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Gum Arabic: More Than A Traditional Remedy Mohanad A. Mahgoub and Sultan A. Almdallaleh


GA as a Prebiotic:


Other Effects of GA

It is claimed that GA acts as a prebiotic and increases proliferation of cecal epithelial cells enhancing cecal blood flow. Proposed mechanism:

GA is readily fermented by colonic bacteria to produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Effects of GA prebiotic activity and production of SCFAs: 1.  Reduction of ammoniogenesis, which may help

the patients of hepatic and renal disorder 2.  Relieving of ketosis 3.  Reduction of ureogenesis and increased nitrogen

elimination in the faeces

Effects of GA on renal function:

It is claimed that GA helps in reduction of urea and creatinine plasma concentrations and reduces the need for dialysis from 3 to 2 times per week. Proposed mechanisms: 1.  Elevated concentrations of butyrate suppressed

both basal and stimulated TGFbeta1 synthesis. 2.  GA binds both water and Na+ which results in

reduction of intestinal fluid absorption and thus of urine volume (bowel as a ‘‘substitute kidney”).

3.  GA enhances the amount of energy available to the colonies of bacteria that ferment dietary fibers and absorb nitrogen as they grow.

4.  Consuming fermentable fibers can lead to enlargement of the cecum by increasing its wall thickness and blood flow.

5.  GA ameliorates the significant increase in the concentrations of indoxyl sulfate in plasma.

Background: Gum Arabic (GA) is a dried exudate obtained from the stems and branches of Acacia Senegal and consists, mainly, of high-molecular weight polysaccharides and their calcium, magnesium and potassium salts. It is used, in folk medicine, for the treatment of chronic renal failure and other renal and gastrointestinal diseases, although without strong scientific evidence. Objective: the aim of this paper is to review the literature associated with the GA biological effects Methodology: to search the literature using the Medline database. Additional relevant articles were identified from the bibliographies. Findings of the studies were critically reviewed. Results: GA has trophic effects on gut mucous membrane, prebiotic effect, as well as, hypocholesterolemic and hypoglycemic effects. Furthermore, there is an indication that GA has a potential effect on hepatic and renal diseases. However, therapeutic usefulness of GA in hepatic and renal failure has to await further verification in animal models and humans. No significant toxicities have been associated with the use of GA. Conclusion: the findings suggest promising potential of GA that requires further scientific verification. Therefore, further work on the effects of GA is highly suggested.

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Why is Our Literature Review Important?

This literature review could be used as guidelines for researchers who are interested in confirming the therapeutic uses of Gum Arabic. It is doing so by providing the biological effects of GA reported in the literature, along with, the proposed mechanisms by which GA yields its effects. Most importantly, it sheds light on studies with contradicted results discussing dosage and species differences, as well as, the different durations used in such experiments.

Conclusion: GA is a non-digestible food ingredient that has found many applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries. Its abundance in this region and its c la imed benef ic ia l effects on renal and gastrointestinal diseases, as well as, its general health promoting characteristics make it an interesting, yet very promising, field of research. Our paper provides summarized and nicely organized information about GA. By doing so, we began the first step in the way of proving GA as a therapeutic agent.

Effects of GA on intestinal absorption:

It is claimed that GA improves small intestinal absorption of water and electrolytes. Furthermore, GA has trophic effects on the gastric mucosa. Proposed mechanisms: 1.  Emulsifying properties of GA may result in greater

accessibility of electrolytes and associated water to the microvillous membrane.

2.  GA enhances absorption of the solutes transported by diffusion (via transcellular and/or transjunctional transport pathways) and does not act via sodium dependent mechanisms.

3.  GA modulates the levels of the free radical nitric oxide (NO) in the upper intestine.

• Reduction of blood glucose concentration • Increase of lipid metabolism • Enhancement of tooth mineralization

Figure 1: Gross morphology of the kidneys of a rat that has received adenine only (0.75%w/w in the feed), and two doses of Gum Arabic (6%w/w and 12%w/w in drinking water), compared with a control rat (Badreldin et al, 2010)

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