Harmful or Harmless: Xanthan Gum | Chris Kresser
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Harmful or Harmless: Xanthan Gum

by Chris Kresser

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I hope everyone had a wonderful and delicious Thanksgiving! Today, I’m continuing my series on common food additives.

Last time, I discussed the health effects of carrageenan, a food additive that is commonly used as a stabilizer, thickener, or emulsifier. Another additive that shares many of these functions in commercial foods is xanthan gum, which is also popular in gluten-free baked goods for the elasticity it lends to dough.

Although it isn’t as heavily discussed in the blogosphere as the other additives I’ve covered thus far, many health-conscious people see it on ingredient lists and wonder what it is, and whether they should be eating it. In this article, I’ll do my best to answer those questions.

Should you avoid xanthan gum in gluten-free baked goods? Find out in this article.Tweet This

Xanthan gum is a largely indigestible polysaccharide that is produced by bacteria called Xanthomonas Camestris. (1) Manufacturers place the bacteria in a growth medium that contains sugars and other nutrients, and the resulting product of bacterial fermentation is purified, dried, powdered, and sold as xanthan gum. (Makes you wonder who first thought to put it in food, doesn’t it?)

Animal studies

Overall, the results from animal studies on xanthan gum aren’t very concerning. In one experiment, rats were fed xanthan gum for two years in concentrations of 0.25, 0.50 or 1.0 g/kg body weight per day. (2) The only notable difference between the xanthan gum groups and the control group was that rats fed xanthan gum experienced soft stools somewhat more frequently than the control rats, but even that barely reached statistical significance. There were no differences in growth rate, survival, blood markers, organ weights or tumor incidence.

Another experiment followed a similar design but used dogs instead of rats, and the results were the same: no changes other than occasional soft stools. (3) In a three-generation reproductive study, rats were fed either 0.25 or 0.50 g/kg per day, and there were no significant changes in the parents and offspring from the xanthan gum-receiving groups. (4)

Based on those initial studies, it was concluded that xanthan gum is a perfectly safe food additive. Since then, a few additional animal studies with different aims have been published.

One study, conducted to evaluate the effects of xanthan gum on digestion in rats, found that a diet containing 4% xanthan gum increased the amount of water in the intestines by 400%, and also increased the number of sugars remaining in the intestine. (5) Another study found that in rats fed 50 g/kg of xanthan gum (an incredibly high dose) for 4 weeks, the stool water content and short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) content increased significantly. (6)

This last study actually relates to the potential anti-tumor properties of xanthan gum, and researchers found that orally administered xanthan gum was able to slow tumor growth and prolong the survival of mice with melanoma. (7) The mechanism is unclear, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Human studies

Due to the lack of harmful effects observed in animal studies, there are few human studies on xanthan gum. The first study aimed to determine the safety of xanthan gum when consumed by humans in an everyday dietary setting, but at levels much higher than people would normally encounter in their diet. (8) For 23 days, 5 adult men with no GI issues consumed between 10.4g and 12.9g of xanthan gum daily (based on the subjects’ weight), which is 15 times the current Acceptable Daily Intake of 10mg/kg. Overall, they experienced a reduction in serum cholesterol, an increase in fecal bile acid, and an increase in stool output and water content.

Another study had volunteers consume 15g of xanthan gum per day for 10 days. (9) They found xanthan gum to be a “highly efficient laxative,” and subjects experienced greater stool output and gas. That’s not very surprising considering the high dose, but what I found particularly interesting about this study was their measurement of the ability of subjects’ fecal bacteria to metabolize xanthan gum.

The researchers found that before the trial period, bacteria from the stools of only 12 of the 18 subjects could break down the xanthan gum, while after the trial period, bacteria from 16 of the subjects could break it down. (10) Additionally, the stool samples containing bacteria that could break down the xanthan gum showed a much greater production of hydrogen gas and SCFA after the trial period as compared to baseline, indicating that the intestinal bacteria of the subjects quickly adapted to this new food source. Clearly, xanthan gum (like many indigestible carbohydrates) can have a profound impact on the gut microbiota in large doses.

Colitis in infants

The only concerning research I found on xanthan gum relates to the development of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in infants. Earlier this year, the New York Times published an article relating the tragic deaths of infants who had developed NEC after consuming a diet of formula or breast milk that had been thickened with a xanthan gum-based product called SimplyThick. This product was widely used in hospitals to thicken feed for infants with swallowing difficulties.

Two papers reviewed the cases of xanthan gum-associated NEC, and while there isn’t enough data to establish causation, the general consensus seems to be that the xanthan gum caused increased bacterial production of SCFA in the newborns’ intestines, and this contributed to the development of NEC. (11, 12) Although SCFA are vital to colon health, the immature digestive systems of newborns appear to be extremely sensitive to them. (13, 14) Since then, general practice guidelines suggest avoiding manufactured thickening products in babies under 12 months old, and rice cereal or baby oatmeal is used instead.

I wanted to address this because while it’s clearly important to avoid giving xanthan gum to infants (especially in large amounts), I’d like to emphasize that none of this changes the fact that xanthan gum appears to be relatively harmless in adult humans. None of the animal or human studies found damage to the intestinal mucosa following xanthan gum consumption, even in large doses, so this danger appears to be unique to newborns. For everyone else, SCFA aren’t something to be afraid of, and they are actually beneficial for the gut and for metabolic health, as I mention in previous articles here and here.

Wheat, corn, soy, and dairy allergies

I mentioned in the opening section that xanthan gum is produced by bacterial fermentation of a sugar-containing medium. Unfortunately, that ‘medium’ is often a potentially allergenic substance such as corn, soy, dairy, or wheat. Many xanthan gum manufacturers aren’t eager to share what their ‘medium’ is, but one common supplier, Bob’s Red Mill, discloses their production practices.

It looks like they originally used corn or soy as a medium, but they’ve since changed their medium to a glucose solution derived from wheat starch. However, they claim that the xanthan gum is still gluten-free, and it continues to be marketed as such.

It can be difficult to find production info online, but just be aware that if you have a severe allergy to corn, soy, wheat, or dairy, it would be prudent to either avoid xanthan gum entirely or check with the manufacturer to see how it’s produced.


Based on the available evidence, the worst xanthan gum seems to be capable of (in adults) is causing some digestive distress in those who are susceptible by increasing stool bulk, water content, and sugar content. But as I just mentioned, those with severe allergies should also be careful.

I recommend that people with digestive problems generally avoid xanthan gum, not because there’s evidence that it could damage your gut, but because its structural properties make it likely to produce unpleasant gut symptoms. Unlike carrageenan, there’s no evidence that xanthan gum can cause serious harm (even in human studies using doses much higher than people would normally encounter), so if you are able to tolerate it, I see no compelling reason to strictly avoid it. I wouldn’t recommend consuming large amounts every day, because xanthan gum appears to have a high propensity for altering the gut microbiome, and it’s unclear whether that alteration could be problematic in the long run. But the small amounts that you would normally encounter in the context of a real-food diet shouldn’t present a problem.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Have you ever experienced any unpleasant side effects from using xanthan gum? Have I allayed your fears about this additive? Let me know in the comments below.


Join the conversation

  1. Here’s something I read from Catcentric:

    Xanthan gum is a thickener and emulsifier used in many pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial applications, and processed human and pet foods. Although its use is approved by the FDA, Xanthan gum was identified in 2011 as the cause of a deadly form of colitis responsible for several infant illnesses and deaths. As reported by the New York Times, the President of the company that makes the product in question (SimplyThick) claimed, “There was no need to conduct studies (for use of the product in infant formula), as the use of thickeners overall was already well established. In addition, the safety of xanthan gum was already well established.” (1)

    That’s what they tell us about its use in cat foods too.

    Marketed as an “all natural” ingredient in gluten-free recipes (2) xanthan gum is actually “the first of a new generation of polysaccharides [fibers] produced by biotechnology. The polymer was discovered by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).” The laboratory-produced gum “appeared to have valuable properties that would allow it to compete with natural gums.” (3) The commercial production of Xanthan gum began in the U.S. in 1969. It is produced by the fermentation of glucose, sucrose, or lactose (derived from corn, soy, wheat or whey) with the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris. X. campestris is the same bacteria responsible for causing black rot to form on broccoli, cauliflower, and other leafy vegetable bles. The bacteria forms a slimy substance that acts as a stabilizer and thickener, an emulsifier, and a surface-active agent. (3) After a fermentation period of several days, it is heat treated to inactivate the organism: the gum is isolated from the bulk medium by precipitation with either isopropyl alcohol or ethanol (highly toxic carcinogens according to the American Cancer Society (5)). It is then dried, milled, sieved and packaged.

    In other words, xanthan gum is a laboratory creation. It is a product:

    – fermented on potential allergens
    – when fermented on corn or soy (as it often is), GMO concerns exist
    – cannot be manufactured without the use of toxic carcinogens

    Xanthan gum is a “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS) food additive in the US, Canada, Europe, and many other countries. Yet it is known to be potentially as irritating as gluten for some with Celiac disease, causing gas, bloat and diarrhea (4); and for causing flare-ups for those with Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis (inflammatory bowel disease). In fact, “the rapid increase in the incidence and prevalence of IBD in recent decades strongly suggests an environmental trigger for IBD, one of which may be dietary patterns. There are several pathways where diet may influence intestinal inflammation, such as direct dietary antigens, altering the gut microbiome, and affecting gastrointestinal permeability. (6) A review article, “Evidence-based dietary advice for patients with inflammatory bowel disease” indicates that emulsifiers in processed foods have been indicated in Crohn’s disease. (7)

    At this point, it almost doesn’t seem surprising that something went wrong with this food additive “generally recognized as safe” in the sensitive intestines of premature infants. However, with the rare but tragic loss of life, we are left wondering – what happened? According to the New York Times article, the FDA investigators reporting on the deaths theorized that the infants’ intestinal membranes could have been damaged by bacteria breaking down the xanthan gum into “too many toxic byproducts,” as the intestines of premature infants are “far more likely” to have bacterial overgrowth than adults.

