Arrowroot is a starchy substance which is extracted from the root of a tropical plant called Maranta arundinacea. When Arrowroot is harvested, it looks like other underground tubers such as cassava, yucca or kudzu, which are oblong in shape. They are made of about 23% starch. The roots are rinsed, drained, and made into a pulp. It is then passed through a coarse cloth and the insoluble, pure starch is allowed to settle at the bottom. This starch is dried in the sun and thus arrowroot powder is formed. This powder is fine, clear white, and odorless, and is also used as a thickening agent in food industries.
Arrowroot helps in digestion and regulates the bowel elimination. Its high starch content softens stools for those suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Arrowroot starch is an effective remedy for diarrhea and other gastrointestinal ailments too. It can provide relief in nausea and replaces the nutrients lost due to diarrhea and vomiting.
Calcium ash is the only starchy substance in arrowroot. This calcium chloride, in the form of calcium, is essential for the maintenance of proper acid and alkali balance in the human body.
It is suitable for consumption by infants, because it is more easily digestible than other starches. It can be prepared as a jelly to feed infants who are newly introduced to weaning food.
Arrowroot is a great alternative for people suffering from gluten allergy/ intolerance. It can be used as an alternative for wheat flour which is why it is a popular ingredient in gluten-free baking.
Arrowroot is also used as an antidote for some poisons in many regions. Crushed arrowroot rhizomes are applied on the wounds/ insect bites and are believed to draw out poison effectively from the bites of scorpions, spiders, and other poisonous insects.
Fresh arrowroot is a good source of folate which is essential during pregnancy. A 100 gm serving of arrowroot contains about 338 µg or 84% of the recommended daily intake of folate. Apart from vitamin B12, folate is another vital component in DNA synthesis. The adequate consumption of folate during the preconception phase and during pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects and other congenital malformations in the fetus.
Arrowroot is low in calories and fat-free. Thus, it can be used for weight loss. Use it in sauces and soups without stressing over calories and fat.
Arrowroot is a good source of potassium too, which is needed to help regulate the heart rate and blood pressure.
Arrowroot is used as a herbal treatment for diseases like small pox and gangrene that can cause skin infection and itchiness.
In many parts of South America, arrowroot starch is used as a baby powder. It is a lightweight, white powder. When applied on the skin, it gives a soft and smooth feel.
Arrowroot starch is used as a thickening agent in formulations like talcum powders and moisturizers . In cosmetics, it enables active ingredients to penetrate through the surface of your skin as it is a great moisture-absorbent. Arrowroot is also used in body powders to make your skin soft and smooth. It makes your skin by enabling it to absorb excess moisture.
Arrowroot powder is light, smooth and absorbent in nature which is why it is used in making body powders. When applied topically, it helps keep moisture away from blemishes, rashes and other sores/ wounds.
Arrowroot can be used to control moisture while dealing with diseases such as athlete’s foot. However, it does not possess anti fungal properties, so it may just be used for controlling moisture.
Arrowroot possesses excellent healing qualities too. It can be made into a paste and applied topically to treat rhizomes, ulcers and wounds. It is also used as a source of nourishment and for treatment of sunburns.
Arrowroot is often used in hair dyes because of its excellent thickening properties and ability to blend easily with other ingredients.