We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Xanthan Gum?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
All The Science is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At All The Science, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide that's commonly used as a food additive. The name is derived from the strain of bacteria used during the fermentation process that is used to make it, Xanthomonas campestris. This is the same bacteria responsible for causing black rot to form on broccoli, cauliflower and other leafy vegetables. The bacteria form a slimy substance which acts as a natural stabilizer or thickener. It was developed when the United States Department of Agriculture ran a number of experiments involving bacteria and various sugars to develop a new thickening agent similar to corn starch or guar gum.

Xanthan gum is considered a polysaccharide in scientific circles, because it is a long chain of three different forms of sugar. What's important to know is that all three of these natural sugars are present in corn sugar, a derivative of the more familiar corn syrup. The Xanthomonas campestris bacteria eat a supply of this corn sugar under controlled conditions, and the digestion process converts the individual sugars into a single substance with properties similar to cornstarch. This substance is used in dairy products and salad dressings as a thickening agent and stabilizer; it prevents ice crystals from forming in ice creams, and also provides a "fat feel" in low or no-fat dairy products.

Another use for the substance is the stabilization and binding of cosmetic products. One advantage of xanthan gum is that a little goes an incredibly long way; cosmetic manufacturers only have to add a very small amount of xanthan gum to their cream-based products in order to keep the individual ingredients from separating. Despite the use of bacteria during processing, the substance itself is not generally harmful to human skin or digestive systems, though some individuals may find they are allergic to it.

Xanthan gum is often used whenever a gel-like quality is sought. It is used as a substitute for wheat gluten in gluten-free breads, pastas and other flour-based food products. Those who suffer from gluten allergies should look for xanthan gum as an ingredient on the label.

One lesser-known use of xanthan gum is in the oil industry. As a thickener, it can be added to drilling fluid or drilling mud to improve its function. Drilling fluid serves several purposes, including cooling the drill bit, providing hydrostatic pressure, and helping to lift solids out of the borehole and keeping those solids in suspension when drilling stops.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick , Writer
As a frequent contributor to All The Science, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

Discussion Comments

By Lingling — On Jan 20, 2015

I just started a new diet which calls for me to eat only gluten free foods since I have an allergy to wheat products, but a lot of the recipes call for xanthan gum, guar gum, pectin as well as potato starch which has regular flour in it. Can I omit these items, especially when trying to make egg roll wrappers?

By anon332035 — On Apr 26, 2013

While people should be eating more naturally, when you have a food allergy and you want to make something from scratch (because it is your only choice when you are allergic to corn), knowing if something is derived from corn is important. This is true not just in food products. This extends to household products and personal hygiene products. Corn is the most widely used commercial product in our country, yet the most considerately labeled because of the millions of variations on the way it is use or synthesized.

When life choices are taken away from you, it is not the same as you choosing to live a purist life style. I am amazed at how quickly some people turn to anger. Vegans, did you know that when you are not getting enough protein in your diet your emotions fluctuate more easily? You might want to put some more wheat germ in your -- well, anything. Attacking someone who has had a choice taken away from them makes you look like, well I don't have to say it, the others know.

I have no food allergies, but have several family members who have severe ones. I have seen my cousin end up in the hospital because of his allergy -- that's how we found out about the allergy. I fail to see how the risk of someone dying is whining. You should step off that high horse that you are on.

By anon307722 — On Dec 06, 2012

Xanthan gum is a surprising thing. I personally didn't know about it until I noticed it in the ingredients of my chilli sauce! I decided to find out more about it and I did!

By jeffd — On Oct 31, 2012

Many on here seem to support GMO labeling. California has question 37 on the ballot this November 2012. If they get the label, we all will probably get better labeled food.

Consider putting your money where your mouth is. The big companies that hide GMOs in your food sure are.

By anon251527 — On Mar 01, 2012

Funny to hear some of these folks who don't have any food problems call those of us who do whiners.

Well, if you don't have the problem, then lucky you, but don't tell us that do we are whiners.

It is not whining to ask a food manufacturer to be honest about what is in their food. If it's GMO, MSG in any percentage and name, etc. If they have nothing to hide, and there should not be a problem for the average person, then put it out there so those of us who do have the problems can easily know what we can't eat and get on with enjoying food instead of this hit and miss stuff we have. "Oh, guess I can't eat that now that I have and I'm sick."

To those of you who don't have the problem, I hope you don't get it. I was fine until a few years ago when gluten became a problem for me. MSG has always been a problem, but in the last few years it has increased so much in our food with hidden names that it is harder and harder to eat somewhere without getting sick from it.

I am also extremely sensitive to mold and now I see why xanthan gum bothers me. Why would we want to put something in our food that is the bacteria that makes mold on our vegetables? It's nice to have a place to just tell your story and for those that don't have a story, then you just don't get it, but don't rant at us for needing this spot to share our daily frustrations.

By anon238268 — On Jan 02, 2012

I'm not allergic to xanthan gum, but am researching gums because our cat has started reacting to her cat food which has carrageenan and guar gum in it. The cat sneezed twice when my wife put her food in front of her earlier tonight! I'm pretty sure I am allergic to carob beans and to locust bean gum.

However, I am allergic to a truckload of things.

I don't think these people are whiners. When you are allergic to enough things, or even a few common things that cause a severe enough reaction, it takes an emotional toll. For instance, potlucks and parties and sometimes shopping are depressing for me. There's so much I can't have, and so little I can.

I sympathize with people who view their allergens as poisons. I really don't do well with cinnamon, mustard or walnuts. I can be sick for three days! Part of me wishes they could be outlawed, but another part thinks that's silly, because if everything I reacted to were outlawed, there wouldn't be enough food, and a lot of farmers would be out of business! I have to recognize that because of my allergies, I'm *not* objective about this kind of thing.

Some observations:

Part of the problem with xanthan gum is that if it's fermented, then people with allergies to mold could be allergic to it. Also, the unpredictability of the base is a problem. In the comments, corn and cabbage have been mentioned as a base, and I think something else. So part of the problem with xanthan gum is that it's a wild card -- you really don't know what's in it. And that is a problem. There really should be some prescribed, regulated process if it's going to be used.

I'm allergic to most oils (except corn) so I have a similar problem with various kinds of chips. The bag will list "corn and or cottonseed" oil. Corn oil I can have. Cottonseed oil I didn't know about until I gambled one time and got a bag that evidently had cottonseed oil in it, and I got mildly sick from it.

Anyway, that's another example of a wild card thing that should be eliminated. Labels should give you a positive identification of the ingredients.

Not everything is even on the label, and it should be. Companies are afraid of other companies copying their formulas. Before I turned allergic to soy, I was drinking quite a bit of soy milk. I was having something I knew was an allergic reaction, and I could just barely taste something familiar on my tongue after drinking a certain brand of soy milk, and finally it occurred to me that it reminded me of ginger, which I am allergic to, although it was a very faint taste.

