Acacia senegal is deciduous small, to medium sized tree that is native to the arid, sandy regions of Africa and now naturalized in the middle east and Australia. The name ‘acacia’ is derived from the Greek word ‘akis’, which means point or barb and alludes to the various thorns that line Acacia’s branches. A member of the Fabaceae plant family, or the Pea & Bean family, Acacia has oppositely branched leaves which are comprised of numerous leaflets, and its fruits mature within a seed pod. Acacia is in the Mimosoideae sub-family, and is closely related to mesquite (Prosopis spp.), whose wood is used for flavor, the sensitive plant (Mimosa pudica), whose leaves close when touched, and Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin), whose bark is used as a nervine and to support sleep. A. senegal is an important plant for the indigenous Afar people of Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia. A preparation of the leaves is used nasally for immune health, a preparation of the bark is used as eye-drops, and a preparation of the root is used topically and orally to support blood flow and healthy arousal. In an ethnobotanical study done in Burkina Faso, the gum of Acacia senegal is reported by traditional healers as being supportive to a healthy weight. In the Limpopo Province of South Africa, A. senegal is utilized by Bapedi traditional healers to promote proper bowel function.
What is Acacia Used For?
Gum acacia, also known as Gum Arabic, is a water-soluble dietary fiber derived from the branches and stems of A. senegal, is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA and is most commonly used as an emulsifier, thicker, and stabilizer in food products. Gum Arabic is an electrolyte-rich fiber that is not digested, but rather fermented by the gut biome into various short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Consumption of fibers like gum Arabic have numerous health benefits. Gum Arabic acts as a prebiotic, providing food for beneficial gut bacteria such as Bifidobacteria, and Lactobacilli. Since dietary fibers are not digested and absorbed, they do not contribute caloric content but will promote feelings of satiation, which can help to reduce food intake. Dietary fibers also help to slow the emptying of the stomach and the absorption of food, lessening the glycemic load of a meal. In a study done on 126 healthy women, regular gum Arabic supplementation was shown to support a healthy body fat composition. Gum Arabic supplementation has also been shown to have beneficial effects on cholesterol levels. Bile salts, which are produced by the liver using cholesterol and emulsify dietary fats, are often reabsorbed in the large intestine. In a study done on 110 adults, gum Arabic supplementation was shown to support healthy total cholesterol levels, supporting the theory that gum Arabic fibers bind to bile salts, leading to their excretion and preventing reabsorption. Gum Arabic supplementation was shown to increase serum levels of butyrate, which has been shown to support healthy levels of inflammatory markers, and healthy digestive function.
Traditional Health Benefits of Acacia
Additional Information on this Herb
High molecular weight polysaccharides, oligosaccharides, and glycoproteins
Exudate of stems and branches
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Not for use during pregnancy. If you have a medical condition or take pharmaceutical drugs please consult with your doctor prior to use
- This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.
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