    Whether or not xanthan gum is contributing to the development of IBD in cats, one thing is clear: with the established link between bacterial overgrowth and IBD (including Feline IBD (8)), cats with inflammatory bowel disease should not be eating xanthan gum.

    Frankly, with digestive issues ranking as one of the top two reasons for a vet visit seven out of the last nine years, according to VPI Insurance, it’s probably a good bet no cat should be eating this.

    I would avoid this ingredient. Article states it’s always made using toxic carcinogens. I don’t even chew gum anymore. Why risk making ourselves unnecessarily sick?

  2. Just made a cake using xanthan gum to make the 4 vegan eggs. My tummy didn’t like it. Is Guar Gum any better ?

    • For important health purposes, when making a cake, using eggs that come from chickens is better, and are also mandatory to include in the diet frequently.

  3. Xanthan gum makes me so sick. I can instantly tell when I have ingested it as I will spend the next 2 days in the fetal position. Worst stomach pain ever, bloating, bathroom trips, it is awful. I am extremely careful with reading all the labels of things now, and asking many questions when we go out to eat.

    • This isn’t particularly relevant because of the many non-harmful and also the many beneficial things that cause a human to experience discomfort. For example sugar which has no harmful effects by itself when not hugely massively consumed but which will definitely cause bad feeling when used a lot just once, and kombucha which may cause tiredness and other bad feeling yet is highly beneficial to your body. Your personal experiences are irrelevant to the safety of an item which has already been specifically stated to perhaps cause such symptoms, unless it is an actual medical problem and condition.

  4. After reading Steven Gundry’s book The Plant Paradox, I began eating the Siete brand of almond-tapioca flour tortillas, They contain xanthum gum. Within hours of eating the tortillas I got severe dazed flu-like symptoms. I have been gluten intolerant my whole life, always wheat and rye allergic as well, and wonder if perhaps the Siete almond tortillas’ xanthum gum is made from a wheat-based medium. I eliminated the tortillas for a few weeks and experienced the exact same symptoms when I reintroduced them. Flu-like symptoms and deep sweats like working through a fever, soreness in my abdomen. I am a health practitioner and have spent 32 years studying food as medicine and fuel and really appreciate Chris’ comments about this. Thank you, Chris.

  5. Hello,

    I am completing the 30 reset programme and I accidentally made soup with stock that contained carrageenan. This has caused me digestive problems etc. I also can not tolerate Xanthium gum, gluten, diary etc or any additives in food. I plan to continue to eat Paleo as I just feel better, not because it is a fad. Its not easy to change eating habits but after 30 years of digestive trouble its worth it to me.

  6. I cant eat it at all. It bloats me something fierce and within ten minutes I’ll be exhausted. The effects lasts for days depending on the amount consumed.
    I have IBS and I’m wheat/lactose intolerant with cow’s milk allergies.

  7. I was recently tested for food sensitivities (Meridian), and xanthan gum (126 on the reference range) should a moderate sensitivity. It seems to be in so many products. I have to be gluten free because of Hashimoto’s. Xanthan gum is in many gluten free foods. Should I avoid those products? I like Bob’s Mills gluten free cornbread, but it contains xanthan gum. Please advise! Thank you!!

    • It is really easy to make your own baking mix and it works well for many recipes( I have not found a good way to make raised bread for sandwiches) it works well for dessert breads, pie crust , cookies and so on. 1 c sweet rice flour, 1 c millet flour, 1/2 c tapioca flour and 1/2 c finely ground almond meal–sift together. YOu could mix up larger quantities and keep refrigerated or in freezer. You could sub cornmeal for the millet or use corn meal in addition to the flour mix. You can also sub part quinuoa or amaranth flour for a bit more protein content–though not as good in desserts. the only reason to use xanthum gum is it helps it to stick together –eggs will help it stick together in most recipes. Or if allergic to eggs for part of the liquid use dissolved flax seed.

    • Moderate sensitivity to xanthan gum may very well mean you should not eat it. Or it may not bother you that much. Everybody’s different. You may very well get a greater sensitivity over time when eating it. The only true way to really know how it affects you is to eat something with it and see what happens. That’s the real teller for me. Once I saw what it did every time I ate it, and when I unknowingly ate it, but found out after the fact, I KNEW I didn’t want any more. It hurts TOO BAD.

      • Hi, Amy,
        Thank you for your reply. I was eating corn bread from Bob’s Mills corn bread mix and didn’t notice any obvious problem from the xanthan gum in it. I have another corn bread mix so I think I’ll try it again after consulting my doctor and nutritionist. I will be seeing my nutritionist again because I need more ideas for breakfast items I can eat since I have so many food sensitivities right now, and I’m not a smoothies person. If I get a physical reaction, I guess I’ll know that the xanthan gum might be causing the problem. The ingredient is in other products as well- not just in food! I found it in my face moisturizer with sunscreen (Eucerin) and Colgate Enamel Health toothpaste. It is in numerous gluten free food products. I wonder if it is harmful, absorbed into the skin or used on the teeth? We all have to check ingredients carefully. Since so many people become ill after eating xanthan gum, I’m surprised it is still an ingredient in many products!

  8. I recently had a food sensitivity test done by my naturopathic physician and discovered I am sensitive to Potatos. Potato is used as an additive in many products and Xanthan gum is also one. There is not a lot written about potato intolerance but the use is wide spread.

      • Thanks for the nightshade info! I have had so many food sensitivities and eliminated so many foods over the last three years. I’m not sure I want to avoid nightshades. My functional medical doc mentioned them as possible problems or triggers recently, but since I am trying to NOT lose any more weight, she didn’t say I should avoid them. I have Hashimoto’s, but I haven’t really been able to figure out what my triggers are, and eliminating so many foods hasn’t helped at all. Depending on the year taken, sensitivity testing has indicated numerous “equivocals” on the Cyrex Lab testing and numerous “moderates” on the Meridian Valley testing. In the last testing in January, I had few “avoids” except for cow dairy, eggs, and beef, duck eggs (who eats those?) and avocado! Xanthan Gum was “moderate”. Nightshades include some of my staples so I hesitate eliminating them. I didn’t have a sensitivity to any of them in January.

        I don’t know how you all feel, but I am very confused by the test results. If you have been eliminating various foods and not noticed any specific reactions, one way or another, what does that mean? I wonder about the accuracy of the tests, and the results seem to differ each year. If it weren’t so expensive, I’d like to have both tests- or even three tests- done in one day, just to be able to compare their results. Would they be the same or different? Unless one becomes really ill from a particular food, I question the findings on these tests! Eating is becoming more a chore than a pleasure!


  9. I am a 68 year old woman who had just received results from allergy testing. My suspicions were verified. I am allergic to wheat and dairy. The first thing I did was to buy five different gluten free cookies made by the same company. I wanted to try them out. Since they were small I tried two of each different cookie. That does sound excessive but trust me they were small. Soon after eating them I became nauseated, my normally low blood pressure went crazy, I had stomach pains. I thought I was going to throw up and thought I might need to call an ambulance. I looked at the boxes when I finally settled down. Xanthan gum was the only common ingredient I could find. I mentioned it to my allergy specialist who seemed to slough it off. Fast forward a couple of months. I tried a big gluten free muffin. I was really hungry for the treat. Halfway through I had similar symptoms. When I researched xanthan gum I found that it is often made from wheat, soy, corn, or dairy derivatives. Mystery solved. I am allergic to wheat and dairy so gluten free is often unusable for me. They do not often state what is used to make it from.

    • It is not because it is sometimes made from wheat. I am hypersensitive to gluten (which is not an allergic reaction but is still extreme and lasts 10 days), but I have no problem with dextrose made from wheat, and still xantham gum does horrible things to me. Lots of “specialists” dismiss food intolerances if they are not proved to be allergic reactions or coeliac disease. Congratulations to everyone here who has worked out their own food intolerances without or in spite of specialist advice!

  10. Hi, someone mentioned today that exanthumum gum may not be such a benign food, which is how I found this chat. I use it in the spelt bread I make in the bread machine. I have self-diagnosed myself as being intolerant to sugars. I have never gone to a professional. Foods on my no-no list are: wheat, barley (malt is derived from barley and in a lot of foods), oats, dried fruits, chocolate, coffee, juices and highly sugared food (jelly beans and it’s like). When I eat the wrong foods I get uncomfortable, bloated and very gassy!
    I am always on the look out as to why I seem to be affected somewhat again, when it seems I haven’t eaten any of the wrong foods. Now I need to test myself with XG. (Also, what would my bread be like without the XG?)
    If anyone has any info to share with me or where I can learn/share my intolerances, I would appreciate it. Thank you

    • Hi. If you press Ctrl+f, then type sacha in the search bar, you should find my post/reply that is located many posts below. I putted in that reply two hyperlinks to websites that I used to do learn more on XG. If you’re intolerant to XG, at the end of one of those links, there are alternatives, like Chia seeds.

  11. Xanthan gum leaves a nasty taste and smell after about 10 hours. Sometimes I can taste that nasty taste when I eat. I hate Xanthan gum. I hate I can’t find a salad dressing without it in Health Food Stores.

    • Same here. Now if I want salad dressing, I begrudgingly make my won from scratch and take it with me. This includes meals at other family members’ houses. A real bother, but my gut always thanks me!

    • I can lose custody of my disabled son because I don’t want this staff to be given to him.Many months he was in pain screaming day and night,still Speech and language Therapist insist on continuing .I keep him at home to prevent further distress .If you think does not affect humans think twice.He is pain free now because he is at home thickener free.

