The acacia, a little tree with bright yellow flowers and a top that looks like the wind overtook an umbrella, offers many health benefits. For hundreds of years, people have believed that it helps treat problems like colds, congestion, diarrhea, fever, gallbladder disease, hemorrhoids, smallpox and tuberculosis. Although some of these claims are a bit over-the-top, acacia extracts taken from leaves, branches, seeds, flowers and sap may help you thwart illness and keep your teeth and digestive system in tip-top shape.
Acacia Flour and Protein
Acacia flour is packed with protein and fiber, according to Nigerian researchers who published a study in "Nutrition and Health" in 2006. They studied the diets of 118 people in southern Niger and found that adding acacia seed flour to their regular diet significantly boosted their protein and fiber intake. The researchers concluded that some people benefit from adding acacia to their diets because it makes all their meals more nutritious.
Boosts Immune System
The most common cancer treatments can damage the immune system, according to authors of an article published in "Journal of Experimental Therapeutics and Oncology" in 2012, but acacia may help fix that. The researchers reported that acacia extract increased the white blood cell count in mice, making their immune systems stronger. Because acacia extract decreases the side effects of chemotherapy, it may help cancer patients stay healthier and stronger throughout their treatment. Acacia also may reduce the effects of toxic ingredients in some synthetic drugs.
Acacia may help keep your smile bright and pretty. In a study published in the "Chinese Journal of Dental Research" in 2012, researchers added an extract of Acacia arabica, a tree variety common in India, to toothpaste. After observing 60 adults who used either the Acacia-containing toothpaste or regular toothpaste for eight weeks, researchers found that those who used toothpaste with Acacia arabica had a lower risk of gingivitis and concluded that it may be a wise addition to daily oral hygiene.
Taking acacia with yogurt may benefit your digestive system. The fiber in acacia gum has carbohydrates with prebiotic effects, according to authors of a paper published in the journal "Nutrients" in 2012. Prebiotic carbohydrates work with probiotics, the "good" bacteria in yogurt and kefir, to fight the "bad" bacteria that can make you sick. According to the Mayo Clinic, prebiotic and probiotic agents may help you ward off diarrhea, yeast infections, irritable bowel syndrome and eczema.
- Journal of Experimental Therapeutics and Oncology: Chemoprotective and Immunomodulatory Effect of Acacia Nilotica During Cyclophosphamide Induced Toxicity
- Purdue University: Acacia Nilotica
- Nutrients: Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits
- Mayo Clinic: Is it Important to Include Probiotics and Prebiotics in a Healthy Diet?
Maia Appleby is a NASM-certified personal trainer with more than 15 years of experience in the fitness industry. Her articles have been published in a wide variety of print magazines and online publications, including the Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, New Moon Network and Bodybuilding.com.