Well, I called their consumer help line, and they wouldn't tell me if that flavor had ginger in it, even though I said I had allergies to ginger! But the lady did let me know that all of their soy milks except two had ginger in them, even though it wasn't on the label, and the kind I was drinking wasn't one of those two!

Because of my allergies, I've been forced to eat very simple foods. I'm also allergic to most fruits (except apples), virtually all spices and nuts, and many vegetables. I love labels that say things like

"corn, water, salt", or "wheat, water, salt". Unfortunately they are rare. At least three times in the last five years, I've lost foods I relied on somewhat, because the manufacturer decided to change ingredients: two kinds of pita bread and one brand of canned chicken.

Rather than outlawing kinds of food, I think there needs to be some kind of "Simple foods movement" and foods with a really simple ingredients list should get some kind of seal of approval from a "Simple foods council" or something. I sometimes eat a food with an additive if there is only one, because then I know what caused the reaction. When there are two or more, it makes the process of finding out what is causing it much, much harder.

By anon237359 — On Dec 28, 2011

I started reading comments here, and realized once again how much ignorance there is on the internet and always will be. It is so easy and simple: buy only organic, local fruits and veggies, and eat only raw vegan, and forget about going to out to eat, unless it's a true raw vegan organic place.

Oh! And it gets better: don't use any shampoos or body washes. If you eat a truly healthy raw vegan diet, all you need is to take a warm/hot shower with clean water (don't use KDF filter to convert chlorine to zinc chloride though. It's even more harmful).

So just take a warm/hot shower every day or so, and use a natural shower sponge to just rub and energize your skin and it also clean your whole body and the mind. Same with hair. - don't use any products, just massage your hair very well in the shower, use a sponge on your hair if you'd like too, rinse very well, and then use a clean towel to dry yourself very well. That's all!

And no, don't use any products like any toothpaste, and even worse a mouth wash! You don't need that at all. All you need is to brush your teeth at least twice a day with a clean toothbrush after rinsing your mouth well with a strong solution of baking soda, because baking soda is the only good active ingredient in any toothpaste and is the only healthy/natural one also. Also it's one of the strongest astringent agents, and is only 2.5 on Moh's scale, unlike silica with is a 7. Teeth are made of apatite, with is 5 on Moh's scale. Now draw your own conclusions.

Most of these discussions are so silly. I, for example, never even buy anything that has an ingredient label on it, because all I ever buy is fruits and vegetables! It minimizes cooking time to almost zero and provides you with the highest nutrient profile and bio-availability of any foods that could be possibly consumed. It also leaves time to focus on so many more other wonderful things in life, other than food and which shampoo to use.

Also, don't use any deodorant, besides pure fresh lemon juice (after washing with natural/organic soap and drying). It's the best anti-odor solution there is. It smells like heaven, is completely natural, and it really works and better than almost 100 percent of deodorants out there. Most deodorants have aluminum compounds in them, and second, almost all of them contain fragrances, almost all fragrances are toxic and they accumulate in your brain and organs, besides effectively killing off your senses of smell, taste and feel.

The best food is organic brown rice, soaked for one or two days in water with a few freshly squeezed lemons, and filtered water from buckwheat flour and water solution (then rinse very well and store in your fridge submerged in water). For your health! Remember: truth is always simple.

By anon227096 — On Nov 03, 2011

I don't think it's necessary to get into a debate on who or who isn't a 'whiner'. The fact of the matter is quite simple: Our government should require the labeling of GMOs in our food. We are buying it and we have a right to know what we are eating. Even though I refuse to buy products with GMOs, if someone else wants to buy a product with a GMO in it, that is their own choice. We all deserve the chance to make our own choices. Isn't that what America is all about: freedom?

Instead of arguing on here, let's all go tell our elected officials that we demand for our food to be labeled with full disclosure!

By anon216617 — On Sep 22, 2011

My list continues to grow, I am allergic to any type gum, carrageenan, soy lecithin, canola oil, cottonseed oil and palm oil. Needless to say, I rarely find a place to eat out. I travel with my own crackers, dressings and cocktail sauce, all homemade.

By anon206498 — On Aug 16, 2011

I read a few of these. The truth is that most of our food in the US is genetically modified. Therefore, there are many people who are intolerant of the food and just simply don't know it.

Look around us. Everyone is sick and overweight. It's the food supply. It does take a huge amount of effort to eat properly these days, and I mean huge, but possible.

Mostly to eat right, you have to eat raw and organic food. It's just the times we are living in. Many don't understand, for instance and persons with Celiac disease. I didn't understand allergies until I was diagnosed with the disease (which wouldn't exist if the US hadn't genetically modified wheat to contain more gluten than it should).

Oh well. We all have to take care of ourselves and make necessary adjustments. Remember no one can understand one's personal struggles. I wish you all the best.

By anon186927 — On Jun 16, 2011

Xanthan gum is good stuff. Without it or another gum, homemade ice cream is practically a block of unscoopable ice.

I've no allergy to this or any other food ingredient I'm aware of, so it's all good. Sorry to those who do.

By anon181477 — On May 29, 2011

Xantham Gum gives me gas. It is very smelly and embarrassing.

By anon180954 — On May 27, 2011

It makes sense that the human organism rejects Xanthan gum because it is GMO. The only country that allows GMO in the world is the united states. When GMO food is fed to animals they refuse to eat it.

When force fed with GMO food the animals have scarring and lesions inside their stomachs. It makes total logical simple sense to avoid anything that is GMO. Thanks for sharing your experiences. And here is to Americans standing up for their rights and signing petitions to ban GMO dangerous foods.

By anon180238 — On May 26, 2011

This is the main ingredient in a product called Simply Thick. It has killed babies. Go to the FDA site for a press announcement.

By anon168655 — On Apr 18, 2011

To some of you on here that think it is so easy to avoid foods you are allergic to I say this: I just found out (after years of being sick with doctors who could do nothing for me but run tests and tell me it was nothing) that I have a gluten allergy. So I avoid gluten. Fine.

Do you understand what that entails, however? I can control what I buy and eat in my home to a point (but my food bill has tripled and shopping takes much longer because labels are vague and don't always come right out and say they have gluten products in them).

However, if my friends or spouse want to go out to eat, or my church has a dinner (and even the Communion at my church, for that matter), or I am traveling, at school, or have a business lunch, I risk getting very sick because most places don't understand my allergy to be able to help me, and they don't even know what's in the food they are serving.

Try walking in my shoes for a week, or even a day. t really is no picnic. All we want is understanding, not to be called whiners. We are not whining. We just want companies to be clear to what they are putting in foods, which is not much to ask.

By anon156341 — On Feb 26, 2011

Poster 90 made a suggestion that if you are allergic to Xanthan gum then avoid it.

I have a question for him: What products can he or anyone name of the top of their head that have Xanthan Gum?

