St. John's Bread or Carob Bean
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(commonly known as Carob Bean)
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Squawberry  |  St. John's Plant

Botanical:  Ceratonia siliqua
Family:  Fabaceae (pea)
Other common names:   Carob, Algarroba, John's Bread, Locust Pods

Troubled by diarrhea?  High fiber and tannin-rich properties in St. John's Bread may account for its recent popularity and reputation as a remarkable remedy for treating this common ailment.

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.

St. John's Bread is found in pods that grow on a dome-shaped evergreen tree with dark green compound leaves.  The tree may reach a towering height of nearly fifty feet and is native to the Mediterranean region of southwestern Europe and western Asia, and it has been widely cultivated in those areas since ancient times for its edible pods, which are rich in protein and sugar.  St. John's Bread was eaten in ancient Egypt, and as a matter of fact, it was not only a common sweetener, but it was also used in the hieroglyph symbol for for "sweet" (nedjem).  The pods are the so-called "locusts" that Saint John the Baptist ate while he wandered and prayed in the desert; hence, we have one of the common names for St. John's Bread, Locust Pods.  The seeds, which are remarkably uniform in mass, were used in ancient times as the original weight units for gold used by jewelers and goldsmiths and from which, we presume, the term "carat" is derived, endowing St. John's Bread with yet another of its common names, Carob. 

St. John's Bread has also been planted as forage for animals and probably sustained the horses of Lord Allenby's cavalry during World War I and the Duke of Wellington's mounts in Spain during the Peninsular Campaign.  The pods were the most important source of sugar before sugar cane and sugar beets became widely available, but nowadays, the seeds are processed for the use in cosmetics, curing tobacco, drinks, paper making and, of course, herbal medicine.  In modern-day Egypt, it is used as a snack or treat, and St. John's Bread is also traditionally eaten on the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat.  Moreover, the crushed pods are used to make a refreshing drink with a distinctive taste.  Since St. John's Bread was said to possess soothing properties, it was at one time used by singers to clear the throat before performing.  Some of the constituents in St. John's Bread include protein, tannins (polyphenols), carbohydrates and fiber.

Beneficial Uses:
Because St. John's Bread contains tannins, it is considered a remarkable antidiarrheal, and it is highly recommended that travelers pack St. John's Bread when visiting foreign countries.  St. John's Bread is considered a fiber-rich supplement and abundant in one class of tannins (polyphenols) that not only help to stop diarrhea, but also manifest strong antiviral and antiseptic properties, making it effective when given to treat bacterial-induced diarrhea.

According to Dr. Qi Dai, assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, a ten-year study found that the particularly strong antioxidant effects of the polyphenols, which may be found in St. John's Bread, act to reduce the incidence of Alzheimer's disease.

St. John's Bread is considered a demulcent, a medicine with soothing, mucilaginous qualities that shield mucous membranes from irritating substances.

In France, some early research indicates that St. John's Bread may be helpful in stimulating inactive kidneys and may be effective in cases of chronic kidney failure.

St. John's Bread is a wonderful substitute for Cocoa, because it contains fewer calories, is naturally sweet and, unlike cocoa or sweet chocolate, is caffeine-free and non-addictive.  In addition, it is usually cheaper.  Also unlike cocoa and chocolate, St. John's Bread does not interfere with the body's assimilation of calcium.  St. John's Bread (as carob beans) may be roasted and ground for use as a Coffee substitute, and it is a versatile additive used to flavor jams, liqueurs, juices, cigarettes and other food products.

Currently, there are no known warnings or contraindications with the use of St. John's Bread Herbal Supplement, but some people have reported red eyes or thick discharge from the eyes, or sticky eyelids in the morning upon awakening.

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