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(Maranta arundinacea)

While in vacations in St Martin last week, I was lucky enough to participate in the “Jollification of Arrowroot” organized by the Nature Valley Association of Colombier. The goal of the association is to preserve and share the heritage of St Martin. The traditional cultivation of arrowroot is passed down from mothers to grandmothers but Vivian Roberts, the president of Nature Valley Association of Columbier, sadly reported that the youngest generations tend to loose interest in this cultural staple. Arrowroot requires care. It is harvested around March. The cultivators dig up the root and replant new shoots at the same time. The roots are washed, peeled and pounded into a pulp. The pulp is rinsed with water few times and strained through a cloth. Once the water is removed, the starch is laid out to dry in the sun on big sheets.

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I didn’t know that Arrowroot was so much more than a thickener agent. First, you have to know that it is gluten free which makes it a very nice wheat replacement for sauces or puddings. It can also be cooked with water to nourish babies with a very sensitive stomach. Arrowroot has actually been used as an infant formula in the place of breast milk or to help the baby adjust after weaning. Compared to other starches, arrowroot is believed to be the easiest to digest. His demulcent properties also make this herb a mild laxative. It can also be used as a poultice for small pox sores, or acne and as an infusion to aid urinary tract infections. According to Vivian, the people of Columbier would clean their jewelry and starch their clothing with it. They also use the plant to alleviate nausea and to replenish nutrients lost through diarrhea and vomiting.

I really encourage you to try this gentle herb, especially as no side effects are linked to arrowroot and it is not known to have any adverse interactions with drugs according to Wikipedia.


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