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Acacia

Scientific Name(s): Acacia senegal (L.) Willd.
Common Name(s): Acacia arabica, Acacia gum, Acacia vera, Egyptian thorn, Gum Senegal, Gummae mimosae, Gummi africanum, Kher, Somali gum, Sudan gum arabic, Yellow thorn

Clinical Overview

Use

Acacia gum has been used in pharmaceuticals as a demulcent. It is used topically for healing wounds and inhibits the growth of periodontic bacteria and the early deposition of plaque.

A probiotic effect (bifidogenic) of gum acacia has been reported along with increased satiety and decreased body weight in a limited number of clinical trials; however, no effect on lipid or glucose profiles has been demonstrated.

Dosing

Clinical trials are generally lacking. One trial used gum arabic (as A. senegal) 30 g daily for 6 weeks as a dietary supplement to reduce weight.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Allergic reactions have been reported. Adverse effects reported in clinical trials include unfavorable sensation in the mouth, early morning nausea, mild diarrhea, and bloating.

Toxicology

Acacia is essentially nontoxic when ingested and is generally recognized as safe (GRAS).

Botany

The acacia tree (A. senegal; syn. with Acacia verek Guill et Perr.) is a thorny, scraggly tree that grows approximately 4.5 m tall. It is most abundant in regions of Africa, especially in the Republic of Sudan. A distinguishing feature of the species is the presence of triple spines at the branchlet base. During times of drought, the bark of the tree splits, exuding a sap that dries in small droplets or tears. Historically, these hardened sap tears served as the major source of acacia gum, but modern commercial acacia gum is derived by tapping trees periodically and collecting the resin semimechanically.Khan 2009, USDA 2015 Trees of the genera Albizia and Combretum are often confused with acacia, but gums from these species should not be used as substitutes for acacia gum.Anderson 1990

History

Acacia gum has long been used in traditional medicine and everyday applications. The Egyptians used the material as glue and as a base for pain relievers. Arabic physicians treated a wide variety of ailments with the gum, resulting in the alternative name "gum arabic."Digest 1986 Today, it is used widely in the pharmaceutical industry as a demulcent and in the food industry to give body and texture to processed food products. It also is used to stabilize emulsions. The fibers of the bark are used to make cordage.Duke 2002 The gum also has been administered intravenously (IV) to counteract low blood pressure following surgery and to treat edema associated with nephrosis, but because IV administration was found to cause renal and liver damage, as well as allergic reactions, it was abandoned.Morton 1977

Chemistry

Acacia gum is a brittle, odorless, and generally tasteless material that contains a number of neutral sugars, acids, calcium, and other electrolytes.Khan 2009 The main component of the gum is arabin, the calcium salt of the polysaccharide arabic acid.Evans 1989 The gum is built upon a backbone of D-galactose units, with side chains of D-glucuronic acid having L-rhamnose or L-arabinose terminal units. The molecular weight of the gum is in the range of 200,000 to 600,000 daltons. It is soluble in water, but insoluble in alcohol.Khan 2009 Acacia gum contains a peroxidase enzyme, which is typically destroyed by brief exposure to heat. If not inactivated, this enzyme forms colored complexes with certain amines and phenols and catalyzes the oxidation of many pharmaceutical products, including alkaloids and some vitamins.Khan 2009

The quality and grade of acacia gum is variable depending on growing conditions and collection method.Evans 1989 A comprehensive analysis, including nuclear magnetic resonance spectra for 35 samples of gum arabic, has been published to serve as the basis for international standardization of acacia gum.Anderson 1991

Uses and Pharmacology

Antimicrobial

In mice infected with malaria, gum arabic decreased parasitemia and increased survival by an unknown mechanism.Ballal 2011, Kurup 1992, Nasir 2013 In vitro studies suggest high concentrations are required for effect.Ballal 2011, Kurup 1992 Conversely, acacia gum reduces the antibacterial effectiveness of the preservative methyl-p-hydroxybenzoate against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, presumably by offering physical barrier protection to the microbial cells from the action of the preservative.Ballal 2011, Kurup 1992

Dermatology

Acacia gum is used in topical preparations to promote wound healing.Bhatnagar 2013

Diabetes

Animal data

Gum acacia added to porridge reduced postprandial blood glucose increases in mice.Hu 2014 In diabetic mice, gum acacia decreased food and fluid intake, but did not modify body weight.Nasir 2013

Clinical data

Increased satiety was observed in a clinical study evaluating different doses of gum acacia. Reductions of the order of 100 to 200 kcal were reported with doses ranging from gum acacia 5 to 40 g.Calame 2011 A clinical trial of healthy females (N = 120) reported decreased body mass index and body fat following consumption of gum arabic (A. senegal) 30 g daily for 6 weeks.Babiker 2012 No effects on insulin or glucose blood concentrations were found in a study using gum acacia and pectin in patients (N = 21) with metabolic syndrome.Pouteau 2010