You can read the long lists of ingredients in the supermarket, if you have the time, but what about at the restaurant?

By anon156244 — On Feb 26, 2011

I just got sick yesterday because I had a protein powder with xanthan gum (corn) and citric acid (derived from corn). Avoiding corn is practically impossible. It's in my toothpaste and mouthwash too. Not to mention a lot of lip balms, some soaps, shampoos. It's a pain in the you know what.

By anon152217 — On Feb 13, 2011

Most Xanthan Gum comes to the USA from China untested for melamines and heavy metals!

Someone needs to put their foot down and have the FDA test results of every batch of Xanthan Gum on the side of every consumer package. We have a right to know what heavy metals and if melamine are present!

By anon151622 — On Feb 10, 2011

For any of those who have been posting, calling people who are sharing their negative experience with this ingredient as "whiners". Aren't you also whining about the supposed whiners? Irony is something else, huh? I agree that one should take responsibility for their life. I also think that companies should stop being irresponsible and label if an ingredient is made from a common food allergy ingredient such as wheat, soy, or nuts. How is it complaining to ask a company to put something on a label that a person can find out anyway? Corn sugars are known to cause diabetes and obesity.

Whiners? I don't think so. People who care about what they are eating? I think so.

By anon150459 — On Feb 08, 2011

I have to agree with poster #90. What a bunch of whiners!

Pick any substance on earth, and you'll find someone who is allergic to it. There are some people allergic to latex. Latex is used for surgical gloves, condoms, and paint, among lots of other things. Should we ban it because a fractional percent of the population has allergies?

Xanthan Gum is used (frequently) by people who have gluten allergies and therefore must use alternative flours (other than wheat). The xanthan gum is used to replace some of the "elasticity" that gluten provides when using wheat flour to make baked goods. There is another product called Guar Gum that is also used for this purpose, and for those of you "naturalists" out there, guar gum comes from a plant, rather than being manufactured in a "lab".

Sheesh. I found out when I was kid that I was/am allergic to something in "Mr. Bubble" bubble bath. It makes me break out in hives. So, I don't use it. Simple as that. Maybe those of you with sensitivities should do some research and take some personal responsibility for what you put in, or use on, your bodies.

By dgraza1 — On Jan 18, 2011

I was just reading the posts on this page and find many people singling out ingredients and don't know what they are.

I work regularly with gums in formulating food. Gums have been around for many years. Arabic acacia was used back in ancient egypt as glue for paper because it was sticky. Carrageenan (irish moss) was used to thicken soup and stew in ireland hundreds of years ago. Most gums on the label are natural while some are modified.

Xanthan gum is a natural product from fermentation of corn or other plant matter. Similar to fermentation of beer, cheese, yogurt and other natural products, xanthan gum is typically sourced from GMO but can be GMO free corn if needed. Xanthan is not an insoluble fiber, but contains mostly soluble fiber.

The FDA now recommends a combination of soluble and insoluble fibers in the diet. The insoluble fibers are non-digestible and pass through the body. The soluble fibers are digested by bacteria in the large intestine. Soluble fiber intake has been proven to lower cholesterol and glucose attenuation. It also helps promote relaxation and gas due to the fermentation of the soluble fibers. This can be the reason some people are sensitive to xanthan or other gums is the soluble fiber content.

If you do not consume soluble fiber on a daily basis you can have sensitivity to these effects. The effects will diminish with daily use of soluble fibers. Other natural gums with soluble fibers include: guar seeds, Psyllium seed husk, pectin (fruit rind), acacia or arabic tree sap, konjac root), inulin root, locust bean gum (tree seed), carrageenan (seaweed), alginate (seaweed) and agar (seaweed). Modified gums include cellulose gum (or CMC – carboxymethyl modified cellulose) and Propylene Glycol Alginate (modified alginate).

By anon141873 — On Jan 11, 2011

Man, what a bunch of whiners.

If you're allergic to peanuts, don't eat peanuts.

If you're allergic to shellfish, don't eat shellfish.

If you're allergic to xanthan gum, stay away from xanthan gum. People asking to regulate it should also ask for the regulation of things like nuts, seafood, cats and dogs, since they can all cause serious allergic reactions and death.

Commenter 75 is pretty much the only intelligent person I saw in skimming these comments. I second and third everything that person said.

For example, comment 70, you say to eat natural, and then add "People are suffering from the foods they eat and government manufactured crap!". Yeah, well, take some responsibility for what you put into your body. Buy basic ingredients and cook your own meals if xanthan gum is that much of a problem for you. If you're broke, you shouldn't be eating "government manufactured crap" anyway. For the price of that $3 Whopper you could have 1.5 pounds of ground beef and make yourself 20 burgers and you know what's going into them.

Continuing with comment 70, you talk about eating naturally because so many foods are manufactured. Right, because peanuts and shellfish are totally manufactured and don't result in deaths every year. "Natural" vs "Not Natural" is not a valid argument. Besides, what's more "natural" than a fungus that attacks leafy greens?

In short, take personal responsibility, know what you like and what makes you sick, and stop whining about the government not telling you what to eat and what not to.

Beer gives me migraines because of the fermentation. Do you see me going on beer forums saying "Why can't the government ban this? It's going to kill me!" No, because not everything affects everyone the same, and (at least in the US) we live in a country where people can make their own decisions (my god, what a concept).

Avoid the things that cause you problems, and let other people do whatever they want. It's as simple as that.

By anon140981 — On Jan 09, 2011

Xanthan gum is made from corn. You can be sure that the corn is genetically modified and not organic. It is a genetically engineered product that the human body does not know how to process and should be removed from any product that comes in contact with any other living thing.

By anon136507 — On Dec 22, 2010

I'm amazed that people cite an industrial usage as reasoning for not using a substance in food.

Because something is industrial you've decided it's inherently harmful? That's more than ignorant, it's pure stupidity.

To those who aren't intolerant of it, xanthan gum is safe and useful.

By anon132032 — On Dec 05, 2010

Anyone else know that Xanthan Gum is pretty much made from rotting cabbages? Sure, "natural," but completely disgusting.

By anon121176 — On Oct 23, 2010

I have celiac disease and use xanthan gum in baking on a regular basis and have no problems. For an entire loaf of bread I use 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of it.

If you have a problem with xanthan gum then read labels and do research before you eat anything; it's what I do for every single thing I eat. Even with all the warnings for gluten I still do my research. It's an unfortunate part of having a food sensitivity.

By anon112529 — On Sep 20, 2010

By the way, xanthan gum can be made with corn or soy or wheat, not just corn. Also, it can be made/grown in any of those three. So if you have a corn or soy or wheat or gluten allergy, you may be allergic to the xanthan gum used in some foods and not in others.

By anon112526 — On Sep 20, 2010

All I want is truth in labeling. My daughter has a severe corn allergy, and we did not know that xanthan gum is made of corn. We had to find out when we suspected that her cough medicine was making her cough worse instead of better, and looked up each individual ingredient in it to see what they were in truth.