  12. Hi, I found out many years ago now that E415 xanthan gum makes me very ill indeed. I suffer from IBS but if I digest that stuff I suffer stools like water and such bad stomach pain that I usually pass out from it. It took a lot of working out what was causing these painfully episodes, but evertime it happened I’d get every box or packet out of the bin and write down all of the ingredients. Eventually I found the common denominator was xanthan gum. Since I’ve been off the stuff I have had a vast improvement of health, occasionally I digest some without knowing usually when eating out but I soon known about it within a few hours. I was getting I’ll once and found it in out toothpaste, another time I was getting slowly worse each day untill I realised it was in some new liquid the wife was buying for the dishwasher! Same problem with barrier cream at work once. So everyone close knows about it now and tries to help when eating with them. I even had cards made up that said Allergy advice E415 anoxic seizure. This given to a restaurant had a much better effect that just asking as you know they just thought here’s some weirdo with some bloody allergy and didn’t really bother to investigate properly. Because of that card I even had a restaurant tell me it was in the mashed potatoes!
    So beware it’s in some odd stuff so be careful.

    • yes it is.Problem is so called professionals prescribe it to elderly,disabled with dysphagia for their “benefit”

    • Hi. I suffer with IBS and lately been in horrendous pain, bloating, stabbing pains etc and need the loo ASAP not good. I’ve even gone to Drs and awaiting blood test results and a tummy scan. Anyway had two bad attacks this week and looked at a sauce I’ve used twice this week and it contains Xantham gum so started researching this morning and found your result and others so I’ll have to watch out for other products as being aware is so helpful.

  13. What the article does not question here is why stool water content is increased with xanthan-gum consumption and I think it is very important to trace the cause. Logically, I believe that xanthan-gum, being a an agent to connect the cells, pulls water out with it as it goes through our bodies, hence, substantially dehydrating them.

  14. I get extreme gas pains and terrible bouts of loose stools from xanthan. Being gluten and dairy free is difficult for me, but it has made my life so much better. I guess I need to avoid this as well.

  15. I’ve suspected I have a delayed reaction to many commercially produced gluten free breads for a while, and avoid them. More recently, I had quite an extreme reaction to a high quality “detox” shake. The effect on my bowel was similar to that I experience after consuming the bread, and after dairy (very painful and unpleasant) The ingredient in common was Xanthan gum. It’s hard for me to be sure, because of the delayed nature of the reaction. But I think it must be the gum.

  16. I’ve had spasms in my gut, not painful but not normal either, since buying some gluten free and dairy free brownies containing Xanthan gum recently and they are the only change in my diet.

  17. I did a cleanse 5 days ago that contained xanthum gum, I’ve been sick every since. I only had 2 servings. I’ve had stomach cramps & diarrhea every since. It’s horrible! I am lactose intolerant & allergic to sulfa products, I’m wondering if the xanthum gum was made in dairy.

      • Actually, see Web MD – Xanthan Gum CAN be made on lactose. It can be made on many different mediums, and the origination medium is not always divulged

    • Arromac, I get stomach cramps and diarrhea and acid reflux for at least three days after consuming anything that contains xanthan gum. There are other bad side effects for me too, but these are the first ones I get. If I get only a small amount (as in my favorite Panera spinach and artichoke souffles) I feel yucky all day in my lower gut and the acid reflux reminds me I shouldn’t have eaten what I did for breakfast.

  18. every BBQ sauce Ive followed for the last ten years that added xanthan gum over time became bland, boring and undesirable, even when I added them to recopies it was the same thing it made everything boring like the flavor was just sucked away, so i tried new sauces with xanthan gum and the same result just blah! so thru trial and error, now I specifically buy bbq sauces without and hands down they always have more flavor

    • Agree with you… i added it to my snack bar that i made to help keep it together… now it feels bland… 🙁 Feels and tastes like a gelatinous paste…

  19. Good article.today.my nutricionist.talk to buy a vegan protein.but them ingredient has.xanthine gum.well.not buy thanks for this articule

  20. Xanthan gum gave me horrible gas and bloating. I wasn’t able to sleep and it interfered with my ability to work. It was the only suspect ingredient (found in gluten free cookie mix). The rest of my diet was the usual foods I eat that don’t cause any issues for me. I will be avoiding all Xanthan Gum in the future. I already avoid Carageenan.

  21. For many years I have had a problem with fatigue and foggy brain that I could not explain. After 40 or so years of this condition and being told by doctors they had no idea what my problem was I learned that two food additives were the cause. Xanthan Gum and Carrageenan both do not add any thing to our food had been destroying my life. Many years of investigation lead me to the answer and a clear mind. Unfortunately it is in so many processed food and it is hard to track them all down so I still have periods of the old condition.
    I am a senior and live in low income housing where they prepare us one meal a day to make sure we are healthy. Sad to say this has cause the condition to return. So much of my life has been spent sleeping, and the long one is coming soon enough and I have so many things I would like to do and am unable due to this horrible food additive.
    I would give any thing to find out if any one else has this problem.

    • I’m so sorry to hear of your situation. I do worry about people who are subjected to prepared food in and by institutions. These foods often contain too many carbs (which can also cause sleepiness), additives like xanthan gum, and free glutamic acid (MSG) and its myriad of other names.

      MSG will put me to sleep faster than anything and I’ll be out for about 3 hours. I wouldn’t be surprised if MSG isn’t also causing you the sleepiness. It has so many other names and is very prevalent. I basically do not eat out anymore unless I’m very sure of the ingredients and find something that doesn’t include things that affect me. That means I rarely eat out.

      If you haven’t done so, you might be very interested in the information on the http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources website page.

      I don’t know what to tell you about how to change the established way of doing things. It never seems to be quick or easy. I don’t know if telling you to let the free meal go to the trash (except for the fresh fruit and vegetables, if they have any) is the answer for you either. You can speak up to the food service people, the administration, etc., but I know this doesn’t produce change quickly. Maybe keeping a log of what you eat and your reactions afterwards would be helpful. You could note the times you refuse the free meal versus the times you eat it and then how much time you sleep afterwards. That might be eye-opening for some.

      If you can afford to do so, avoid all processed foods and anything mixed up by an institution. My daughter and I are healthier for doing so and have less issues, but it isn’t always easy and we definitely don’t “fit in” with the mainstream.

    • Hi Myra

      Same problem here, difference is, I am 31. Still loads to do before my big sleep.
      After being diagnosed with IBS and allergic to gluten and maize, reading food labels have become a habit. I cant eat anything!!!

      On the bright side, it is a good thing, being also on low income, the answer is REAL FOOD

      I bough cheapest buckets I could find, with limited space, started growing my own organic food,

      and yes, I eat them RAW – you’ll have more energy to do everything you want,

      While I am waiting for my tiny crops, I buy frozen vegetables, after contacting the suppliers to make sure nothing is contaminated with toxin or gluten, they said, it gets picked, washed, and flash frozen, they said my question is odd, but would say it is safe to eat raw
      All I do is pop them frozen into the microwave/Steamer, then defrost them a bit, not to get too hot, I don’t want them to loose their nutrient, them eat them just like that with some Sea salt and real butter

      After a while you get used to living on fruit and vegetable only
      (in the evening I consume a nice piece of meat, with mushrooms sauce made with cream)

      So I am managing to loose weight, eat healthy, releasing me from horrible fog brain ON A BUDGET.

      If Low cost housing people gives you food for free, ask them to keep some raw food for you aside, they don’t have to cook it for you, saving time and money for them.

      How did I get to this site. Bought a pouch of pesto thinking it would be healthy, the ingredient certainty are, but one ingredient caught my eye, not sure what is was, so I google’d it and got to this site.

      Happy Raw Real food Eating 🙂

      (Go and google vegetable container gardening)

    • Yep, came to this site wondering why my depression gets worse if I eat too much commercial gf bread or pastry. It’s just started up again and foggy is exactly how I’d describe it. That, and really really sad for no reason. Thanks for posting.

  22. i read alot of comment on alot of things, having dealt with short bowel & ibsd for many years, try having to read everything & have companies force feeding u artificial sweeteners under chemical names. shopping the store with me is no fun because companies keep changing formulations to meet the growing “i gotta b skinny” need. I just wanna eat , enjoy my foods, & not b force fed something that raises my blood pressure , causes me severe migraines & flushes my already speedy bowel. While there are not alot of folks like me out here with this sensitivity, we are out here, it would b kinda to place the i contain splenda or nutra sweet or steveia on front of the label & not hide the crap at bottom of a list of all natural products.

  23. I was gluten-free for years — until GF products started making me violently ill. One winter, I wanted to make homemade sufganiyot (fried jelly doughnuts) for Chanukah and a friend convinced me to use fresh (Bob’s) xanthan gum in the dough. The doughnuts were delicious, but I was sick for two days! That’s when I figured out what my sensitivity was.

    The people sensitive to XG may be a small minority, but we exist and we eat food and walk on this earth just like anyone else. For people without this sensitivity, I would ask — would YOU continue to eat an ingredient that left you sick and tied to the bathroom almost as bad as having a stomach virus? (I’ve had norovirus, and XG symptoms come very close). Of course, the answer is no!

    The problem is — someone in the food additives industry is very, very good at upselling this industrial product as a safe food additive. It may be safe for “most” people — fine, whatever. But it’s showing up in everything. Everything! Sriracha. Salad dressing. Lotion. Cream cheese. Freaking coconut milk! Most of you have listed most of the foods in the comments. The question really is — why is it all of a sudden everywhere? How come nobody has yet exposed the food additive industry and shed some light on these gums? (If someone has, please, I will read it, diligently. Thanks in advance).

    For those of us who cannot tolerate XG, our gastronomic world is slowly becoming smaller and smaller. I was an ardent label-reader before, and I use very little processed “food” at home, but now, I can’t go to a restaurant without first going to the website and looking at ingredients (or, if it’s not a chain, actually calling the chef to ask about XG). Places that seem “healthy” or foods that seem “clean and safe” are often so amazingly processed (I am looking at you, Boston Market) and XG use rampant. To have read these comments to hear it’s also in medicines, cough syrups, and the like… !!!!!!!!! No words.