GI effects

Animal data

In rodent models of chronic diarrhea, gum acacia preserved glucose and electrolyte levels and hydration.Khan 2009 A study in rats demonstrated a protective effect of gum acacia against meloxicam-induced GI insult. No pharmacological interaction with meloxicam with consequent effect on absorption of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug was found.Abd El-Mawla 2011

Clinical data

A probiotic effect (bifidogenic) of gum acacia has been reported.Hu 2014, Slavin 2013 Increased satiety was observed in a clinical study evaluating different doses of gum acacia. Reductions of the order of 100 to 200 kcal were reported with doses ranging from gum acacia 5 to 40 g.Calame 2011

A clinical study (N = 189) found no change in fecal incontinence frequency with gum acacia (reported as arabica) versus psyllium.Bliss 2014, Bliss 2011 The same researchers found increased fermentation with the gum in another clinical study.Bliss 2013

Hyperlipidemia

Animal data

Binding of gum acacia to fatty acids has been demonstrated in vitro, potentially decreasing dietary lipid absorption.Fang 2010 Studies in rodents have produced equivocal results.Khan 2009

Clinical data

When administered for periods of 4 to 12 weeks to hypercholesterolemic patients or those with metabolic syndrome, acacia gum had no effect on the plasma profile.Haskell 1992, Jensen 1993, Pouteau 2010

Periodontal disease

Animal data

Whole gum mixtures of acacia inhibit the growth of periodontic bacteria, including Porphyromonas gingivalis and Prevotella intermedia, when added to culture medium at concentrations of 0.5% to 1%.Clark 1993 The erosive effects of citric acid on enamel were muted in vitro when mixed with gum acacia.Beyer 2010

Clinical data

At a concentration of 0.5%, acacia whole gum mixture inhibited bacterial protease enzymes, suggesting acacia may be useful in limiting the development of periodontal disease. In addition, chewing an acacia-based gum for 7 days reduced mean gingival and plaque scores compared with use of a sugar-free gum. Total differences in these scores were significant between groups (P < 0.05), suggesting that acacia gum primarily inhibits the early deposition of plaque.Gazi 1991, Lindquist 2011 In a small (N = 11) clinical study, gum acacia increased oral pH after a rinse with simulated gastric acid, protecting against enamel erosion.Gazi 1991, Lindquist 2011

Renal effects

Animal data

A series of reports were published on the use of gum acacia in rats with induced renal failure. Effects included antihypertensive reactions, reduced anemia and proteinuria, and improved oxidative stress.Ali 2011, Ali 2014, Ali 2013, Ali 2014 Enhanced creatinine clearance was demonstrated in healthy mice given gum acacia 10% in drinking water.Nasir 2013 An antioxidant effect may contribute toward observed efficacy.Gado 2013

Clinical data

Increased excretion of nitrogen and urea was observed in patients with chronic renal failure who were given gum acacia.Khan 2009

Dosing

Clinical trials are generally lacking. One trial used gum arabic (as A. senegal) 30 g daily for 6 weeks as a dietary supplement to reduce weight.Babiker 2012

Pregnancy / Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Allergic reactions have been reported.Khan 2009 Adverse effects reported in clinical trials include unfavorable sensation in the mouth, early morning nausea, mild diarrhea, and bloating.Babiker 2012, Pouteau 2010 IV administration has been reported to cause renal and liver damage.Morton 1977

Toxicology

Acacia is essentially nontoxic when ingested, and is considered GRAS.Khan 2009, Acacia 2014

