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Is Xanthan Gum Bad For You?



Short answer

As long as you are not allergic to the product (it is typically made from corn, wheat or soy) and you do not have existing digestive issues, xanthan gum is not bad for you.



Long answer

Xanthan gum is made by fermenting corn sugar using the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris, which is then dried and ground into flour. It can also be made with wheat and soy food sources. It’s used as a food additive as an emulsifier and thickener and also to prevent the separation of liquids.  It’s commonly found in salad dressings, pastry fillings, whipped creams, and gluten free foods to mimic the sticky quality of gluten.

When looking at the nutrition of xanthan gum it is mainly a carbohydrate, but also contains roughly 7 grams of fiber per tablespoon. The health caution for xanthan gum is predominantly if a person has severe allergies to corn, wheat or soy (depending on the type you purchase). These allergies, along with the fiber, can cause gas and bloating in some people. Alone, it can cause irritation to the respiratory tract and cause flu-like symptoms.

Those with existing digestive issues should avoid xanthan gum because of its possible laxative effect. For all others, 15 grams per day is referenced as a safe amount to consume without issue.

Aside from its use in foods, it is used to make medication to lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and can be used as a laxative. It is also used as a saliva substitute for dry mouth syndrome. It can further be found as a stabilizer in some cosmetics and toothpaste.

It should also be noted that a few health benefits that have been demonstrated recently. A 2009 study published in the International Immunopharmacology Journal shows xanthan gum to have cancer-fighting properties in melanoma cells in mice when administered by mouth. It is also used in some stroke victims to increase the viscosity of food and prevent aspiration. Lastly, xanthan gum can be added to fruit juices to minimize the blood sugar spikes from these sugary drinks.

Possible short-term side effects

  • allergic reaction
  • bloating
  • gas
  • laxative effects
  • flu-like symptoms
  • throat, nose, lung irritation

Commonly found in

  • salad dressing
  • whipped cream
  • gluten-free bread
  • pastry filling
  • cosmetics
  • powdered beverages
  • canned meat


  • good source of fiber
  • may have anti-cancer properties
  • minimizes blood sugar spikes
  • increases viscosity in foods

Suggest improvement or correction to this article
Written by Kristin Brown, DC, MS | 07-06-2016

Written by Kristin Brown, DC, MS
Suggest improvement or correction

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