The carob is a tree in the same plant family as beans and peas. Its pods have been used for food for as long as 5,000 years. Carob pods were thought to be the "locust beans" consumed by John the Baptist, hence the name St John’s Bread. The Greeks referred to them as the "Egyptian fig" as the tree was first raised in Egypt and Western Asia. It has since adapted to cultivation in the semitropical reaches of the United States, Australia, Latin America and the Mediterranean. The Egyptians used the carob seeds as an adhesive binding during the mummification process. Made popular as a substitute for chocolate, carob powder was once deemed essential to the opera, for saving the voices of performance-weary sopranos. The seeds were also used by the Greeks and Romans as a unit of weight measurement for gold. It has been hypothesized that this is where the term carat is derived from.|
According to Dr. James Duke, carob seed powder contains alanine, alpha-aminopimelic-acid, amino acids, arginine, ash, aspartic acid, benzoic acid, butyric acid, capronic acid, carubin, catechin tannin, cellulose, ceratoniase, ceratose, chiro-inositol, concanavalin-A, fat, formic acid, fructose, D-galactose, gallic acid, beta-D1,6-DI-O-galloylglucose, beta-D-glucogallin, glucose, glutamic acid, glycine, gum, hemicellulose, histidine, hydroxyproline, invert sugars, isobutyric acid, isoleucine, leucine, leucodelphinidin, lignin, lysine, D-mannose, methionine, mucilage, myoinositol, pectin, pentosane, phenylalanine, pinitol, primverose, proline, protein, saccarose, saponin, serine, starch, sucrose, sugars, tannin, threonine, tocopherol, tyrosine, valine, water, xylose. The pods are rich in antioxidant polyphenols (19.2%), like chocolate.
As a food, carob is most often used as a hypoallergenic substitute for chocolate. In herbal medicine, carob powder is most often used as a treatment for diarrhea. The fiber (locust bean gum) in carob helps reduce the volume of fluid lost and prevents dehydration, especially in children. Give to children mixed with applesauce or sweet potatoes and a glass of water. In traditional herbal medicine, carob powders are used to treat prostatitis and prostate infections. It is also applied topically to remove warts. Carob powder is useful as a diet food, and is used in a variety of weight loss formulations, energy bars, drinks, and tea formulations. It lowers the glycemic index of foods with which it is mixed. A slice of carob cake, for instance, releases sugars much more slowly into the bloodstream than a slice of chocolate cake.
In very rare instances, allergy is possible. Avoid over-consumption until you know you are not allergic.