    I am currently in bed sick from an errant decision on my part — hubby and I went to one of his fave chain sandwich places for a late lunch and I, having been on a no GPS (grains, potatoes, sugar) diet for three weeks now, got a salad without a second thought. Ate half that “healthy” meal and knew already I was sick, sick. Checked the website when I got home… you guessed it. A triple whammy of XG. Now I’ll spend the weekend between the bed and the bathroom, and NOT for fun reasons.

    Thanks for the article, and thanks to the commenters as well. I read almost every one of your comments (even the haters/trolls) and all I can say is — know you aren’t alone, and we need to still keep asking why and who about this additive. It may be harmless to most people and possibly may be beneficial to some — but there is no reason on God’s green earth for it to show up in almost every class of food. Even the most careful, clean eaters amongst us need to be able to let someone else do the cooking, or grab a small treat like an ice cream or what-have-you, from time to time. IMO.

    • You mentioned XG in everything. I am allergic to Palm, Coconut and Soy. Try finding food (salad dressing, etc) without one of those and everytime I think I have it; I find XG in it and have no clue if it is from corn or soy.

      I am turning into a much cleaner eater but it sure limits any dining out.

      Thanks for the info.

    • Google Food Babe. She has a great blog that covers research on additives and healthy eating and healthy alternatives.

    • I have recently been diagnosed Celiac and have actually had worse symptoms since going gluten free. I suspected xanthan gum was a problem for me before, but now I know! This ingredient is in rampant in prepared gluten free products.

  24. Appreciate the article – I was led here by my Google inquiry as to whether or not xanthin gum, which I saw on a beverage label, is harmful to recipients of an organ transplant, which would be me. Molds and bacteria are something we transplant recipients avoid as we are immunosuppressed. I didn’t find the answer here but will discuss with my doc.

    • My daughter has a rare disease and it’s causing weak muscles in the mouth and throat. She needs to go onto thickened fluids now but most of them contain maltodextrin and this seems to be causing massive migraines. She has also had a kidney transplant … I am looking for a thickener that does not contain maltodextrin and xanthan gum keeps coming up. Does anyone know if it would be safe to try this ? She gets very constipated so softening of stools would be great if that’s one of the side effects.

  25. I feel I have to chime in here as there seems to be a lot of misinformation on ingredients that are used in foods and cosmetics.

    I can understand that there are a small number of people allergic to certain ingredients. This is normal. In North America we have ~530 million people. There’s bound to be ONE person allergic to even water. But lets not freak out and ban one ingredient after another. At some point you’ll walk into a store and there won’t be anything for sale. It’s a slippery slope.

    As far as xanthan gum is concerned there’s information suggesting there MAY be a link to necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants fed a food thickener http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm256250.htm Any other animal or human study has found no safety concerns. Should we freak out? More study is required and perhaps ban it for infants until the information is available.

    As far as a cosmetic ingredient the safety is very good, in fact not many ingredients are as safe: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/706998/XANTHAN_GUM/

    One of the reasons we chose xanthan gum for our natural shampoo formula is because we use decylglucoside surfactant, which can’t be thickened with conventional thickeners. Xanthan gum in our opinion, especially for a topic is extremely safe. We refuse to use SLS-based surfactants – for obvious reasons.

    A few years back we had to substitute rice protein in our conditioner because customers were freaking out about wheat protein. Again, we are talking about a topical product further diluted on wet hair. BTW, there is NO gluten in wheat protein. I know what gluten is, I was a professional baker for over a decade.

    While allergic reactions are a concern (and we get the occasional call) we can’t get rid of every single ingredient in manufacturing because a handful of people are allergic. At some point you’ll walk into a store and there won’t be anything available for sale.

    So my point is, if you really think you are allergic to a particular ingredient(s) then avoid those products. But painting a product as hazardous to the general population because you are allergic to it – goes against science.

    At the recent CHFA West tradeshow we saw one company selling “lunch boxes” snacks for kids advertising soy free, gluten free, wheat free, dairy free, etc…. what is it… cardboard? Is that still considered a food? Where do we draw the line?

    As a company we are trying our best to make products as natural as possible. We spend an incredible time researching all available ingredients. We don’t use artificial colour, fragrance, mineral oil, propylene glycol, parabens, UREA, SLS, etc. It seems that “doing the right thing” is getting more and more difficult – frustrating at times. But we believe in what we do and all the phone calls we get from people who have solved their health problems give us encouragement.

    • Thank you Peter. and Yes, “doing the right thing” IS getting harder and harder these days and more and more expensive. We are losing the joy of eating and living in general, because so much is man made and hurting us and we have to be so vigilant instead of truly living. Thank you for your information. What is your company?

      I learned a couple of years ago, to stop washing my hair so much every week. A young woman was complaining to me the other day about how oily her skin is and I asked how often she washes her hair “every day” I no longer do. It took a few weeks to get my oils balanced and now I don’t have drying out hair, nor oily skin. I wash once maybe twice a week. (my hair, not me!!!)

      Well, I never had a problem with food reactions, tens of years ago but now do. I have long said, I am not sure it is the Wheat etc as we ate those tens of years ago with relatively few problems but that it must be the things we now add in, AND the GMO and pesticides etc. I can eat a bread in a certain restaurant on several visits….no problem, then all of a sudden one evening and I can barely make it to the facilities in time. Scary and embarrassing to say the least. Whenever I come back to the States from living in London, I have a horrible time eating salads in the restaurants (I use oil and vinegar) I think it is the pesticides and or whatever they use to wash the greens with.

      So, I truly do not think for most of us, it is the actual food, but all these other man made and included products. When I was young you rarely heard of anyone having an allergy to anything…..and then it started being to nuts, and that grew, and now some people are allergic to almost everything. It’s frightening and the very sad part, we have very little control. Our medications even have additives that bother us. I have a surgery to schedule and I am dreading it for many reasons, and a large one is my violent reaction to the anesthetics the last two times plus the IV drips. One was making me so “nervous” and itchy that when it fell out, I refused to allow them to put it back in. With an hour, my whole body was in peace. We fought that one because they insisted it needed to go back in “in case of an emergency” Scary what we are ingesting…..vaccines as well…..mainly for the additives. We have so little choice anymore

      anyway, back to my question: what is your company? you produce natural shampoos? Thank you

      • It’s http://www.ferlowbotanicals.com , “natural” is our motto although these days it seems rather worn-out in the industry. Many say “organic” etc yet they may use a couple organic extracts but the other 95% of the product is conventional garbage.

        I think a lot of the issues in the last few years do have something to do with the GMO situation. There are plenty of studies where people have had reactions to GMO corn for instance, but going back to non-gmo corn they still have issues as their body has no labeled corn as bad.

        Gut bacteria is also a big one. The new trend of introducing someone else’s healthy gut fecal matter to correct your own gut health. Recently I heard of a scientific study (excuse me for not finding the link) where rodents fed exactly the same food – one group had fecal matter from an obese person in their gut and the second group fecal matter from a thin person. The fat group grew fat and the thin group stayed thin. Interesting stuff. If you eat 20 bags of chips and 10L of cola every night that probably won’t help you but – gut bacteria seems to be very important.

        Yep, we make gentle shampoos. People report less hair in the shower drain. They don’t completely strip all oils off the scalp. We don’t use SLS – what’s used in garage floor cleaner.

        • Thank you Peter. Very informative on both topics. SLS?

          The gut bacteria sounds interesting. It sounds as though the overweight person, if eating properly, is on a Sysiphus type battle because of their bacteria. So now the key is how to change the gut bacteria of the overweight person. Are there thoughts on that?

          • Sorry, SLS is short for sodium-lauryl-sulfate and it’s cousins. It’s the cheapest surfactant out there. Kind of harsh stuff.

            Start here on the fecal bacteria: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fecal_bacteriotherapy

            My only query on it would be that – what makes the newly introduced fecal bacteria more powerful than your own? In other words what if your existing bacteria wipes out the newly transplanted bacteria – you start from scratch and problems continue? I’m no doctor so can’t answer that one.

            The wiki article is interesting as it talks about all the other gut issues like IBS, colitis, etc.

    • There’s a big difference between “eliminating every ingredient due to possible allergy” and producing food and body products that avoid COMMON allergens – corn being one. I am one of those acute sufferers from xanthum gum. I’ve also had clients baffled why gluten free products make them sick – and find out they also have a corn allergy, and are reacting to Xanthum Gum. There are common enough allergies that wouldn’t be too hard to cater to OR mark your product as “Containing Corn” just like products clearly label “Contains Dairy /Soy/Treenuts” YES Corn is that common of an allergy! I’ve spent time on the phone researching what the heck made me sick and found out most gel caps made from cellulose are also corn -based. After discussion with these companies, there is a general move towards labeling with corn warnings along with the rest. So think about it, if its that common – and it is – you might want to reconsider using a different ingredient OR clearly labeling for common allergy sufferers. A lot of people don’t even understand what they are having a negative reaction to – for instance, many people don’t know xanthum gum is grown on a corn base and impacting them. Thanks for your re-consideration.

    • Try being allergic to corn.. Hf corn syrup.. Corn syrup.. Corn starch etc.. Then chime in. I can barely eat anything while I watch everyone else enjoy food. That would be why im 106lbs. If you don’t deal with it personally, you don’t understand.

    • Hi Peter, thank you for your informative post, unfortunately it is not as simple as you put it to avoid the dreaded XG, it is also in medication which has been high lighted to medical staff by myself, during my son (14 years of age) stay in hospital. my delightful son has multiple allergies one of them being XG. I’m deeply concerned that XG is in pain relief and creams to numb pain. What is even more worrying is that people are not aware that it may be derived from, soy, corn,dairy and or wheat as it does not state which of the above.

