Botanical: Amorphophallus konjac (also known as Amorphophallus rivieri)
Family: Araceae (arum) - Arecaceae (palm)
Other common names: Konjac, Konjac Root, Snake Plant, Devil's Tongue, Doo Bulbs, Mannan, Konjac, Corpse Flowers, Voodoo Lily, Snake Palm
Glucomannan is a calorie-free, natural plant fiber that helps to remove fat from the colon wall and gently cleanse the intestines and relieve constipation. It also increases bulk in the stomach (and intestines) and gives dieters a feeling of fullness, which helps to reduce the appetite and assist in weight loss programs. Glucomannan fiber may also be beneficial in lowering total cholesterol and regulating blood sugar levels. We need fiber in our diets every day for good health, and Glucomannan supplements are an easy way to fulfill that need.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Glucomannan is an excellent, natural dietary fiber that picks up and removes fat from the colon wall, and it is derived from the starchy tuber of the amorphophallis plant, which is sometimes also called the konjac plant. It is a perennial that is native to Asia, mostly China and Japan and also grown in Korea. Each plant produces one large tuberous root (generally over ten pounds in weight) that resembles a beet, and puts up a thick stem with one enormous leaf and one evil-smelling flower or spadix, which is pollinated by flies. The bark of the plant has the appearance of snakeskin, which has given rise to one of its common names, Snake Plant, and it may be found in light woodlands or cultivated beds in rich, moist, loamy soils in dappled shade, but will also survive in sun and either acid or alkaline soils. The root produces the excellent dietary fiber that has been used as a nutritious supplement in Oriental foods, such as noodles (shirataki) and tofu, and is also included in the gelling agent, konnyaku, in Japanese cuisine. It is considered a health food in Japan that is used to maintain healthy intestinal function. An interesting side-story tells us that Konjac powder was added to the first national currency of Japan in the late 1800s to prevent counterfeiting, but it was stopped after rats began to eat the bills. Glucomannan forms a thick, gooey gel when exposed to fluids and results in a soft mass that moves through the intestines in approximately twelve hours' time. It is not digested by the body, but produces a bulkier stool that tends to cause peristalsis in the intestines (muscle contractions), resulting in less pressure and more easily expelled waste as it passes through the colon (with much less straining). The dried corm (short, vertical, swollen underground plant stem) of the konjac plant contains around forty percent Glucomannan gum. Glucomannan is mainly a straight-chain polymer, with a small amount of branching. It has a very high molecular-weight polysaccharide made of d-glucose and d-mannose sugars. This relatively complex carbohydrate is a polymer made up of many monosaccharides joined by glycosidic linkages. Other constituents in Glucomannan include fiber, protein, fat, calcium, phosphorus and iron.
Glucomannan is an emollient, polysaccharide soluble fiber that helps relieve constipation. Its ability to swell and form a thick gel when exposed to water helps to form a bulky mass in the intestines that cause the intestinal muscles to contract. This action produces an easy and soothing passage of the stool through the intestines and colon without the usual pressure and straining associated with constipation and is thought to decrease fecal transit time. As a gentle herbal colon cleanser, it is used to aid in the elimination of toxins from the colon that are produced during digestion and may also be helpful in cases of diverticulosis and other bowel disorders. Since it is often difficult to include enough fiber in our daily diets, Glucomannan is an excellent and easy way to promote regularity and a cleansed colon.
With regard to weight loss, clinical evidence suggests Glucomannan may be beneficial. Because it is a soluble fiber, it absorbs water to form a viscous- gel-like mass. Glucomannan appears to help by expanding greatly to many times its own weight and occupying calorie-free space in the stomach, which makes people feel full and satisfied, and thereby reduces the appetite. By picking up and removing fat from the colon wall, it is thought to be beneficial for obesity as it efficiently moves fat from the body.
Glucomannan is believed to regulate blood sugar levels (both low and high blood sugar), which may be of great help in cases of diabetes (and obesity). It has been shown to improve the lipid profile and alleviate the fasting blood glucose levels of Type 2 diabetics. It is slow moving and not digested by the body but forms a bulky, soft mass that is said to absorb dietary sugar and insulin and help to regulate variable blood sugar levels that often occur after a meal. There are also many current studies that show promise for Glucomannan in the treatment of pregnancy-related diabetes and possible help in cases of hypoglycemia for those who have undergone recent stomach surgery.
Regarding good heart health, a fiber-rich diet is highly recommended, and Glucomannan fiber has shown excellent test results in helping to lower total serum cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, while increasing the good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Lower cholesterol is said to reduce platelet aggregation (clotting) and be beneficial in the treatment of high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis, which could lead to strokes and heart attacks. Among the positive studies is one published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1995, entitled "Effect of Short-Term Ingestion of Konjac Glucomannan on Serum Cholesterol in Healthy Men." In this experiment, 3.9 grams of Konjac eaten daily reduced total cholesterol by ten percent and LDL cholesterol by 7.2 percent.
It is recommended that Glucomannan Herbal Supplement and other medications be taken at different times, as fiber interferes with the absorption of other medications. Taking Glucomannan may interfere with the actions of blood sugar medicines resulting in the return of symptoms otherwise controlled by prescription medicines; this includes any change in blood sugar control. Glucomannan may produce gas and diarrhea in some people, but these symptoms usually disappear after several days or with a reduction in dosage. It is recommended that plenty of water be drunk with Glucomannan, as the fiber tends to expand and may cause breathing problems or lodging in the throat. Taking Glucomannan supplements without adequate liquids may cause it to swell, and, in extreme cases, cause choking. Do not take this product if you have difficulty swallowing. People with esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus) or any other narrowing or obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract should not take Glucomannan.