By anon110133 — On Sep 10, 2010

I found out I was allergic to xanthan gum when starbucks changed their frappuccino base. I've had a very messed up digestive system for quite some time, and have tried eliminating various foods and the results don't change. But the day I got the new mix from starbucks I was running for a bathroom within two minutes of my first drink, and the severe headache it caused was much like what I get from artificial sweeteners.

It was the only thing in my diet that had changed at the time so I started going through ingredients lists of the things I was currently eating and removed anything I could find with xanthan gum in it and my once frequent headaches are no more and my digestion is normal for the first time in years! That's what it was the whole time!

By anon110013 — On Sep 10, 2010

I am definitely allergic to XG. Shortly after consuming this rubbish (mostly without my knowing as a alternative way to thicken food or regulate viscosity in sauces) I go into anaphylactic shock. My chest closes like an asthma attack, my throat closes and finally I start to black out.

This stuff was originally used for hard rock bed drilling to lubricate the drill bits and regulate the viscosity of the crushed/molten rock so as to aid in easier drilling, and now the put it in food?

What will they feed us next? Signed: 'Concerned', Cape Town, South Africa

By anon107551 — On Aug 30, 2010

I just noticed xanthan gum can also be used as a laxative. I wonder if those have intestinal problems are also sensitive to other types of laxatives?

By anon107213 — On Aug 29, 2010

I'm allergic to a lack of oxygen, a lack of water, and xanthan gum. I can smell it. I can smell it up to 12 hours after consumption. Nasty.

By anon106970 — On Aug 28, 2010

Since most people commenting seem to be intolerant of this and other gums I wonder why the government doesn't put a warning on products that contain it? Maybe many more will discover that their health problems are related to the same.

By anon105939 — On Aug 23, 2010

To - anon70056. I have the very same problem as you describe. I just found out the Xanthan Gum has caused some very bad watery diarrhea and I cannot tolerate any sugar alcohols. This is very discouraging because I shop in health food stores and find that more and more products contain these ingredients.

By shannonpinky — On Aug 06, 2010

what is the ingredients and has it got meat in it? this is what i really need to know.

By anon101489 — On Aug 03, 2010

I'd hazard to say many posting on this page sought out this information because of their allergy/reaction and posted here, making it appear that there are more sufferers of this allergy than there actually are in the general population.

The truth is that in the general population xanthan allergies exist, but are rare compared to the numbers impacted by the top eight allergens, which account for 80 percent of the food allergies in the US.

And guess what? All of those allergens would be on michael pollick's safe list: nuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy, fish, shellfish, wheat, eggs. Does it mean they should be avoided by the general population, legislated against or banned? No.

It means people who suffer allergies should not consume them. Read labels and make your own decisions.

Allergies in general have exponentially increased over 50 years. Xanthan's role is as marginal as any other food product not included in that top eight list. Some people are allergic. Most are not. Le sigh.

By anon101305 — On Aug 02, 2010

This man or woman directly below my post (anon93118) sounds like an executive from the food industry.

There are so many holes in your post, it's almost scary. I usually sit back and just read the posts, but knowing that you're lying made me respond.

Please disregard anything this person wrote.

By anon93118 — On Jul 01, 2010

Gluten is natural. It's found in wheat and eggs and lots of other things that we grow. Bacteria is also natural. Bacteria that grows on corn, which is natural as well, creates xanthan gum.

But xanthan gum isn't natural? Um.

Also, allergies are one of the stupidest things our bodies do. So we introduce something perfectly harmless into our body at very, very tiny doses, causing our body to treat it like a foreign creature and destroy it. This in turn causes our immune system to categorize it as a disease forever, and so now you're screwed every time you come in contact with it. Thanks a lot body. Real helpful there, saving me from...peanuts. That's like bombing your own city to stop a petty thief.

By anon92034 — On Jun 25, 2010

I have the most appalling wind after consuming anything with XG in it, I hate it, I would sooner bloat from the gluten than fart 24 hours a day. It also causes me to have issues. No matter what biochemists say, it is a man made substance created in a laboratory and is not found naturally.

That is enough for me. Like Nutrasweet and all its cohorts, it should have restricted use.

By anon91042 — On Jun 19, 2010

Xanthan gum is derived from fermented gluten.

Also, we should all try our best to eat as naturally and organic as possible. If it's not totally natural, it will most likely and eventually cause allergic reactions -- period.

I've only found out recently that I have an intolerance to gluten. I've found some great recipes for breads and muffins using rice flour and other natural starches like potato and cornstarch.

If we stay all natural, we won't even have to ask these questions.

For comment no. 58: This is not a witch hunt. People are suffering from the foods they eat and government manufactured crap! Don't be telling people it's okay to eat chemically manufactured foods. It's socially irresponsible and insensitive. If you don't have the allergies, that's great! But a lot of people do, and a lot of people who are of different socio-economic backgrounds, don't have access to tests and doctor visits to know if they have allergies to foods-they find out later after damage is done. Also, with Celiac disease, the independent tests are $400.00

Listen to your body! It knows best and will tell you when it's unhappy with what you put in it. Aches and pains and diarrhea are not normal. If they dissipate after you cut gluten and chemicals out of your diet, that should seriously tell you something, even if you've never been tested by doctors. Your body knows best!

By anon85757 — On May 21, 2010

Wow! I think everyone should read Michael Pollan's "The Omnivore's Dilemma" as well as "In Defense of Food." A must!

By anon84491 — On May 16, 2010

I discovered that I have an intolerance to xantham, guar gum, etc. only by a long and painful process of elimination. Once I had identified the problem I thought it was a very odd intolerance to have but, having read this website, I realize I'm not on my own. That's a relief in itself!

By anon80751 — On Apr 28, 2010

anyone know what shops sell it as i am a coeliac and i need to get some for my recipes?

By anon78602 — On Apr 19, 2010

This thread has changed my life! I've had terrible, miserable, disabling intestinal problems for 6-plus years that nothing has helped. Since reading this last week, I've sorted through all my supplements and cosmetics and no longer use anything that has the word "gum" or "cellulose" in the ingredients. Ah. So very much better!

By anon77381 — On Apr 14, 2010

Strawberries (and peanuts and bee venom and poison ivy, etc.) are "part of life." Xanthan gum is not. It is manufactured.

My board-certified allergist agrees that my anaphylactic reactions have been caused by it. Food products 50 years ago didn't contain it, and - other than for those with celiac disease who have no other options - there is no imperative for it (other than using up a lot of corn).

We would all do much better to stay away from as many additives as possible.

By anon76986 — On Apr 12, 2010

will the xanthan gum take all over the universe with it's alien-like bacteria molds and kill us all with the extremity of the amount that should not be used?

By anon76149 — On Apr 09, 2010

what is acetylated tartaric esters of mono glyceride?