  26. After swelling up like I was 7 months pregnant in the space of one hour, I then ended up with an intestinal hemorrhage and in the ER, $5000+ in dept for useless endoscopic and coloscopic investigations on account of the inadvertent consumption of Xanthan gum (after moving to a country that uses it, from a country where it is non existent and thus unsuspecting of the dangers). I now can’t leave the house without the tedium and time constraints of making a homemade picnic because God forbid I should I should get hungry what I’m on the move.

    • We also have to prepare food to take with us. It is very difficult to find foods at a restaurant or fast food place that is safe for us to eat. I recently found out that McDonald’s frozen strawberry lemonade has xanthan gum in the strawberry syrup.

  27. I have had digestive issues for a long time and found that I am best when I eat fresh fruit and vegetables and no processed foods. It’s inconvenient but it eliminates the awful symptoms. On two occasions recently, after eating a coconut based ice-cream (marketed as vegan, dairy free, certified kosher, soya free, egg free, gluten free, nut free, no added sugar!) I have had terrible diarroeah (and on the second occasion nausea as well). The ingredients are coconut milk, coconut nectar, date, tamarind and XANTHAN GUM. I’ll be steering clear of Xantham Gum in the future.

  28. In the last 15 yrs, many additives have arrived in our foods – the “gums”, vanillin, chocolate liquor, caramel coloring, annatto and more. Whether they are natural or scientifically safe, they have made my life miserable. I used to eat any food, but now these additives are everywhere as others have noted. I’ve also found that Xanthum gum in combination with baking soda, as an ingredient in GF baked goods, causes an unusual problem. A nerve? from the brain, along the left side of my body, to the groin, to the toes….feels like it is being yanked over and over. I suppose it’s a spasm? It goes on for HOURS and subtly into the next day or so. It doesn’t happen with 1-2 cookies or muffins, but a few extra, when I can’t resist newly baked items. I can brush my teeth with baking soda, so I suspect the combination of BS and XG. I eat GF because gluten gives me migraines. So, I eat GF foods w Xanthum gum, which gives me diarrhea, if I eat day after day. Unlike others here, I don’t get bloating and gas. All the ingredients I mentioned give me migraines. I would believe MANY more people are suffering in silence or ignorance of what food additives are doing to their bodies. I have friends who mention things, but are embarrassed to discuss. Science is unsympathetic, so writing to food companies, not eating such foods, writing about such problems elsewhere might be helpful.

  29. After months of strange allergic reactions to different types of foods, I began a food journal to track and discover what the trigger may be. I had allergic reactions in the form of hives on my lips and would immediately need to use the restroom. My lip skin and the skin surrounding, would take weeks to fully heal.

    So after eating certain Cheese products, ice cream, Chalula (hot sauce), Siracha (hot sauce), I realized the common ingredient was Xanthan Gum!!!! But its not just in food, I also has to throw out a few body lotions as well.

    I have gotten into the habit of checking all ingredients before ingesting (although I rarely eat prepared foods). A coworker brought me in a Caramel Frappacino yesterday; I fully enjoyed it until I started breaking out in hives! My arms were red and swollen in less than ten minutes and started getting dizzy. Lucky for my purse being stocked with Benedryl; took 3 pills and drank about a .5 gallon of water. Once my body calmed down I googled the ingredients of the Frapp, and what do ya know? Xanthan Gum!!!!!

    So this additive has found its way into all areas of production. That was my worst reaction yet, and very scary.

    • The food journal for the purpose of pinpointing allergies is a great idea. I’ve developed soy, yeast, corn and gluten allergies. I’ve been GF for about 2 years. However I’m sick just a out every day. I’ve tried to improve my diet but pretty much every day I have painful gas, bloating and diarrhea. I did a juice cleanse recently and felt great after with none of these symptoms. The first solid meal I had after was stir fry with veggies, quinoa and chicken. I used a trader Joe’s sauce. About 2 hours later I felt awful again. Today I had a salad with marzetti salad dressing. Again, 2 hours later, I’m sick. The common ingredients are soybean oil, yeast extract and xanthan gum. I guess I know what to avoid now. I’m so tired of feeling like crap! I’m going to do the food journal to see what ingredients exactly, are making me sick. I guess GF isn’t enough if most GF products have xanthan gum.

      • Yes Zoni- avoid the GF products as almost all contain Xanthum Gum. Make your own. Its also possible you may have developed a grain allergy, which is what happened to me. Bake your own items using Tapioca flour, Garbanzo flour, and Coconut flour mixed together, unless you have an allergy to any of those (I develop intolerance to Tapioca and Coconut too if I have it frequently). If you aren’t allergic to nuts you can also use Almond flour. Good luck!!

  30. my daughter has gastro problems. She has restricted diet due to intolerances including dairy, many fruits, xanthan gum. During a recent illness she was prescribed amoxicillin. She has experienced continuous hiccupping, bloated stomach and tummy pain. After searching the web for amoxicillin ingredients, found out it contains xanthan gum. It’s difficult to get people to acknowledge this intolerance as most of them have never heard of it.

    • That’s like when my doctor prescribed me anti-histamines to combat the hives from my severe allergies – and only made them worse – as the anti-histamines contained corn! yes I empathize!

    • Yes I agree….we are from the U.K. I always ask the pharmacist…if it contains XG, Maize, or Guar guar gum…which is
      derived from bean product!! Recently found out…you can have the same meds such as cetirizine, a antihistamine, with or without Maize (Sweetcorn) you would never know unless you read the ingredients!! Usually the liquid does not contain the Maize…but the tablet does.

  31. Thanks, Chris, just what I needed: I have a serious problem with starches and the last thing I need is ‘bulk’! I have steered clear of Xanthan and guar gum for this reason, on a ‘gut feeling’ that it’s not a good option for me. You just confirmed that my gut might not function on a physiological level but its instincts are doing fine:-)!

  32. My father had Huntingtons, and this eventually meant he had difficulty swallowing. We were told to use Simply think in all of his drinks, soup. He did suffer great digestive distress. I wonder if this was why?

    • In our desire to help, but in ignorance, we may actually cause more pain. By giving my autistic daughter (who had digestive issues from before I adopted her) gluten free products, I may very well have exacerbated her problem. So many gluten free foods contained (and now even more contain) xanthan gum. I even bought a big bottle to use in cooking. Thank heaven I never got around to using it! We can only learn and move on.

  33. Hi, Great post, I have been gluten free 4 years now, basically 80.10.10 diet which has cut out the intake of Xanathan gum. I know the diet is very basic but have never felt better. I am 66 and am still working. I use hemp flour as a protein supplement in my smoothies with no side effects. Almost everything I eat is fresh. Aches and pains in joints etc are minimal unless I stray. (unintentially) when I visit a restaurant and eat something GF, which turns out to be not free I then suffer sleep disorder, digestive disorders etc and generally feel off color for 2-4 days.

    • For removal of pain, try ‘Earthing.’ All of my chronic neck pain is gone, and energy levels are way up. It simply works!

  34. I love xanthan gum. I have IBS-C and taking just 1 tsp of this per day is about the only thing that prevents me from getting blockages, which could get me in the ER 3 times per year because of impactions, even with prescribed meds.

    I had tried anything from any and every type of probiotic, to any and every type and dose of fiber, to any and every type of med, to any and every type of diet, bowel training and so on. I spent the last 10 years struggling with that. And just when I was about to settle down to giving myself an enema every few days for the rest of my life, I found xanthan gum (gosh I sound like an infomercial but I’m really sincere).

    Not enough gas to bring discomfort (at least not more than my initial issues), and as time passes the colon gets used to it and it lessens. I don’t care if someone tries to guilt-trip me about unnatural this and chemical that, this is the best remedy I have ever found.

    • I’m so glad this is helpful to you and hopefully some others as well. It just goes to show we’re all different. It’s just too bad many folks are having intestinal distress and perhaps blaming it on food poisoning when it may really be related to xanthan gum and their previous gut issues. It would be great if it could be left out of food and only sold as a supplement for health and home cooking and the rest of the world not be fed it in so many other items without knowing the possible consequences.

      • I agree, it should be sold as a medication or remedy for constipation for those who need it to relieve symptoms, not forced upon the general public as an additive, for whom it can cause severe and even dangerous side effects, like for me intestinal hemorrhage.

  35. Interesting. I’m another with reactions–dx’d with celiac’s, I tried xanthan gum powder for home cooking–found it obviously problematic & more gut pain than wheat ever caused. Recall reading original use was as an oil rig drill lubricant; its discovery was from mold found on cabbage.
    I couldn’t believe when I read in your article that hospitals fed this to infants–what nutritional value did they think it had? It dehydrates the gut due to it’s ability to attract and hold a vast amount of fluid.

    • Pharmaceutical composition for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease
      US 7341741 B1
      Please all read the above US Patent this material is used to treat IBD Crohns & Left Side Ulcerative Colitis

      • Nexabiotic 23 Probiotics with Doctor Recommended L Acidophilus B Infantis S Boulardii, Stomach Acid Resistant

        In addition to the above reply I would also like to comment that intestinal Fluora composition can cause inflammation responses to foods and polysaccharides. The above product has also been used to correct C. difficile. The probiotics repopulate the intestinal fluora and prevent other bacteria from overwhelming the gut with toxins that can cause inflammation. Please look up this product or a similar one and try it. See if some of your food allergies abate.

  36. I was diagnosed with Wegener’s Granulomatosis over three years ago. I am looking to cook gluten and grain free except for grains Mike amaranth, millet, etc. I am always hunting for anything that will take down the inflammation levels. I’d like to get off the prednisone but no far this hasn’t been possible.

