Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) Information, Medicinal Uses and More

Read about botanical details, health benefits and medicinal usage of Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) plant. Learn some useful remedies of this plant.

Arrowroot, Ararut, Araaruta, Sita tavakshira, are few common names of starch obtained from the dried rhizome or tubers of a plant Maranta arundinacea, native to Caribbean and the northern part of South America. Maranta arundinacea tubers contain about 25-30% neutral starch, fiber, fat, albumen, sugar and gum. They are dried and powdered to get a white-starchy powder known as Arrowroot. This plant is different from Indian Arrowroot.

Arrowroot is boiled and eaten as a nutritive food and also as a medicine. Internally, the powder is found to be beneficial in urinary problems (scanty urination, painful urination, burning urination and other urination problem), menorrhea, strangury and digestive troubles (diarrhea, gastroenteritis). In case of food poisoning and toxic effect of some herbs (such as Strychnos nux vomica), the Arrowroot powder is given as antidote. The powder is also used externally on wounds.

arrowroot medicinal uses

By Noblevmy at ml.wikipedia [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes, Arrowroot starch is also used as a substitute for Vanshalochan or Bamboo-manna.

General Information

Plant Description: Arrow root plant, Maranta arundinacea is a tall herb with short-leafy branched stem and thick, fleshy, creeping rootstock or rhizome.

Leaves are distichous, ovate-lanceolate; petiole sheathing, pulvinate.

Flowers are white, in pairs on long, branched peduncles, in terminal cyme. Sepals 3. Corolla tubular below, 3-lobed above. Staminodes 2, petaloid; fertile stamen petaloid, with lateral anther. Fruit ovoid-oblong, indehiscent. Seed arillus, green outside.

Rhizome is horizontal and unbranched. It is spindle shaped, 12 to 20 cm long and dull white to creamy in colour.

Fresh rhizome is prominently marked with nodal rings and scale leaves which completely encircle the nodes. Internodal length is 0.5 to 1.5 cm, sliced individual pieces are cylindrical, rough, and size ranges from 1 to 2 cm long and 1 to 2.5 cm across. Externally the brownish and broken surface is off white.

Arrow root Starch appearance: It is irregular in shape, ellipsoid, pear-shaped or almost trigonal.

  • Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Roots
  • Plant type / Growth Habit: Tall herb
  • Duration: Perennial

Distribution: Native of tropical America and now frequently cultivated in all tropical regions of the world including India, Sri Lanka, Java, Philippine Islands and the west coast of Africa.

Habitat: High humid, warm and shady places. Well drained alluvial and volcanic soil.

Propagation and management: Propagation is done by the mature tips of rhizome.

Vernacular names / Synonyms

  1. Scientific name: Maranta arundinacea L.
  2. Sanskrit: Sita tavakshira
  3. Bengali: Ararut, Ararut, Jakhur, Jukhur, Tikhur Aararut, Tukhur
  4. English: Arrowroot Plant, True arrowroot, West Indian arrowroot, West Indian reed, St. Vincent arrowroot, Bermuda arrowroot, Maranta, Obedience plant
  5. Hindi: Araaruta
  6. Kannada: Araaruta
  7. Marathi: Tavakira
  8. Oriya: Araaruta
  9. Punjabi: Araaruta
  10. Tamil: Aruruttukkilangu
  11. Telugu: Palagunda
  12. Siddha: Koovaikizhangu, Kookaineer
  13. Sinhalese: Aralukpiti, Hulankiriya
  14. Chakma: Ararut, Pittamul, Pittapata Alu
  15. Khumi: Dotrucho
  16. Marma: Dhumpau, Fai Ruoi Uo, Fawraiou, Napiobai, Pring Tar Bai
  17. Murong: Hup Roap
  18. Tripura: Thalairu

Scientific Classification

All plants are scientifically classified into main 7 levels. These levels are Kingdom, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species. A genus comprise of many species and botanical name consists of Genus (uppercase) followed by Species (lowercase). Genus consists of many species which are closely related and have lots of similarities. Species is the lowest level and represents the group of same plant.

The botanical name of Arrowroot plant is Maranta arundinacea. It belongs to plant family Marantaceae. Below is given taxonomical classification of plant.

  • Kingdom: Plantae (comprising all living or extinct plants)
  • Subkingdom: Tracheobionta (have lignified tissues or xylem for conducting water and minerals)
  • Superdivision: Spermatophyta (produce seeds)
  • Class: Magnoliopsida (flowering plant producing an embryo with paired cotyledons)
  • Subclass: Zingiberidae
  • Order: Zingiberales
  • Family: Marantaceae
  • Genus: Maranta L.
  • Species: Maranta arundinacea L. – arrowroot

Synonyms

Maranta sylvatica Roscoe ex J.E. Smith

The English name, Arrowroot is derived from Arawak word, aru-aru which means meal of meals. Arawak people (American Indians of the Greater Antilles and South America) named it so as it is very starchy and nutritive. Also the tubers were also used to draw poison from the wounds caused by arrows.