By anon70056 — On Mar 11, 2010

Within an hour after eating anything with even the tiniest trace of Xanthan Gum, I am sitting on the toilet with liquid diarrhea!! (I also can't have sorbitol, etc.)

It's hard to buy food because they are putting more and more Xanthan Gum into things like cottage cheese, cream cheese, etc. I don't know the scientific reasons for anything; am just stating what happens to me.

By anon69976 — On Mar 11, 2010

there will always be someone allergic to whatever is sold to eat. my wife cannot eat strawberries regardless of how they're grown, organic or not. it is just part of life.

By anon69434 — On Mar 08, 2010

do not listen to the chemical scientists! Our food is adulterated with toxins and other gunk our bodies do not recognize!

the rule of thumb, if it is plant, eat it. If your food was made in a plant do not eat it. 95 percent of our health problems come from our diet! Eat more natural foods and free range foods. Stay away from the cured meats, salt and high fructose corn syrup. All that sugar is causing diabetes.

By anon59519 — On Jan 08, 2010

I have to eat gluten free due to celiacs. I kept having reactions to gluten free food and through a process of elimination I found that I'm allergic to Xanthan Gum. Unfortunate it's in many GF goods contain this product. Clearly it's not safe.

By anon51496 — On Nov 06, 2009

Guar, xanthan, cellulose and HFCS should all be avoided. I get hives when I eat them in large quantity and diarrhea in smaller quantities. During stressful times in my life, my reaction to these ingredients would be increased. It took a long time to come to these realizations and now I am happy to say, no more chronic diarrhea after 20 years. It is a lot of work to remove these ingredients from your diet, since they are in most prepared foods.

By anon50756 — On Oct 31, 2009

OK people enough with this witch hunt! XG is not dangerous and is only classified as a mild irritant. when looking at its MSDS (material safety data sheet) it poses little risk unless you are allergic as mentioned above.

And to echurchwell for comment 19, obviously when working with dusts, it will be hazardous to your health and will have long term effects on your health if you are exposed to these conditions regularly. Your company should provide you with relevant respiratory equipment. if not, purchase one yourself with a filter for PM10 meaning it will filter out particles 10 microns greater. This should provide sufficient protection for you.

NB: normal dust masks won't suffice -- they just remove larger particles. You need a mask with filter attachments.

and as to the flu like symptoms, you will get this when working with any type of small particulate i.e. when cleaning out a silo, cement factory, dusty old house etc., so don't stress too much XG isn't that dangerous. vitamin C is definitely more lethal. Your biggest problem is the powder not what it's made from.

Now for comment 7 Kirrin you were correct in saying what the some of the other people have written thing withs no proof and that it is complete hearsay, but you must be careful when using wikipedia because the author of the article may have put the correct information in the article but could have put it completely out of context. "ike you said, "Some people are allergic to xanthan gum, with symptoms of intestinal gripes and diarrhea. Workers exposed to xanthan gum dust exhibit nose and throat irritation as well as work-related illness, with symptoms becoming more prevalent with increasing exposure." but in actual fact all dusts exhibit symptoms proposed above with whatever other hazardous chemical effects they are attributed to.

Chemical and safety engineer

By anon43522 — On Aug 29, 2009

Post #53 - Bacterial cultures don't sound very natural but have long been used in many traditional foods. Cheese and beer are obvious such examples. If the the xanthan gum is produced using genetically unmodified bacterial stock fed naturally occurring sugars, I can't think of a reason xanthan gum would be less deserving of the organic title than a cheese made using unmodified bacterial cultures and organic milk.

By anon43004 — On Aug 25, 2009

what is concentration range of xanthan gum for in situ gelling property? -AMIT PATEL(sana)

By anon41322 — On Aug 14, 2009

In post #13, Priscilla suggested the economical and political factors that determined xanthan gum being a natural product. The reason I looked it up is because it is listed as an ingredient on my organic frozen yogurt. How ever is that possible? I'd love an explanation if anyone is able to provide one.

By anon40152 — On Aug 06, 2009

I have found that when a recipe calls for xanthan gum (since I don't have any on hand) I use some applesauce instead and all my scones come out great. I'm not saying this is something to use always but it has worked so far for me. Betty

By elskbrev — On Jul 15, 2009

p.s. I do have a food intolerance to Xanthan Gum. I discovered it when I experimented with a low or no gluten diet and tried gluten free bakery products.

It is also obvious when I can eat XG free cottage cheese every day, but one serving of cottage cheese containing it leaves me clutching my stomach.

I cannot even buy a conventional boxed cake mix because all of them contain XG.

Any small amount will give me a feeling like knives in my gut and stomach with bloat and gas.

If I go to a restaurant, and I have dressing with my salad, the entire night is ruined within two hours.

I am otherwise healthy, slim and very fit. I make 99% of my foods at home from scratch. I do not have any other food intolerances or allergies. I pretty much eat the same things as everyone else, except I have to examine labels for "toxic" ingredients.

When will the food industry quit putting these poisons in our food.

By elskbrev — On Jul 15, 2009

After reading posts here that comment on how XG is an indigestible (a.k.a. insoluble) fiber and speculations about what might happen if you breathed in the powder and it gelled up on your nostrils or bronchial passages, I recalled something that happened to me regarding another insoluble fiber--cellulose gum.

About twenty years ago, in my late twenties, I decided to lose five pounds fast using Slimfast powder shakes. Within two weeks, I was not only dehydrated, I had also begun to go about smelling a bit like urine. Bladder control was not the problem, but I was leaking slightly. I investigated the ingredients of Slimfast and blamed it on the cellulose gum, an insoluble fiber also found in Cheerios oat cereal and ice cream. When I eliminated those foods containing cellulose gum from my diet, I was soon back to normal. Years later, when an office mate wanted to lose weight for her wedding, she went on the Slimfast shakes plan and soon went about smelling just as I had--a bit like urine. She was only age 30. So, it wasn't just me.

Apparently, the insoluble, indigestible fiber--cellulose gum--did manage to pass through my digestive system to finally stick to my urinary tract? Speculative, I know. All I know is that this wasn't normal for me, and eliminating cellulose gum fixed the problem.

Today, Slimfast contains no less than five insoluble indigestible fibers--Gum arabic, cellulose gel, Xanthan Gum, carrageenan and guar gum.

Do you suppose XG leads to similar symptoms?

I'm not about to try Slimfast again to find out.

By anon36315 — On Jul 11, 2009

Dear anon23453, (Re: post #45)

Can you share that recipe of raw blueberry pie made with fine ground psyllium husk? I would be so interested to know! Thanks!

By svanwing — On May 10, 2009


I have the *exact* same problem - although I was diagnosed a little over 20 years ago. When I consume a gum, I break out in hives that last for 6 months.