  37. thanks for your article and yes it did help with my concern i don’t eat animal nor any dairy…so most of my chooses are vegan recipes. what i miss most about not eating any dairy is grill cheese, so i discover Daiya Mozzarella style shreds yummy…then after reading an article from food babe regarding ingredients in vegan process food harmful to you digestive system. i checked the ingredients in my cheese and was glad it doesn’t contain any of the ingredients food babe mention. one of the ingredients is xanthan gum so now im on a mission to check all the ingredients (daunting job) so was so thankful for your article

    • My son is allergic to dairy and I have been reading labels, researching and blogging like crazy now… I too found some of the only truly dairy free products we can use, contain this gum now also… so idk what to do.. I am going to call the companies to check, but otherwise there is almost nothing completely dairy free out there to have on hand.. everything has to be made from scratch it seems…

      • I am having the same concerns. My daughter has cow’s milk protein allergy, but these gums are often derived from soy and dairy. The thing that is making me think that is OK, as un-natural as it is, xanthan gum is derived from the sugars, not the proteins. Thoughts?

        • Hi All, My son is in his 14th year and has multiple allergies…….dairy is one if the groups…just would like you to be aware…he received pain relief that contained xgum….oh my…the eyes and lips all swelled…and this took place in hospital….so please be extra cautious!! as XG..may derive from dairy, soya, corn or wheat!

  38. I was diagnosed with celiac about 5 or 6 months ago. Prior to that, I had a soy intolerance – probably from half a life-time of eating lots of soy products as I was a vegetarian due to my religion. Once the celiac kicked in, I started having problems with gluten free foods, like most people on this site. I use a pendulum to let me know what is in foods before I buy or eat them. But being older and lazy, I sometimes neglect to bring it out. Plus other members of my family think I’m crazy using it. But it has saved me a lot of grief. I found out the hard way that xanthan gum was one of my big problems as I ate some gluten free bread and knew I had been “glutened”. So, I went over every ingredient with my pendulum, and sure enough, it was xanthan. Last night, we took my DIL out for her birthday dinner – restaurant had a very nice gluten free menu, and I went over it with the pendulum, and my meal was fine. But then they brought out a dish of ice cream which my DIL doesn’t eat, so the rest of us dug in – I had about two teaspoons of it, and last night, my heart sped up, my joints ached,. This morning, my tummy felt like crap and I was nauseated. So, I took the pendulum out and went over everything I ate, and sure enough, xanthan gum in the ice cream. Some foods cause my mouth to tingle right away, but once in a while, I get a delayed reaction and know I have been “glutened” with the stuff. Now I have to go through everything in the house to make sure none of my toiletries, etc. contains the stuff. I am almost 80 years old and would really like to feel good the rest of what is left of my life if I can.

  39. For years I struggled with some sort of mystery food intolerance. It happened often, especially when eating out. I could not figure out what was bothering me, but whatever it was would have me doubled over on the toilet for hours, sometimes also leading to vomiting. Doctors ran all sorts of tests, including an upper GI and allergy tests. I tried an elimination diet, but was unable to find the culprit. Fast forward to when I was breast feeding… my son was having a skin problem that may have stemmed from something in my diet, so I cut the likely culprits (dairy, egg, soy, etc.) to see if I could figure it out. It wasn’t until I cut out wheat that I put two and two together. I had bread with xanthan gum in it and, boy, did it make me sick!! Just about every commercial gluten free baked good had the same effect. Then, I noticed that I often got sick when I had salad at restaurants (nearly all commercial dressings contain xanthan gum- at home I always made my own dressing, so how would I know this?). It didn’t take long to narrow it down at that point. Now that I avoid it, the mystery is solved. Whenever I do have a reaction, I can generally trace it back to a xanthan gum source. That stuff is awful, and in so many things! From cough syrup to cream cheese, it’s a mine field whenever I ingest something from a kitchen other than my own.

    • Thank you Shea for sharing your knowledge about the different foods that have bothered you. I also often have to literally run to the bathroom after eating in restaurants, usually before I even finish eating. I knew it was not spoiled food because no one else would get sick from the same food. I always attributed it to something that is sprayed on salads. Now I truly believe it is an Xanthan Gum allergy or reaction.

  40. Are Xantham Gum molecules absorbed into the skin? I have an intolerance to it, so I don’t eat it in food, but it is in gluten free cosmetics. Will it be safe to use them, or should I avoid them completely? I’m confused. Thanks.

    • I had this same question. I don’t have an intolerance however. I would assume that it’s safe to use on the skin as it probably wouldn’t make it to the intestines.

    • I react badly to xantham gum in my food, but do not have a problem with it in cosmetics (I do check that it is not in anything going on or near my lips). Having said that, I try to avoid buying anything with it in, as I really don’t like the idea of that gum gunging up my drains either!!

  41. Thanks for the info. I’ve been doing lots of research lately due to fear of many things put in our food and due to a frat brother’s death from supplements.

    I haven’t had any problems but this helps alot!

    • Theo,

      I have been on large doses of supplements for a year. Is it possible for you to expand on what happened with your frat brother? I’ve been having some problems. Perhaps lead me somewhere to find out more about this?

      Thanks very much!

      • Although I do not know his great brother, I can tell you taking supplements is safe as long as you know what you are taking. Some supplements, such as Thrive by Le-Vel and HerbaLife, don’t list everything in their products. They claim a “proprietary blend” but don’t mention it. Simply doing your research on the supplement you are using can shove many problems. I use coconut oil and essential oils for most of my supplemental needs.

  42. I was born with Gastroschisis (born with my insides on the outside of my body) and and Xanthan Gum kills me.

    I hate when I buy something labeled “All Natural” or ” No artificial Anything”

    Does anyone agree with me that Xanthan Gum is not natural or think it IS Artificial..

    • I have a latex allergy and im allergic to all Gums (GAR, ARABIC, XANTHAN, ETC). None of it is safe in my opinion. I couldnt figure out why i was swelling up and in lots of pain until i seen the 4th allergy specialist and he know right off back what it was and since ive cut out eating them ive felt much better but its tricky cause that stuff is in everything we eat

  43. There sure are a lot of comments on this post and I must confess I have not read them all but agree with a number of posts to stay away from processed foods.

    I am wheat intolerant and so I avoid things like breads, pizza, biscuits/cookies, cakes, etc. You have to consider that these all contain processed products.

    So when gluten-free products became widely available I still avoided them because they too contain processed products.

    I make all my own “mayonnaise”, sauces, relishes, etc. and I use xanthan for some things, corn flour/corn starch for others or a combination of both but it’s always in small quantities and I don’t use/eat them every day and I have no issues/reactions.

    I think the biggest difference in my (food) life was to just avoid as many store-bought products as possible.

    It’s not always possible I understand, so the only preservatives I will accept on a food label are vitamin C (ascorbic acid/E300-305) or vitamin E (tocopherol/E306-309) otherwise I’m not buying it.

    I still enjoy the occasional burger or pizza but yeah, my body then let’s me know how naughty I’ve been :-p

    • I found that making my own baked goods makes a huge difference in my health. Now that GMOs are in ALL soy and corn in the U.S. that means there is Round Up poison in all products containing corn and soy, I find it impossible to eat any processed food. In addition to all the numerous items listed on the ingredients list that I can’t even pronounce, it just is too time consuming to constantly take time to research all the different ingredients. I make cookies with only 3 or 4 ingredients in them, same for pie crusts, and many more processed foods. For Easter this year, I’m making all my own, from salad dressings to biscuits to apple crisp for dessert. I found recipes online that don’t use xanthan gum.

    • Not all ascorbic acid/aka vitamin c is what it seems to be. Alot of food companies make their ascorbic acid/aka vitamin c from black mold.

      • Hi Marina

        Thanks for bringing this to my attention! So citric acid (E330) is made using black mould involving yet another evil…fructose corn syrup).

        While ascorbic acid (listed as E300) is found to be naturally occurring also, the industrial manufacturing process is different to citric acid and on a molecular level is the closest to vitamin C out of the two (naturally occurring ascorbic acid is a form of vitamin C).

        As with anything manufactured, that slight difference in structure most often denies it the ability to be assimilated as a food component by our bodies. It may act as a preservative but nothing more and in this case has little to no effect on the human body in such small quantities (from the research I’ve done…I’m certainly no chemist).

        In this case I’m ok with E300 considering the manufacturing process. Yes au naturale is prize #1 but everything is made up of a chemical combination, whether natural or man-made. I mean numerous fruit seeds contain cyanide but at such tiny doses do no harm to our bodies.

  44. I recently found out that I have a later in life intolerance to gluten. So in the course of avoiding it, I believe I am on to discovering that xanthan gum, in some of the new products (Udi’s for example) is also causing problems. A search about this led me to this page and others. I am going to search for products without it, and for the occasional treat, bake my own, using chia seed and banana and egg . That seems to work. I don’t think xanthan gum is at all necessary, and Hope the product manufacturers get wind of this development among so many people and stop using it.

  45. My wife has an supra pubic catheter which blocks with long strands of a mucoid white substance when she uses a liquids thickener containing xanthin gum. I am convinced that the blockage is caused by the gum and on cutting the catheter open and examining the substance it does mould in to something resembling chewing gum. However it seems unlikely that the thickener would be absorbed to pass into the bladder. Any thoughts on this, anyone? Thanks.

    • It’s possible, whatever we eat affects our whole system. When I have used Truvia sweetener it gave me a bladder infection, apparently a common side effect. So it’s possible that xanthan thickens your wife’s urine

  46. I have suffered for over 2 years with ‘something’ that is causing me to be miserable with explosive diarrhea, cramping and just a terrible time.
    I had a colonoscopy that revealed a type of colitis. However, I was shown to be negative with many tests prior to..parasite, gluten intolerance, etc. I gave up my sugarless gum but had no relief.
    I just finished a book by a favorite author and the character thought he was dying. He had all the tests and turns out it was a reaction to gluten-free products.
    How did you determine you had a reaction to xanthan gum? I never heard of this additive.
    Thank you.

    • By the way, I was negative on gluten intolerance tests too – they can actually only detect coeliac disease or wheat allergies. There is no medical test for what a lot of people have – hypersesitivity to gluten. You just have to cut it out and see if you feel better, and then, if you or those around you need further convincing, after a few weeks eat a little bit and see how you react.

