Also called gum acacia, acacia fiber is a soluble dietary fiber. For centuries, people have valued it for culinary purposes and medicinal applications. Today, the alternative health industry, pharmaceutical companies and food manufacturers use this natural fiber. You should always consult with a licensed herbalist or health care provider before taking acacia fiber.
Acacia fiber is commonly available as a fine, white, tasteless powder. It is extracted from the acacia tree, Acacia senegal, a small, spiny tree in the same family as peas and beans. The acacia is native to semi-arid regions of Africa, particularly Senegal and Sudan, where it is grown in “gum gardens,” according to the Center for New Crops and Plant Products at Purdue University. Acacia fiber is almost completely soluble in water, forming a viscous, mucilaginous solution.
Acacia fiber is produced from the gummy, mucilaginous sap that is extruded from the trunk of the acacia tree. According to authors Harvey W. Felter, M.D. and John Uri Lloyd, Ph. D., the sap of the acacia flows naturally from the bark of the tree in the form of a thick, frothy liquid. This sap quickly dries up and hardens into tear-shaped globules that are often referred to as “gum arabic.” In their book “King's American Dispensatory," the authors note that this secretion is most abundant during hot, dry seasons and from older trees. The hotter the weather, the more gum each acacia tree will yield.
In an online monograph, the Center for New Crops and Plant Products reports that acacia fiber is useful in the treatment of intestinal ailments such as diarrhea, dysentery and inflammation of the intestinal tract. According to Heather Van Vorous, a food writer and author of the book “Eating for IBS,” it is highly soluble dietary fiber that promotes intestinal regularity by preventing and treating both constipation and diarrhea. It works by combining with the fecal matter in the colon to form a thick, wet gel that moves naturally and comfortably through the intestinal tract.
In addition to its potent laxative properties, acacia fiber has natural, demulcent properties that are effective in the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel syndrome, according to OrganicAcacia.com. As a demulcent, acacia fiber has a soothing, healing action on inflamed or irritated cells, particularly mucous membranes in the throat, stomach and bowels, by forming a protective coating over these surfaces. According to the Center for New Crops and Plant Products at Purdue University, acacia fiber also has excipient properties which make it useful in the formulation of drugs as a medicinally inactive carrier for the active compounds of a drug.
According to the Center for New Crops and Plant Products, acacia fiber is non-toxic when ingested orally. However, some people are allergic to its dust and may suffer severe asthmatic attacks or develop skin lesions when they come into contact with it.
- Center for New Crops and Plant Products, Purdue University: Acacia Senegal
- "King's American Dispensatory;" Harvey Wickes Felter, M.D. and John Uri Lloyd, Phr. M., Ph. D.; 1909
- “Eating for IBS;” Heather Van Vorous; 2000
- acacia branch image by Lucian Muset from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.