By anon30729 — On Apr 23, 2009

Xantham gum is typically derived from corn, so it is possible to be allergic to it. But, since "gums" are all from different families, it's not likely that people are allergic to gum in general. Instead, if you have issues with xantham gum, you likely have a corn allergy or intolerance. Guar gum, acacia/arabic gum, locust bean gum, Tragancanth Gum and Talca Gum are all part of the same family as soy, so if you have an issue with soy, it is likely you will have a problem with these gums as well. Safe alternatives would be karaya gum, agar agar and carrageenan.

By anon28700 — On Mar 20, 2009

Not true..if it were "as natural", they'd not have had to have performed such brutal animal experimentation for toxicity in 1968.

Injection of XG into rabbit eyes, force fed into cats and dogs?? Anyone?

Not so natural!

By Lazzat — On Feb 24, 2009

I was told i have allergy to gum 5 years ago.

Then i had an ALCAT test for food intolerances and I found a mild intolerance to it too.

Last year I had a test for allergies. It was negative.

I think probiotic intake helped me bc i was taking Lacto and Bifido bacteries for 1 year due to disbyosis. It is bacteria that can cause reaction and especially hives as I had with candida infection.

Recently, i was told i have antigens to gluten and tried gluten free food with XG. I had skin rushes all the time. It seems my allergy is back. I have a hard time with a gluten free diet now bc I have a craving for food and sweets due to adrenal fatigue and low progesterone.

By anon23453 — On Dec 25, 2008

This thread is great- I've cut out gluten after simplifying my diet and have found chronic shoulder pain, neck pain, and migraines have virtually vanished, as well as the notorious brain fog (I say virtually because I am still back sliding, like the fudge of unknown ingredients I ate last night, this morning, a little foggy!). Celiac.com has great gluten free recipes, and many call for xanthan gum, but I just omit it. My baked foods are more dense, but I like it. As of this thread I'm going to try a little psyllium husk, fine ground. I used as a thickener for a raw blueberry pie and it gelled right up like jello or pudding (depending on how much you use), it was delicious. I don't know what it does with baking... I wondered about xanthan gum, and I'm sure it's OK for some, but I'm sticking to bacteria fermented foods that have benefits, like kombucha, real sour cream and cottage cheese, and yogurt, in small amounts. A number of bacteria produce byproducts toxic for many, mildly or severely, sounds like the xanthan gum bacteria used could fall in this category. A factoid I picked up in trying to heal my body was that without breastfeeding as an infant, or because of insufficient nutrients in breast milk, many never develop a healthy gut with essential friendly flora. I've felt for years I wasn't absorbing nutrients properly, and was never breastfed. When I consume foods daily that contain friendly flora, I digest better, no diarrhea, gas, etc. Just fyi, thanks for this site and all the comments! Remember: balance, breathe, listen to your own body.

By topsy — On Dec 15, 2008

Can I understand by the links on this article that xanthan & guar gum contain no SUCROSE or MALT, but made up of dextrose & glucose?

By helpme555 — On Nov 13, 2008

I have 2 kids that are on the autism spectrum so I've been trying to gather everything I need to start on the Gluten-Cassein Free diet to see if their "condition" is related to an allergy. Every recipe nearly calls for this stuff and now I'm freaked out to use it- just what I need in my life; more things to worry about. I would love an alternative that isn't going to coast me a fortune as everything else for this diet has. Please help!

By anon21227 — On Nov 12, 2008

what if i didn't use XG in a recipe i'm planning on making? what would happen. Is there a substitution for it? i want to make these scones, but i don't have XG and it only calls for 1 tsp.

By anon21201 — On Nov 11, 2008

Many of us with migraines, diarrhea, etc. have trouble with anything aged or fermented. Xanthan gum is produced through fermentation. It produces a slime similar to that found on old vegetables. Many of us cannot tolerate anything aged, moldy or fermented. No wonder we feel sick. Fermented products contain "amines" such as histamine. It took me more than 20 years of not feeling well to figure this all out. And yes, eating organic, unprocessed foods really made a huge difference in my life. Do research on causes of migraine headaches to find out more about this.

By Priscilla — On Aug 23, 2008

Just to be clear, I have no gastrointestinal symptoms from xanthan gum or any other vegetable gum. I go into analphylactic shock. It is the only substance that has that effect on me. Elminating it from my diet and from all personal care items (to reduce exposure on the advice of my allergist) is tedious and increasingly difficult (my favorite toothpaste just added it). However, eliminating it from my diet has kept me out of ambulances and emergency rooms so I'll continue to avoid it like the plague.

By anon17122 — On Aug 22, 2008

First, the number of people allergic to xanthan gum is quite miniscule. Just because a few people are allergic to something does not mean it is an evil, harmful substance. Would you advocate outlawing peanuts because so many people are allergic to them?

Second, xanthan gum is a polysaccharide, but its glucose is bonded with beta bonds, making it indigestible by humans. This is a roundabout way of me saying that it is *fiber*, the same as the ruffage in all the "organic" lettuce and celery you all seem to fawn over.

The reason xanthan gum causes problems for people is because it is fiber. Since fiber is indigestible it passes into the intestines, where hungry bacteria who *are* able to digest fiber go nuts on the stuff and cause bowel irritation, gas, the runny poops, and hundreds of other problems classified under the "fictitious" (according to the people who have been advocating we eat so much fiber all these years) Leaky Gut Syndrome.

Your problem is you have the wrong amount/ratio of bad, fiber munching bacteria in your guts from years of consuming too much fiber. It's not the Xanthan Gum! Xanthan Gum is the same stuff lettuce and celery is built out of, and your body treats it the same way!

Eat more meat and saturated fat. You are all killing yourselves based on 50-year-old, falsified research. Read something current.

And don't get me started on MSG.

By anon16465 — On Aug 06, 2008

Dear Priscilla, It is terrible that you have to suffer because of your allergy to Xanthan gum. I would like to suggest that you continue avoiding all processed food. Prepare your own food as much as

possible, use raw ingredients (meat, chicken, vegetables, fruits, rice, pasta). If you need to use processed food, try to avoid all what

indicates low fat, low calorie, frozen, because they have to use additives to make the product look good. Without these additives the products would not look or taste good. Therefore they would not be in the market. (It would be impossible to manufacture these products (good tasting and looking) without the additives). Standard natural cheese, ketchup, mayonnaise, margarine, butter, yogurt, cookies should be OK. I hope this is useful. Good luck

By anon16457 — On Aug 06, 2008

For those who want to cook gluten-free, I suggest trying ground chia seeds (has properties a bit like flax seeds, but better, in my opinion) or arrowroot powder. These will give consistence and btw chia is ultra-nutritious and isn't processed at all!

By anon16264 — On Aug 02, 2008

I'm intolerant to Gum, or possibly allergic. My GP doesn't really care about what is wrong with me so won't get me tested! If I eat something with Gum, worst case scenario is that I black out, otherwise I just feel very sick. If it is in toiletries/makeup (a lot of makeup doesn't list ingredients which doesn't help!) then my skin burns. It's even in toothpaste! I've only found 1 toothpaste which doesn't contain Gum. When I cut out Gum completely, I dropped 2 dress sizes within a month - bit odd!

