Locust bean is an ingredient commonly found in both food and medicine. It is another name for the carob fruit, but it is important not to mix it up with jacaranda caroba, which is also known as carob tree. These are two different types of carob, which is why many people simply use the name locust bean in order to avoid the confusion altogether.
Locust bean also has a number of other potential names that can be found on the ingredients list of a supplement or food. This can include carouge, locust bean gum, pain de Saint Jean-Baptiste, sugar pods, figuier d’Égypte, algarrobo, garrofero, and several others.
Locust bean is actually a type of fruit. In terms of its medicinal uses, it is most commonly incorporated into supplements for digestive issues such as heartburn, diarrhea, nutrient absorption in the intestines (such as with sprue or celiac disease) as well as obesity, high cholesterol and vomiting during pregnancy.
In food, this ingredient is sometimes used as a substitute for chocolate in order to add a similar flavor to a recipe. Its extracts and flours are also used as ingredients in both foods and medicinal products.
It is believed to work through the tannins it contains. These can enhance the effectiveness of certain digestive enzymes that occur naturally in the body. It is for that reason that it is often used for accelerating weight loss and for digestive issues.
According to scientific research, locust bean is potentially effective as a diarrhea treatment as well as one for high cholesterol that does not appear to be genetic. Published studies have suggested that it has considerable potential in those areas of treatment.
However, when it comes to familial hypercholesterolemia (a hereditary high cholesterol condition) the research is insufficient to know whether or not it will truly work. The same can be said about using locust bean as an obesity treatment. While early research looks promising, it is far from conclusive. Research also hasn’t gone so far as to adequately prove that it can be helpful for sprue, celiac disease, heartburn or even vomiting during pregnancy.
When eaten as a part of a recipe as food, or when taken orally for medicinal purposes, locust bean is considered to be safe for the vast majority of healthy people. It isn’t known whether or not it affects the baby if taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding a baby.