimicrobial on Foodborne Pathogens: Study showed the water extract of Arrowroot tea at 10% greatly inhibited the microbial growth of gram-positive and gram-negative pathogens tested.(8)
• Antioxidant: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract for antioxidant activity. Results showed high antiradical activity against DPPH, ABTS, hydrogen peroxide and nitric oxide radicals. The antioxidant activity was comparable to BTH. (9) Study of methanolic extract from M. arundinacea rhizomes showed considerable in vitro antioxidant and free radical scavenging activities in a dose dependent manner when compared to standard antioxidant (ascorbic acid/trolox). (23)
• Immunomodulatory: Study evaluated the immunostimulatory effects of arrowroot extracts in vitro using animal culture techniques and in vivo using BALB/c mice. Results showed the arrowroot tuber extracts stimulated IgM and immunoglobulin production in vitro, and in vivo increased serum IgG, IgA, and IgM levels in mice. (10)
• Potential Source of Ethanol: Study evaluated Uraro (Arrowroot) for its potential as source of ethyl alcohol or ethanol. Three different treatments of rhizomes and water were used. The percentage purity of the alcohol in all treatments based on 56% purity. (11)
• Effect on Survival of Probiotic Bacteria in Yoghurt: Study evaluated the effect of arrowroot carbohydrates on survival of lactobacilli in bio-yoghurts. Results suggest arrowroot carbohydrates can be used to enhance the Latobacilli population in bio-yoghurt during refrigerated storage. (13)
• Antimicrobial / Arrowroot:Study evaluated the antimicrobial effect of a water extract of M. arundinacea tea on foodborne pathogens in liquid medium. Cocktail of four pathogenic bacteria (E. coli, S. enteritidis, L. monocytogenes and S. aureus) was inoculated o into arrowroot tea solutions. Results showed 0.63% of Arrowroot tea was effective in inhibiting all pathogens to minimum detection limit. (14)
• Biomass as Feed, Fuel and Fiber Source: A 1984 study evaluated arrowroot biomass and processing residues as feed, fuel and fiber resource. Biomass and residues yielded 10.8-21.1% crude protein; 11.1-30.2 crude fiver; 3.8-17.0% ash; with an invitro dry matter digestibility of 38.5-60.3%. Study identified the fuel alcohol production potential from yeast-supplemented aerial biomass. Coarse residue showed qualities suited to tear-resistant specialty grade papers. Besides utilization of by-products as food,fuel, and fiber resource, it can also help reduce environmental pollution resulting from direct discharge of unused by-products. (15)
• Antidiarrheal / Cytotoxicity / Leaves: Study investigated the antidiarrheal and cytotoxic activities of a methanolic extract of M. arundinacea leaves in rats and brine shrimp, respectively. Results showed an antidiarrheal effect with significant reduction of castor oil-induced intestinal volume and intestinal transit comparable to standard drug loperamide. The extract also showed potent effect against brine shrimp with an LD50 of 420 µg/mL. (18)
• Phenolic, Flavonoid and Flavanol Content / Rhizomes: Study determined the total phenol, flavonoid, and flavonol content of an ethanolic extract of rhizomes of M. arundinacea. An ethanolic extract showed a TPC of 390 ± 11 mg GAE/100g, TFC of 290 ± 7 mg QE/100g and a total flavonol content of 150 ± 9 mg QE/100 g. (19)
• Potential of Gluten-Free Enriched Flour as Functional Food: Study evaluated the potential of Maranta arundinacea flour modifications for increasing levels of resistant starch to increase the functional properties of gluten-free flour. Study suggests the gluten-free enriched resistant, starch type 3 flour from M. arundinacea can help keep glucose and lipids under normal conditions, suggesting a potential use as functional food, especially for those with difficulty in managing glucose and lipid profiles. (20)
• Benefit on Bacterial Content and Chemical Properties of Digesta: Study evaluated the effect of arrowroot containing diet on the bacterial population and chemical properties of rat digesta. In vivo study showed the diet containing arrowroot powder significantly increased (p<0.05) population of lactobacilli. The digesta had lower pH, higher water content, and higher butyrate. Results suggest supplementation of arrowroot power in the diet improved bacterial and chemical properties of digesta. (21)
- Cultivated for arrowroot starch.
- Starch and flour products in the cybermarket.