However, I find that even chewing gum and bubble gum affects me. If I put it in my mouth, I feel ill, then if I chew it, I actually am sick! Even the smell of it from someone across the room makes me ill. Does anyone else find this??

By anon16194 — On Jul 31, 2008

I am so happy to discover this website and relieved to learn that I am not alone in my allergy to gums! XG and other gums (locust, guar) are intestinal irritants causing gas, abdominal cramping and diarrhea, in addition to the myriad of other symptoms listed here.

It doesn't matter if these additives are "natural" or not. They are added to an ever increasing number of foods, making it difficult to avoid getting sick on a daily basis.

How can we as consumers pressure the industry to listen to us and cease adulterating our food?!

By anon15981 — On Jul 26, 2008

the gum paste recipe calls for tylose or tragancanth..can I use Xanthan gum instead?

I'm confused...thanks

By lhorz23 — On Jul 20, 2008

Hello. Does somebody know what is the carbon content of Xanthan? Is there an exact molecular structure of this compound. If you have please send it...i badly need it now for my laboratory experiment. Thanks.

By anon15260 — On Jul 06, 2008

I am definitely allergic to xanthan gum...as well as other gums. I was diagnosed about 10 years ago after having enormous hives that could not be controlled. It is frustrating trying to shop for food, because it is natural. I'm not sure how, but I finally got to an allergist who diagnosed it very quickly. I usually wake in the night with the hives and have to be treated very aggressively short term and then continue treatment for 6 months.

By anon15241 — On Jul 05, 2008

Xanthan gum almost killed me---over a period of time, the random consumption of it in all kinds of foods, caused me to become completely intolerant of it, and I eventually went into anaphylactic shock.

No doctors were able to figure it out, so I began to do elimination tests until I was able to identify it. BE VERY CAREFUL!!!!!

By anon13215 — On May 21, 2008

I'm curious to know how far down on the list of ingredients makes it unhealthy. I have just started using a butter substitute and it is the 5th ingredient. I am hoping it is better than using margarine or butter as my cholesterol is high and I am trying to knock out the saturated fats.

By anon13035 — On May 18, 2008

What general products use the gum? Syrup or bread?

By anon12725 — On May 12, 2008

Is Xantham gum related to soy in any way? Or yeast? I have allergies to both.

By anon12275 — On May 03, 2008

hi echurchwell--Your work exposes you to XG powder/dust, right?--Well, I make milkshakes as part of my diet,--and they are more satisfying if thickened with XG. I noticed today, that if any of the airborne dust got on my hands or the counter, it instantly turned into a mucus-like sticky slime. Kind of gross, but I'm not easily deterred so I thought--if it does the job, who cares? THEN I thought,--what if I breathe this stuff??? Mental picture of bronchial tubes and lungs coated... So I went and got one of my disposable medical masks that I use for everything -ie. dusting, vacuuming sanding etc. etc.-- I feel safer and will probably continue to use XG.-with mask for the second or two it takes to dump a 1/4 teaspoon in the blender.

After that--I got curious as to what it really is, and went to this site. I think the slime would make an excellent petri dish in our airways and we should be ultra careful! Barring allergies, eating it is probably OK--and working as you and others do--you need protection. How about just putting one of those blue disposables in your back pocket and putting it on when the XG comes down the line?--If other workers think that is not macho, tell them "the doctor said so". Whatever. But just protect yourself! Good Luck. Shereal

By Marknelson — On Apr 26, 2008

Little off topic, but there is a fantasy book series called Xanth. And its worth looking into.

By anon10114 — On Mar 20, 2008

For me anything that is not natural is suspicious... My daughter had a really bad allergy reaction last week and one of the 2 items she showed that she's allergic to is Xantham Gum. I'm reading now about all these colors & additives and it's getting really scary!!!!

By anon9453 — On Mar 06, 2008

some one asked about Xanthan could substitute for alcohol use. I would say no, as alcohol is an antibacterial agent while Xanthan isn't

By anon9394 — On Mar 05, 2008

my grandson is allergic to eggs and my daughter has read somewhere that xanthan gum and guar gum have egg white in them is this true?and can you suggest an egg replacement that actually works? thanks irene

By elsi — On Jan 28, 2008

Can Guar Gum be used interchangeably with Xantham Gum? (ie: in baking recipe). elsi

By anon7335 — On Jan 24, 2008

I have recently been diagnosed with salicylate allergy - main ingredient in aspirin (had an anaphylactic reaction). Since then the dr. put me on a low salicylate diet of which corn and xantham gum are listed as high in salicylate. Many of the foods we eat and topical consumer products we use have salicylate in them. Those few that are that sensitive to salicylate it is amazing what one finds on the exclusion list to eat or use. Just food for thought for those of you allergic to xantham gum.

By anon6214 — On Dec 20, 2007

I'm sorry to hear of you getting the flu from this stuff. I would say that according to all of the above replies that if you keep continuing to package xanthum gum, you will get long term affects and that when your symptoms/diseases get worse they will take a lot longer to cure (if you stop packaging it in the future). It depends on how persistent and committed you are at the time of curing your maladies. As to the short term effect, if you stop now, then I don't know how much you breathed in and how much of it is in your cells, so I don't know if you'll get long term effects from it.

If I were you I would stop As Soon As You Can, so you don't keep getting the flu and wearing your immune system down more and more. In this day and age, we need our immune sys. to be stronger than ever! I would also do the lemon cleanse as soon as possible. Lemon juice with cayenne pepper (please only use a Very tiny amount) and maple syrup/molasses. Then you'll get the nutrients you need to build yourself up again! Maybe do a one day cleanse then 2 days or one day a week or whatever your body wants you to do and feel like doing at that particular time.

By echurchwell — On Dec 14, 2007

I work at a chemical company and we take Xanthum Gum in bulk form and re-pack it into smaller bags. The past 3 times we have done this over a 2 month period, I have gotten ill with flu like symptoms for about 24 hrs. After 24hrs I well again. Does anyone know if this can have a long term negative health affect? Also, will it cause any more short term issues, even if I stop doing that part of my job? Thanks.


By kirin — On Nov 17, 2007

Well, it's definitely a curious thing cause I don't have a problem with MSG or corn, although XG is a big no no in my current diet.

By anon5212 — On Nov 17, 2007

Well I think the real issue here may be the fact that XG comes from corn. I have an intolerence for corn and it is in everything. I have found that XG makes me itch after eating it.

By anon4279 — On Oct 10, 2007

MSG is in a ton of salad dressings and BBQ sauces. I am very allergic to MSG and it is in so many types of food, not just Chinese food. Chips, sauces, caviar, soups, seasoning mixes- TONS of things. If it makes you sick, you must be diligent about reading packages.


