The healthy, prebiotic benefits of Gum Arabic (from a Biblical tree)

February 21, 2019


Gum arabic (or acacia gum, Indian gum, etc.) is sap from the Acacia tree. This is likely the tree that our King James Bible calls the Shittim tree. The wood from this tree was used for the sacred ark of the covenant, the table, the altars, etc:

Exodus 25:10 And they shall make an ark of shittim wood...
23 Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood...

Exodus 27:1 And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood...



"Shittah-tree, Shittim (Heb. Shittdh), is without doubt correctly referred to some species of Acacia...The Acacia Seyal, like the A. Arabica, yields the well-known substance called gum arabic…"
(William Smith, Dictionary of the Bible, 1908)

Numbers 25:1 And Israel abode in Shittim...

"[Shittim] called from a grove of acacia trees which lined the eastern side of the Jordan..."
(JFB Commentary)


"The word was originally shinTah, derived from the Arabic sanT, now a name confined to one species of acacia...The curiously twisted pods and the masses of gum arabic which exude in many parts are also peculiar features. The trees yield a valuable, hard, close-grained timber, not readily attacked by insects."
(International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1915)

"It is thought that this wood is the black acacia, because that, as they say, this is the only tree found growing in the deserts of Arabia."
(A Dictionary of the Holy Bible, 1759)

"It is said, that…the Gums of Arabia come from the black acacia, which we take to be the shittimwood, whereof there is such frequent mention made by Moses."
(A New Complete English Dictionary, 1760)

"This and other acacias yield gum-arabic."
(Topics for Teachers, 1869)


"'The acacia trees of the valley were thickly covered with gum-arabic. The Arabs often bring to Cairo loads of it, which they collect in these mountains. I found it of a somewhat sweet and rather agreeable taste. The Bedouins pretend that upon journeys it is a preventive of thirst, and that the person who chews it may pass a whole day without feeling any inconvenience from the want of water…In the summer they collect the gum-arabic, which they sell at Cairo…My companions eat up all the small pieces that had been left upon the trees by the roadside. I found it to be quite tasteless; but I was assured that it was very nutritive…' - Burckhardt's Syria…"
(Mary Fawler Maude, Scripture Natural History, 1848)

Gum arabic helps cakes rise and form a spongy texture. It is also used in yogurt, soft drinks, chewing gum, gummy candies, etc. It is a natural emulsifier; this means that it keeps the ingredients from separating, so that they stay uniformly suspended in the mixture. The other unhealthy ingredients in junk food, colas, etc., sadly neutralize most of the positive benefits of the small amounts of gum arabic!:


"In confectionery, it is mixed with sugar and formed into lozenges and gumdrops."
(A Practical Flora for Schools and Colleges, 1894)

It therefore works great with healthy sweeteners, such as honey, coconut/palm sugars, etc. It dissolves in warm or cold water.



Gum Arabic is often mixed with water and used as a weight-loss aid due to its fiber and other properties. It promotes satiety and fullness after meals, regulates hormone secretion, fights insulin resistance, etc:

"Effects of Gum Arabic ingestion on body mass index and body fat percentage in healthy adult females: two-arm randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind trial...Pre and post analysis among the study group showed significant reduction in BMI by 0.32 (95% CI: 0.17 to 0.47; P<0.0001) and body fat percentage by 2.18% (95% CI: 1.54 to 2.83; P<0.0001) following regular intake of 30 gm /day Gum Arabic for six weeks..."
(Nutr J. 2012 Dec 15;11)

"GA [gum arabic] may reduce body weight via lowering caloric density of food...decreasing fat absorption in the small intestine...and limiting intestinal cholesterol and fat absorption...GA has attracted attention because of its health beneficial functions such as anti-obesity properties...GA inhibits absorption of glucose in the intestine..."
(Middle East Fertility Society Journal, Volume 21, Issue 2, June 2016)

[See also: Fremont, G., Glycemic Index and Insulin Index values of Fibregum enriched crispbreads 2006; Castellani F. Fibregum (acacia gum) helps reduce the glycemic index of food products. AgroFood Industry Hi-tech 2006]


"The objective of the present study was to evaluate the thyroid hormone stimulating efficacy of Acacia senegal (Gum Arabic) bark extract in 6-n-propyl-2-thiouracil (PTU)-induced hypothyroid albino rats... Oral administration of A. senegal bark extract caused a highly significant increase (p≤0.001) in serum triiodothyronine (T3) and tetraiodothyronine (T4), and significant changes were also observed in organ's weight with biochemical parameters as compared to hypothyroid albino rats and results were approximate to the standard drug Eltroxin... These results evaluate that ethanolic extract of A.senegal bark helps to compensate or increases the serum thyroxin level in management of hypothyroidism...Hypothyroidism has a number of signs and symptoms such as depression, anxious mood, weight gain, and poor ability to concentrate...In the present study, Albino rats (R. norvegicus) of Sprague Dawley strain were used and hypothyroidism was induced...The present study concludes that the activity of A. senegal bark extract is just like Eltroxin which is beneficial to treat hypothyroidism, and it has thyroid hormone stimulating activity which increases the serum T3 and T4 levels."
(Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research, Vol 12, Issue 1, 2019)



