Common names: St. John’s bread, Locust bean
Botanical name: Ceratonia siliqua
© Martin Wall
Parts used and where grown
Carob is originally from the Mediterranean region and the western part of Asia. Today it is
grown mostly in Mediterranean countries. The gum from carob seeds is called locust bean gum.
The dried, powdered pods of the plant are used in herbal medicine.
Carob has been used in
connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual
health concern for complete information):
Historical or traditional use (may
or may not be supported by scientific studies)
Carob has long been eaten as food. John the Baptist is said to have eaten it, and thus it
is sometimes called St. John’s bread. Powdered carob pods have been used to treat diarrhea for centuries.
The main constituents of carob are sugars and tannins. Carob tannins have an astringent
effect in the gastrointestinal tract making them useful for treating diarrhea. They may also bind to (and thereby
inactivate) toxins and inhibit growth of bacteria. The sugars make carob gummy and able to act
as a thickener to absorb water—another action that may help decrease diarrhea. A
double-blind clinical trial found carob useful for treating diarrhea in infants.1 A
less rigorous trial showed it did not help adults with traveler’s
How much is usually taken?
Some trials have used up to 15 grams of carob powder for treating diarrhea in children.3 Adults should take
at least 20 grams a day for treating diarrhea. The powder can be mixed in applesauce or with
sweet potatoes. Carob should be taken with
plenty of water. Please note that infant diarrhea must be monitored by a healthcare
professional and that proper hydration with a high electrolyte fluid is critical during acute
Are there any side effects or interactions?
Carob is generally safe. Only rarely have allergic reactions been reported.
At the time of writing, there were no well-known drug interactions
1. Leob H, Vandenplas Y, Wursch P, Guesry P. Tannin-rich carob pod for
the treatment of acute-onset diarrhea. J Pediatr Gastroent Nutr
2. Hostettler M, Steffen R, Tschopp A. Efficacy of tolerability of
insoluble carob fraction in the treatment of travellers’ diarrhea. J Diarr Dis
3. Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. Rocklin,
CA: Prima Publishing, 1996, 206.