      • Allergy tests for gluten are always accurate. I had a lot of allergy testing done over the last few years and nothing showed any gluten or gliadin intolerance. But then I did the 23andme genetic testing and holy cow! I got some amazing information and I am very intolerant to gluten and many other things I didn’t know even existed. Having this information and a doctor that knows how to interpret the information has been life changing for me. I had no idea about the Xgum and am now beginning to think that is why I am not feeling better. I’m better since going gluten free, but not better. Confusing, I know, but too much to explain. My daughter works at a bakery where they make many gluten free products that I have been eating for several months and I still feel like crud! They use Xgum in almost everything gluten free! So excited to find this article and comments. I have read all of them to this point to learn from regular people, so thank you everyone!

        • First sentence I meant to say AREN’T always accurate! So sorry for the typo! Allergy tests/intolerance tests AREN’T always accurate!! Mine weren’t!

  47. Hi, I’m intolerant to xantham gum, I identified this pretty quickly after realising that I was intolerant to gluten. The only thing you can do is read the labels on absolutely everything, and know the number (E415). I am very alarmed at how the use of xantham gum is spreading all the time. It started out with vinaigrettes, mayonnaise, and sauces, spread to cough medicines, a prescription antibiotic (please trust us to just shake the bottle instead of glooping everything!), toothpaste, lipstick (usually difficult to find ingredients), yoghurts, virtually all Danone products, coconut milk and my most recent “spotted just in time” moment – salami! I would be interested in hearing of any other bizarre uses. The manufacturers of xantham gum (who are they?) are clearly very adept at thinking up new applications and persuading the food and pharmaceutical industries that gloopy food is what people want, or that by adding xantham gum they can water down the product but still have it the same consistency. It’s the spread to the pharmaceuticals industry that I find particularly worrying – what is the best way to raise awareness of this?

      • As far as I’m aware it is always called either xantham gum or E415. When I first went gf I just cut all the gluten containing things from my diet, and didn’t buy special gf products – I live in France and at that time there was very little available here, and very expensive. On a trip to England I stocked up with lots of gf treats – biscuits, cakes, breads etc. I thought that I’d been accidentally “glutened” on my trip, but on returning home things didn’t clear up, so I started to examine all the labels of the things I’d been eating and xantham gum stood out as the one unfamiliar thing. I cut it out completely for a week, and felt completely better, and then did a “test”, eating some gluten free cakes and biscuits and even a spoonful of mayonnaise. I had all the proof I needed, but unfortunately now need to shop with a magnifying glass to read the food labels, and ask friends please not to buy something gf especially for me, as it’s bound to have xantham gum in it. If you think you have some unidentified food intolerances, keep a full food journal of everything you eat and drink for a few weeks, and any symptoms that you feel, it can really help to identify the culprits. By doing this I realised that I am also intolerant to aspartame (I always knew I hated diet drinks – learn to trust your instincts – but this aspartame was in a cough medicine) and that in France tinned lentils are contaminated with gluten. Good luck. What was the book incidentally?

        • Thank you!
          Unfortunately it will be a few months before my,insurance covers allergy testing.
          I have a friend who claims gluten intolerant but buys gluten free products.
          I am going to share.
          Janet Evanovich, fiction, TRICKY TWENTY TWO
          I willing to try anything to get back to normal.

  48. Is there anyone else who suffers from insomnia after eating products containing xanthan gum or guar gum? This has been happening to me for some years now but I can’t find anyone else who suffers the same? I am very intolerant of caffeine so am wondering if these products also contain caffeine.. I would love to hear from anyone else who can verify this.

    • One evening after work I was too lazy to cook, so I had some gluten-free brownies (which contained xanthan gum). I went to sleep for 10pm as usual. That night I found it IMPOSSIBLE to fall asleep. I was up until 2am just lying in bed, wide awake and alert, with thoughts rushing through my head. My brain felt hyper-alert/A.D.D., overwhelmed at times because of how fast my thoughts were rushing (or at least it felt that way). Finally around 2:30am my mind became fatigued from the rushing thoughts and I fell asleep.

      Every other night before this I would fall asleep within 10 minutes of lying in bed.

      So only eat xanthan gum products in the day as an alternative to coffee. But even then, I find the rushing thoughts midday to be overwhelming.

    • Hi yes i am the same. I can not tolerate xanthan gum or preservatives additives. I find i have insomnia. Also i find coffee affects my guts badly.. makes things seize up of you know what i mean ?

    • Hi Sharon, I can’t tell you how incredible it is to finally hear someone else with the same problem. I’ve been having this condition where my bottom swells up gets black and peels for years now. Still an unknown as to exactly what’s happening, but caffeine definitely fires it up.

      I tried a new organic pea protein powder tonight, and the next thing I know I was anxious and paranoid like a free basing crackhead. Couldn’t sleep, I was bug eyed like I swallowed a big gulp full of coffee, and my lip blew up. Fortunately the only thing it could’ve been was the pea powder caked in freaking xanthan gum. I took an antihistamine just now and the throat tingling, lips and fat tongue subsided, but Hello! I had no idea xanthan gum was an issue for me.

      • It could have been BOTH the pea protein AND the xanthan gum. Both contain FREE GLUTAMATE. Excess glutamate can cause insomnia and many other symptoms I’ve read described here. Glutamate is an “excitotoxin”. Xanthan gum contains free glutamate.

  49. I’m intolerant of gluten, milk protein, lactose, lamb and sugar alcohols (sorbitol, manitol etc.), and I too can’t tolerate this stuff (xanthan) – none of the other thickening gums cause any adverse effects for me at all but xanthan gum certainly does – at first the effects were negligible but they intensified over time with further exposure quite rapidly so that now even trace amounts can give me horrendous wind, diarrhea, cramps and just generally crappy ill-feelings. I love hot sauces and they give me no digestive problems at all on their own account, but unfortunately it’s now in almost all of these – got one the other week that had none listed on the label, but even 2 tiny splashes/abt. 1/4 tsp (it was a scotch bonnet and habanero sauce and VERY hot) in my meal caused me drastic wind, runs and rough feelings generally for a couple of days or more. I double checked the ingredients ‘Thickener E415’ – looked it up and sure enough that’s xanthan gum! Horrid stuff – even ‘Genius’ the British based gluten free bread company has dropped it from their ingredients (as have a couple of other GF bakeries) though this decision is causing them no end of technical difficulties trying to turn out a loaf that doesn’t become crumbs within a day! Don’t be fooled fellow sufferers, our numbers are not as small as you may think!

    • Hi, Genius have not removed xanthan gun. I have had severe IBS for over 20 years and for the first time every I bought two loaves of white gluten free bread last week: one was M&S gluten free and the other was Genius. I was ok with M&S, but had two slices of Genius this morning and have had severe bloating and diarrhoea ever since and am now curled up in bed on a Bank Holiday 🙁 I compared the ingredients, and the main thing is that Genius contains Xanthan gum whereas M&S doesn’t. I’ve wondered for a long time if I’m intolerant of xanthan gum – I often react badly to it if it’s in Philadelphia for example. Now I’m even more convinced.

  50. I have IBS and celiac disease…needless to say, I have suffered for many years with stomach disorders. I never followed the traditional approach to healing because I only believe in holistic medicine, but after what has seemed like “forever” I have educated myself on all the trigger foods and determined what I am able to eat (unfortunately I do not have much in the way of variety but it’s better than suffering). I am a gluten-free vegan who cannot have any wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, yeast, high mannitol or lectin content foods…and the list goes on I bake all my own muffins, pie crusts etc. and fanatically read every food label – even canola oil is a toxin for me. However, I recently had a craving for pizza. please note, I also need to avoid foods high in FODMAPS, but I didn’t think the garlic(a high fructose fermentable) content in Udi’s pizza would be catastrophic. I was actually fine the first few times I ate the pizza, but that soon changed and each time I ate it I would be sick the entire next day…it has a cumulative effect. I had not realized that xanthan gum was one of the ingredients because I was “determined” to enjoy some pizza…yes, very careless of me…in any event, I was violently ill as a result. I bake with gluten-free flour and have never used xanthan gum to make my baked goods rise – although every gluten-free site says to do so…instead, I use one and a half teaspoons of baking powder and i/2 teaspoon of salt for each cup of lour to achieve the same results. I now understand why I reacted so adversely to the xanthan gum…I hope my post can be of help to others who may have had a similar reaction.

    • I have many of the same issues! Thanks for the tip of using baking powder and salt. I have to make everything from scratch and this will help with my baking.

      • I am so glad I was able to help…people don’t understand how difficult it is to go gluten-free…it’s a whole new lifestyle with a lot of trial and error, isn’t it? I also use the egg substitute replacer because i can’t eat real eggs anymore…it works great for cookies, muffins, breads etc…

    • Thanks for the tips!! I, like you, cannot eat any of the foods you mentioned in your original post, and sometimes find it difficult to cook for the day. I went from South Africa to Serbia, where it is VERY difficult to find products and/ people to understand what you are even talking about. It is now considerably easier than it was 2 years ago but it is still a huge problem. As my sister lives in the UK, I too get lots of ‘bare products’ from there, but then soon run out of ideas as to what to make out of them and thus revert to rice and potato – as they are easy to take whereever you go. I have for the past 10 years suffered from UVEITIS and have developed additional food intolerances due to either my ‘condition’ or as consequence of medication. Lots of people do not believe that food plays a part in either one but my experience tells me otherwhise. I hope that you will carry on with the posts and suggestions for us!! Thanks a million!!

    • thank u so much. i wish to make my own and was looking for what i can use instead. this is great. thank you so much.