"Gum arabic improves semen quality and oxidative stress capacity in alloxan induced diabetes rats…The treatment of GA significantly (P < 0.05) increased semen quality compared the diabetic and control groups. Similarly, the treatment of GA significantly (P < 0.05) increased the activities of catalase, superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase compared to diabetic and control groups…Gum arabic (GA) is an edible, dried sticky exudate from Acacia seyal and Acacia senegal, which is rich in soluble dietary fiber…In the Middle East and North Africa, it has been given orally as traditional medicine by different communities for centuries…It has powerful antioxidant properties…"
(Asian Pacific Journal of Reproduction, Volume 5, Issue 5, September 2016)



"Gum Arabic supplementation improved antioxidant status and alters expression of oxidative stress gene in ovary of mice fed high fat diet…Obesity is a global health concern associated with high morbidity and mortality…Gum Arabic (GA, Acacia senegal) considered as a dietary fiber that reduces body fat deposition…Our findings suggest that GA may protect ovaries by improvement of antioxidant capacity; thus, it may be useful to ameliorate the fertility complications in obese patient…This imbalance between pro-oxidants and antioxidants resulted in a number of reproductive diseases for example, polycystic ovary syndrome,  endometriosis, and infertility. OS also induces pregnancy complications such as recurrent pregnancy loss, spontaneous abortion, and preeclampsia. Recent studies have revealed that extremes of body weight gain and lifestyle factors such as high caloric intake promote excess free radical production, which ultimately affects fertility…HFD supplementation significantly increased body weigh compared to the low and control groups. However, the supplementation of GA significantly (P < 0.01) decreased body weight over the time compared to the low, HFD and control groups...Supplementation of GA significantly reduced (P < 0.05) visceral adipose tissue compared to low and high fat diet groups...Likewise, the supplementation of GA significantly (P < 0.05) reduced ovary weight when compared to the low and HFD groups...Moreover, supplementation of GA significantly (P < 0.05) decreased food intake over the time when compared to the low and control groups...Supplementation of GA significantly (P < 0.05) decreased plasma cholesterol total, plasma LDL, VLDL and blood glucose concentrations compared to the HFD and low groups...the treatment of GA significantly protected the ovary of HFD mice from degenerative changes when compared to control and low groups...Gum Arabic (GA), an edible dried sticky exudate from A. seyal and A. senegal is rich in non-viscous soluble fiber...It is known to be particularly rich in antioxidants..."
(Middle East Fertility Society Journal, Volume 21, Issue 2, June 2016)



Gum arabic promotes healthy gut flora:

"Acacia gum was shown to produce a greater increase in bifidobacteria and lactobacilli than an equal dose of inulin, and resulted in fewer gastrointestinal side effects, such as gas and bloating..."
(Nutrients. 2013 Apr)

"In one randomized, double-blind, controlled study, 12 96 healthy volunteers received 6g daily of acacia gum (as Fibregum from Nexira) or fructooligosaccharides (FOS), or 3g each of acacia gum and FOS. After one week, fecal bifidobacteria increased by seven times with acacia gum compared to the initial value...Lactobacilli and total lactic acid bacteria groups were significantly increased with acacia gum at the dose of 10 g/d compared to control without affecting bacteroides (pathogenic bacteria). The bifidogenic effect was even more pronounced (10 times increase) in subjects having low initial Bifidobacteria count. The effect was also significant at the dose of 15 g/d...In addition, multiple other studies have demonstrated that acacia gum acts as a prebiotic, increasing the growth of desirable probiotic bacteria...Furthermore, it should be noted that, after a few days, no acacia gum is found in rat or human feces, meaning that acacia gum is totally broken down by colonic bacteria in the gut, and then fermented...As it turns out, this probiotic function has a positive role to play regarding gut barrier function...In addition to increasing Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli counts, it also helped increase the anti-inflammatory bacterium, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii... acacia gum did not induce flatulence below the dose of 30 g/day and daily doses higher than 50 g/day did not provoke any abdominal cramps or diarrhea..."


It is also used to alleviate IBS symptoms, etc. Many people with digestive issues, are lacking prebiotics (e.g., green bananas, garlic, onions, Jerusalem Artichokes, gum arabic, etc):

"…it is prescribed in stomach difficulties, dysentery, and other bowel disorders; and is used in throat troubles, and for cough mixtures."
(A Practical Flora for Schools and Colleges, 1894)

It also reduces dental plaque, and so much more!

It can often be found in the "bulk herb" sections of health food stores. Search for some online recipes, or mix with shakes, etc.  
















































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