References

Abd El-Mawla AM, Osman HE. Effects of gum acacia aqueous extract on the histology of the intestine and enzymes of both the intestine and the pancreas of albino rats treated with meloxicam. Pharmacognosy Res. 2011;3(2):114-121.21772755
Acacia (gum arabic). Food for Human Consumption. Fed Regist. 2014;21(3):2014. 21CFR184.1330.
Acacia senegal (L) Willd. USDA, NRCS. 2015. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, March 2015). National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Accessed March 6, 2015.
Ali BH, Al-Husseni I, Beegam S, et al. Effect of gum arabic on oxidative stress and inflammation in adenine-induced chronic renal failure in rats. PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e55242.23383316
Ali BH, Al Za'abi M, Ramkumar A, Yasin J, Nemmar A. Anemia in adenine-induced chronic renal failure and the influence of treatment with gum acacia thereon. Physiol Res. 2014;63(3):351-358.24564605
Ali BH, Inuwa I, Al Za'abi M, et al. Renal and myocardial histopathology and morphometry in rats with adenine-induced chronic renal failure: Influence of gum acacia. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2014;34(3):818-828.25171124
Ali BH, Ziada A, Al Husseni I, Beegam S, Al-Ruqaishi B, Nemmar A. Effect of acacia gum on blood pressure in rats with adenine-induced chronic renal failure. Phytomedicine. 2011;18(13):1176-1180.21741228
Anderson DM, Millar JR, Weiping W. Gum arabic (Acacia senegal): Unambiguous identification by 13C-NMR spectroscopy as an adjunct to the revised JECFA specification, and the application of 13C-NMR spectra for regulatory/legislative purposes. Food Addit Contam. 1991;8(4):405-421.1806390
Anderson DM, Morrison NA. Identification of Albizia gum exudates which are not permitted food additives. Food Addit Contam. 1990;7(2):175-180.2354736
Babiker R, Merghani TH, Elmusharaf K, Badi RM, Lang F, Saeed AM. 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. Nutr J. 2012;11:111.23241359
Ballal A, Bobbala D, Qadri SM, et al. Anti-malarial effect of gum arabic. Malar J. 2011;10:139.21599958
Beyer M, Reichert J, Heurich E, Jandt KD, Sigusch BW. Pectin, alginate and gum arabic polymers reduce citric acid erosion effects on human enamel. Dent Mater. 2010;26(9):831-839.20569976
Bhatnagar M, Parwani L, Sharma V, Ganguli J, Bhatnagar A. Hemostatic, antibacterial biopolymers from Acacia arabica (Lam.) willd. and Moringa oleifera (Lam.) as potential wound dressing materials. Indian J Exp Biol. 2013;51(10):804-810.24266104
Bliss DZ, Savik K, Jung HJ, Whitebird R, Lowry A. Symptoms associated with dietary fiber supplementation over time in individuals with fecal incontinence. Nurs Res. 2011;60(3 suppl):S58-S67.21543963
Bliss DZ, Weimer PJ, Jung HJ, Savik K. In vitro degradation and fermentation of three dietary fiber sources by human colonic bacteria. J Agric Food Chem. 2013;61(19):4614-4621.23556460
Bliss DZ, Savik K, Jung HJ, Whitebird R, Lowry A, Sheng X. Dietary fiber supplementation for fecal incontinence: A randomized clinical trial. Res Nurs Health. 2014;37(5):367-378.25155992
Calame W, Thomassen F, Hull S, Viebke C, Siemensma AD. Evaluation of satiety enhancement, including compensation, by blends of gum arabic. A methodological approach. Appetite. 2011;57(2):358-364.21683750
Clark DT, Gazi MI, Cox SW, Eley BM, Tinsley GF. The effects of Acacia arabica gum on the in vitro growth and protease activities of periodontopathic bacteria. J Clin Periodontol. 1993;20(4):238-243.8473532
Duke J, Bogenschutz-Godwin M, duCellier J, Duke P. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 2nd ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2002.
Evans WC. Trease And Evans' Pharmacognosy. 13th ed. London, England: Bailliere Tindall; 1989.
Fang Y, Al-Assaf S, Phillips GO, Nishinari K, Williams PA. Interaction of gum arabic with fatty acid studied using electron paramagnetic resonance. Biomacromolecules. 2010;11(5):1398-1405.20373756
Gado AM, Aldahmash BA. Antioxidant effect of arabic gum against mercuric chloride-induced nephrotoxicity. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2013;7:1245-1252.24174869
Gazi MI. The finding of antiplaque features in Acacia arabica type of chewing gum. J Clin Periodontol. 1991;18(1):75-77.2045522
Haskell WL, spiller GA, Jensen CD, Ellis BK, Gates JE. Role of water-soluble dietary fiber in the management of elevated plasma cholesterol in healthy subjects. Am J Cardiol. 1992;69(5):433-439.1310566
Hu JL, Nie SP, Li N, et al. Effect of gum arabic on glucose levels and microbial short-chain fatty acid production in white rice porridge model and mixed grain porridge model. J Agric Food Chem. 2014;62(27):6408-6416.24941348
Jensen CD, Spiller GA, Gates JE, Miller AF, Whittam JH. The effect of acacia gum and a water-soluble dietary fiber mixture on blood lipids in humans. J Am Coll Nutr. 1993;12(2):147-154.8385164
Khan IA, Abourashed E. Leung's Encyclopedia of Common Natural Ingredients Used in Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. 3rd ed. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley; 2009.
Kurup TR, Wan LS, Chan LW. Interaction of preservatives with macromolecules: Part I—Natural hydrocolloids. Pharm Acta Helv. 1992;67(11):301-307.1470635
Lindquist B, Lingstrom P, Fandriks L, Birkhed D. Influence of five neutralizing products on intra-oral pH after rinsing with simulated gastric acid. Eur J Oral Sci. 2011;119(4):301-304.21726291
Magic and Medicine of Plants. Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest Association Inc; 1986.
Morton JF. Major Medicinal Plants. Springfield, Il: C.C. Thomas Publisher; 1977.
Nasir O. Renal and extrarenal effects of gum arabic (Acacia senegal) — what can be learned from animal experiments? Kidney Blood Press Res. 2013;37(4-5):269-279.24022265
Pouteau E, Ferchaud-Roucher V, Zair Y, et al. Acetogenic fibers reduce fasting glucose turnover but not peripheral insulin resistance in metabolic syndrome patients. Clin Nutr. 2010;29(6):801-807.20584565
Slavin J. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients. 2013;5(4):1417-1435.23609775

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This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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