By Priscilla — On Sep 05, 2007

My goodness, Anonymous! (Is that your real name? :-) ) I'm CERTAINLY not advocating XG or any other additive. I simply stated that some people use it on purpose. I do not think it is good to consume, nor did I indicate that I did. I would eliminate it entirely, if I could, since I would love to partake in a pot-luck dinner without having to give everyone the 3rd degree about ingredients and have lunch in my company cafeteria without fearing a trip to the ER. Thanks for correcting my (admittedly layman's) science and adding quite a bit of excellent information to the discussion(although I'm not at all sure why you've taken such a hostile tone). Rock on!

By anon3481 — On Aug 31, 2007

Sorry Priscilla XG is a polysaccharide which is essentially a form of carbohydrate, e.g. essentially a chain of sugars bonded together. So yes, one is brushing their teeth with a carbo when it is in ones toothpaste.

People suffering with IBD (a wide spectrum class of medical disorders whose causes are not known or fully understood) type problems, can suffer from serious gastrointestial distress.

If they move to a gluten free diet that has XG in it, the XG can become a factor causing irritation or allergy. The unknowing person may continue on the modified diet without gluten or on specific carbohydrates (see SCD in book by Elaine Gottschall) which is nearly impossible for people functioning in society to strictly maintain. Reactions or irritation they may have from the XG element in the gluten-free "foods" they eat may be the cause of the distress they attribute to the lapses or to gluten. Indeed both (gluten and XG) may contribute to an ongoing problem.

Before one consumes XG one should know that the particular Proteobacteria species is a plant pathogen. Is this what you consider a good foodstuff to consume? Proteobacteria are a major group (Phylum) of bacteria. They include a wide variety of pathogens, such as Escherichia [E-coli], Salmonella, Vibrio, and Helicobacter. Is this what you want to be eating? [See the movie Soy-Lent Green, starring Charleton Heston which came out shortly after XG became widely used].

If so, good for you. But one should be aware of what makes up what one eats and be able to choose. For many it is not of consequence, for those with problems it is a major concern, especially when one winds up going from the proverbial frying pan into the fire.

By Priscilla — On Aug 20, 2007

No. Xanthan gum is a vegetable gum, manufactured from -- essentially -- a fermentation of corn. It is used as a stabilizer / thickener / emulsifier in a wide variety of commercial food products and personal care products. It keeps ingredients from separating, prevents ice crystals from forming in ice cream, and gives low-fat foods a better "mouth feel."

It is considered a "natural" product, even though it does not occur naturally (baking soda is also considered a natural product; it does not occur naturally either, but there are political and economic reasons that went into those decisions). Many people who suffer from gluten intolerance use xanthan gum as a thickener when they cook (it is sold in powder form in health food stores) since they can't tolerate thickeners made from wheat.

Many people believe that "true" allergies are caused only by foods that have a protein molecule (xanthan gum is technically a carbohydrate). My numerous trips to the ER with anaphylactic shock (prior to my isolating xanthan gum as the cause) contradicts that theory and my allergist agrees with me.

Hope that helps.

By anon3263 — On Aug 19, 2007

So xanthan gum is essentially sugar? If so, have I been brushing my teeth with sugar, since I know xanthan gum is one of the ingredients in my toothpaste?

By kirin — On Aug 16, 2007


Well, I think it would depend on your chemistry. Such as, some people are allergic to eating seafood, other's are not. Priscilla has an actually allergic reaction to Xanthan gum, where as I only have an intolerance to it. However, in reading what Priscilla says and what is stated in Wikipedia, it sounds like the chemical either builds up in some people's bodies, or it wears down some type of protective enzyme against it so that some people will become more susceptible to it's effects. In other words you might be fine now, but in a few years you might have problems (then again you may not have any problems ever). My guess would be that Xanthan gum was just what someone was hoping to create and it looked pretty good in it's initial trials; FDA looks at it and "approved for use in foods after extensive animal testing for toxicity in 1969". So, yipee it ain't going to kill you tomorrow, but who's to say that it won't have other adverse health effects later. My suggestion, is if you notice that you are having bowel problems (especially after a meal), watch what you are eating and talk to your doctor. Personally my doctor thinks it's MSG that is causing the problem, but I have the same problem with salad dressings, barbecue sauce, and ice cream (so, it ain't just the chinese food. lol). Also realize that it's a chemical used in practically everything from concrete, to cosmetics, to bread products, to sauces, and ice cream (which really irritates me cause I love ice cream. lol). I think the FDA needs to go back and do some more research into it. Nutrasweet and it's ilks could also be considered a "natural" product (why not, everything is natural cause everything is made of elements and all elements exist in nature), but then again, Nutrasweet was a failed experiment to create a new type of plastic.

By anon3200 — On Aug 16, 2007

so, I'm confused. is xanthan gum bad for _everyone_ or just for the people who are allergic to it?

By Priscilla — On Aug 16, 2007

To clarify...my reactions to xanthan gum are not intestinal, but ARE classic, anaphylactic symptoms.

By Priscilla — On Aug 16, 2007


My allergic reactions to xanthan gum started out about 10 years ago in a similar fashion -- not being evident until about 45 - 60 minutes after I ate something that contained it. And, my symptoms were fairly mild. As is common with allergies, I now have almost immediate reactions and they are severe (although not intestinal, classic anaphylactic symptoms. So, be very careful!

By kirin — On Aug 15, 2007

"xanthan gum itself is not harmful to human skin or digestive systems." I don't know what the hell they are talking about; I think Wikipedia has better information: "Some people are allergic to xanthan gum, with symptoms of intestinal gripes and diarrhea. Workers exposed to xanthan gum dust exhibit nose and throat irritation as well as work-related illness, with symptoms becoming more prevalent with increasing exposure." I recently figured out that I have a food intollerance to this "natural" food product and have these exact symptoms anywhere from 30 mins to an hour after eating somthing with this substance. Also consider the fact that this "wonder" product didn't start to be in use until 1969.

By Priscilla — On May 11, 2007

Sarah, I have been to the emergency room numerous times because of xanthan gum in food products. My allergist has instructed me to stay away from it in skin-care products to eliminate my exposure to it in any form, even though I've not had an allergic response to topical use. My allergic response is such that I've needed 4 epi-pen injections in the time between calling the ambulance and arriving at the ER. So, I'd say YES, it is possible that you are allergic. (Many people are allergic to natural items. Natural means nothing when it comes to allergies.)

By Sarah — On May 02, 2007

I've been having allergic reactions to some skin products and the only ingredient that they all have that is the same is xanthan gum. I know that the reason that companies use xanthan gum is so that the product doesn't irritate skin but is it possible that I am allergic?

By Red — On Apr 23, 2007

Will Xanthan replace alcohol as a preservative in herbal extracts?

Michael Pollick

Michael Pollick


As a frequent contributor to All The Science, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
Learn more
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.