Constituents of Maranta arundinacea

The tuber contains Starch (25-30%), moisture 64%, crude protein 1.6%, fat 0.2%, dextrin and sugars 2.1% and crude fibre 3.9%.

Ayurvedic Properties and Action

Ararota, is sweet in taste (Rasa), sweet after digestion (Vipaka), and is cool in effect (Virya) It is Sheet Virya. Sheet Virya or Cool potency herb, subdues Pitta (Bile) and Vata (Wind), gives nourishment to body and steadiness and supports building of body fluids.

  • Rasa (taste on tongue): Madhura (Sweet)
  • Guna (Pharmacological Action): Guru (Heavy), Snigdha (Unctuous)
  • Virya (Action): Shita (Cooling)
  • Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Madhura (Sweet)

Karma / Action

  • Pittahara: Pacifies Pitta Dosha
  • Balya: Increases strength
  • Vrishya: Increases the quantity of semen

It is Madhur Vipak (digests into sweet) and has building, moistening and nourishing effect on body. It is heavy to digest and reduces metabolism. Such herbs are cooling and reduce swelling, decreases Pitta and have Anabolic effect on body.

Important Medicinal Properties

Maranta arundinacea is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb.

Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.

  • Alexeteric: Counteracts an infection or toxin.
  • Antidysenteric: Relieving or preventing dysentery.
  • Antidote: Counteracts a poison
  • Aphrodisiac: Stimulates sexual desire.
  • Antibilious: Against biliousness.
  • Antipyretic/antifebrile/febrifuge: Effective against fever.
  • Demulcent: Relieving inflammation or irritation.
  • Depurative: Purifying agent.
  • Hypocholesterolemic: Reducing levels of cholesterol in the blood
  • Rubefacient: On topical application produces redness of the skin
  • Refrigerant: Cooling

Chief Indications

  1. Asthma
  2. Bronchitis, coughs
  3. Burning sensation
  4. Digestive impairment
  5. Dysentery, diarrhea
  6. Dyspepsia
  7. Disorders of blood
  8. Excessive thirst

Benefits of Arrowroot

  1. It is nutrient, emollient and demulcent for bowel complaints and diseases of the urinary organs.
  2. It is best suited for people with intestinal problems.
  3. It is easy to digest.
  4. It helps in gastrointestinal disorders such as gastritis.
  5. It is used in diarrhea, especially in children.
  6. It is the best source of easily absorbable starch.
  7. It is nourishing food for children, chronically ill and convalescents.
  8. It is urinary antiseptic.
  9. It is used as a binding agent in food preparation.
  10. It is preferred classical thickener for soups, sauces, puddings, cakes, jellies, etc. due to its neutral taste.

Medicinal Uses of Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea)

Maranta arundinacea or Arrowroot is a well-known food. It is used in kitchen in preparation of jams, jellies, cakes, baby food and many other items which require thickening agent.

Arrowroot has many medicinal uses as well. As it is nutritive starch that can be easily digested, it is given to baby and people recovering from an illness or medical treatment. Due to urinary antiseptic properties, arrowroot tea helps in urinary problems. When taken daily it helps to lower cholesterol.

Arrowroot has innumerable medicinal uses. It is safe and effective remedy with no known side-effects. It works due to presence of bio-active compounds such as alkaloids, carbohydrate, cardiac glycosides, amino acids, phenolic compounds, terpenoids, saponins, flavones and gum.

Below is listed few important therapeutic uses of this commonly used starch powder.

Bruises, swellings and pus in swellings

Arrowroot powder + turmeric powder, are applied topically.

Dysentery

About 10 gm starch boiled with about 200 ml water and sweetened with sugar is given in dysentery.

Food poisons and bites of venomous snakes

The expressed juice of the rhizome is an antidote.

Gastritis

Rhizome powder is given.

Gangrene, wounds from poisoned arrows, spider bites

Mashed rhizome is applied.

Leucorrhoea, as a diuretic, dry cough, rheumatism

Rhizome powder or decoction is helpful in leucorrhoea.

Recurrent digestive order of Children

Arrowroot powder boiled in water is given as food by adding milk and sugar.

Small pox

The poultice of arrowroot is applied.

Urinary problems, typhoid fever, bladder ulceration

Arrow root powder has cooling, soothing and demulcent action and therefore it helps in fever, ulcers, burning urination, excessive heat in body etc. The powder is boiled in milk, sugar is added as per taste and eaten as a food.

Urine infection

Juice extracted by smashing rhizome and root is taken by mixing with root extract of mango and banana tree.

Vegetable poison

Juice/ powder is given internally as antidote.

Dosage of Maranta arundinacea

10-30 gram of powder can be taken daily. Arrowroot powder is boiled in water/milk for oral administration.

Contraindications, Interactions, Side-effects and Warnings Maranta arundinacea

No toxic effect or adverse reaction is reported with recommended dose.

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