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Nutr Clin Care. 2004 Apr-Jun;7(2):69-74.

The medicinal uses of poi.

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Department of Human Nutrition, Food & Animal Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1955 East West Road, Room 216, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.


Poi is a pasty starch made from the cooked, mashed corm of the taro plant (Colocasia esculenta L.). Originating in Asia, this root crop is now found primarily in tropical and subtropical regions and was a major dietary staple in the Pacific islands. We hypothesize that poi has potential use as a probiotic-defined by FAO/WHO as, "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the host." No scientific studies have explored the possibility of poi being used as a probiotic in medical nutrition therapy, however, an investigator determined that the predominant bacteria in poi are Lactococcus lactis (95%) and Lactobacilli (5%), both of which are lactic acid-producing bacteria. This investigator also reported that poi contains significantly more of these bacteria per gram than yogurt. To determine if poi is beneficial for certain health conditions, a literature search was conducted to find all available research studies in which poi was used as a complementary treatment. Documented evidence suggests that poi shows promise for use in infants with allergies or failure-to-thrive. However, to support previous findings, more research needs to be conducted with poi and its potential use as a probiotic.

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