  51. I am an RN that works primarily with medically fragile disable children of various congenital disease/muscoskeletal disorders such as Cerebral Palsy.
    I have been increasingly concerned about the dose, frequency, and duration of Miralax ordered for these children (ages from infants as young as 12 months up to young adult). Most receive it routinely b/c of routine medications that cause medication induced constipation, others simply b/c they are immobile and prone to constipation. Most receive it for numerous years consecutively. Now that I have worked with this patient population for > 5 yrs, I am noticing a trend.
    We have had 3 deaths, and multiple hospitalizations r/t to paralytic bowel. I’m beginning to wonder if there is a correlation?

      • We use arrowroot as a thickener quite often. It’s a little slipperier or slimier, but doesn’t cause bad reactions in us.

      • No, Roger, this is what Wikipedia says:

        “After a fermentation period, the polysaccharide is precipitated from a growth medium with isopropyl alcohol, dried, and ground into a fine powder. Later, it is added to a liquid medium to form the gum.”

      • Isopropyl alcohol is used to remove the oxygen from the element, thus preserving the shelf life, this is called esterification. This produces an element that can be dried and last virtually forever. but the body cannot react to the element since there is no oxygen to produce a reaction. As a result with the use of zanthan gum it appears to draw large amounts of H2O from the body, to bind with the oxygen, and cause diarrhea, along with electrolyte imbalances, for children this can be deadly. For adults with fluid balance problems, hypertension, or cardiac disease this can also be deadly. Esterification is used in the production of all fat soluble commercial vitamins.
        I am a Research RN of 40 years, look for my new book “You Are What You Eat” Human body Function in Relation to Food. And Read Your Labels.

  52. Xanthan gum gives me terrible abdominal cramps, diarrhea, bloating and gas for three days after consuming even small amounts.

    My daughter is now in the hospital after eating food that had only small amounts of it. Her colon swelled to a very large size (she has a colostomy and part of her colon would come out into her bag each day.) After eating the food with the xanthan gum, it got so big that it popped off her colostomy pouch.

    Why do I think xanthan gum is the culprit? A couple years ago, my daughter was in the hospital for gastrointestinal issues. She had been vomiting for three days straight and her intestines shut down. After about a week on IVs, things started moving again and she was going to get to go home in another day. The doctor decided to add thickener to her juice. She took one sip and wouldn’t drink any more. I also took a sip to see what it was that made her not want any more. Nasty feel and taste. I flushed the remainder down the toilet. That night was the worst I’ve ever seen her. She cried and signed stop, stop, stop…no, no, no, and swelled up to the point that I didn’t know how she could stand it. She writhed around in the bed, almost yanking out the IV tubes still in her. It was horrendous to watch. I was having my own problems, having to go to the toilet with explosive diarrhea and having painful stomach cramps. I had these for three days. The doctor agreed to have the nurse put a nasal gastric tube back down my daughter’s throat and they sucked out a large amount of green slime. Finally at 6 in the morning, she calmed down and was able to sleep after suffering the whole night.

    As awful as that experience was, I learned that xanthan gum is a big problem for us. I later found an article online that described others who have had similar trouble. For those with gastro troubles, I would encourage you to stay away from this additive.

    • Hi Amy:
      I stumbled upon this site to read about Xanthan Gum and I found your comment about you and your daughter. It was tough to read. I am not a doctor but since young adulthood, I have struggled with intestinal issues – not super bad but whether it was bloating, gas, yeast infections or pain – it always tied back to intestinal flora. I have been to many doctors and read much on the subject. It seems that over the years, our society’s diet has been leaning toward refined and sugared up carbohydrates. We have trashed our intestinal flora.
      As well, my best friends son had the exact symptoms that you described with your daughter. Absolute excruciating intestinal pain and his intestinal walls would overlap and they opted for surgery. Then last year, my Mother in Law was hospitalized for extreme intestinal illness and she described it the same way that you did in that her intestines “just shut down.”
      So, my point for mentioning all this is first to relate and identify with you but to also encourage you to learn EVERYTHING you can about intestinal health because at the end of the day, all of my symptoms, my friend’s son’s symptoms as well as my Mother in Law’s symptoms, all had to do with diet and intestinal flora – even my yeast infections and yeast sensitivities had to do with intestinal flora. For starters, get yourself and your daughter the best strains of probiotics. Not the ones you get at regular grocery stores! Go to Jimbos, Whole Foods or Henry’s or a place like that. Only get the kind in the refrigerator sections because they are live cultures. Then switch stains from time to time. It sounds like your intestines have lost the ability to defend themselves. Anyway, I hope that helps and I wish for you and your daughter to recover and oh, stay away from sugar and refined carbohydrates! God Bless 🙂

      • Thanks for the reply. I’m thankful to some degree to know we are not the only ones with intestinal struggles, though It’s sad anyone should have to experience this.

        I believe that oral antibiotics have been accomplices with less than optimum foods and additives in causing the harm we are seeing. Shots didn’t affect the gut the way oral antibiotics do. Big use of oral antibiotics began at about the same time as “New and Improved” food did. As a kid, I was thrilled when science allowed me to swallow my medicine instead of getting a needle. Now, I’d love to see a many year study comparing groups who get injections from birth versus those who get theirs orally.

        For many years I’ve been learning all I can absorb about gut health, healthy eating, yeast, intestinal bacteria and on and on. With the changes I’ve made, we should be SO healthy! Instead, we seem to have become more reactive to the bad things. Probiotics (refrigerated and in the billions of cells), organic food, whole food, pasture raised eggs and meat, drinking good water vs. sugary drinks, cooking homemade from scratch, etc. have us on the right road, but once compromised, it seems the gut is difficult to repair.

        Twice I was given clindamycin and both times it took off all my skin on the outside and I thought I was dying on the inside. Had the hospital where I received it (and Levaquin and large doses of Tylenol) taken greater notice of the effects, I might never have taken it again. It wasn’t until 14 years later and after only four days of taking it, that I realized I had Stevens-Johnson syndrome. What this antibiotic does to me on the outside, it also does to some degree on the inside. Perhaps this is why xanthan gum is so hard on me now.

        A more recent episode with cafeteria prepared food has me realizing this is even more serious than I previously thought. I ate a chicken salad sandwich after asking about the ingredients and thinking it was pretty safe. It wasn’t too much later that night that I knew it had xanthan gum in it. The bloating was so bad that my heart didn’t have enough room to do its job and I began experiencing heart attack-like symptoms. Pain in my chest and pain in my upper arms. I was keeping my daughter company in the hospital and never thought to have them take my blood pressure. No one was too concerned when I mentioned how I was feeling. ( If I’d ended up on the floor, at least I was where I could get quicker care.) The pain eventually worked its way down the intestinal tract and after three days of hurting, burping, acid reflux, farting, and diarrhea, I began to feel better. Now I’m even more someone who reads all the ingredients labels. My daughter and I might be in the minority in the herd, but we are the majority at home. We’re voting with our dollars and time for real food without additives.

      • I used to use Jarrodophulus probiotics for years, always buying them because the “refrigerated kind” were supposed to be better. I cpould never see ant real difference in my digestion while taking them. About a year ago, I switched to a brand called “PB8” that needs no refrigeration. I take two with breakfast and two at bedtime. If I have some gastrointestinal upset, I take two every few hours. I can see an actual difference taking them whereas I didn’t with the former brand. For me, any digestive upset clears up far more rapidly using PB8. Who would have thought? Apparently, some probiotics do not need refrigeration to work well.

  53. I believe I’ve consumed products in the past that have contained either carrageenan or xanthan gum and wasn’t bothered physically…last night I drank a rice drink containing xanthan gum and had severe abdominal cramping right after…I was perfectly fine before I had that drink and there was no other ingredients in the product that I thought would have caused it.

  54. Hi great information I am reading. Just wondering whether anyone has had problems with gerd or heartburn, reflux when having anything with xanthan gum in it? Thinking this may be my problem?

    • Possibly? I’m trying to narrow down some of my symptoms, and recently I’ve noticed I get heartburn and also kind of a caustic feeling in the mouth from my usual salsa, but not from snack foods with spicy-salty powders that are almost identical in ingredients. The xanthan gum is kind of the only culprit left, so I guess I’m going to start exploring that. It seems this is pretty uncommon, though, so I was glad to hear someone else saying it, just so I know I’m not crazy to have this thought. 🙂

    • Yes, and also when I eat starchy or sugary things. Anything that feeds overgrown bacteria or yeast allows them to produce above normal amounts of gas which pushes acids up where they don’t belong. Lot of gas can be a very strong force against valves that don’t ordinarily let acidic liquids pass.

  55. I have been wondering what ingredient in certain brands of gluten-free bread still gives me terrible gas. So I ate about 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum several days ago, and by the next day I was stinking up my office so bad I had to leave work for the day. I wasn’t having pain, just nauseatingly foul flatus. Culprit identified.

  56. I’ve discovered another hiding place for xanthan gum! I noticed my joints were achy &wondered what I had eaten to hurt me. I had made tuna salad using mayo (because salad dressing has xanthan gum) & pickle relish instead of chopping up pickles. When I went grocery shopping, I was reading the ingredients of various relish brands, because some dill relishes are cabbage instead of pickles. Suddenly I saw it! ALL the relishes had xanthan gum! Ouch!

    I hadn’t made tuna salad for a few months, so when I did make & eat it, with the relish included, and suddenly am in pain, I know it was the xanthan gum.

    • Maybe an alternative for you to use instead of mayo is to just use plain greek yogurt which is thick and add some pickle juice to the desired consistency and perhaps spices.

      • The mayo is fine. It’s the relish that was a problem. I was using as a shortcut, due to fatigue from Hashimoto’s & years of undiagnosed Celiac damage.

        Now I’ll be back to chopping my own pickles or using the rare relish that has no xanthan gum (if I can find any).

        I’m so tired that cooking is not the joy it used to be. Pair that with so many foods being off limits for me, I often just go hungry, or eat half a can of beans & some plain tuna.

    • I have an allergy that no traditional test was able to detect for my entire life and once I found out what it was it completely changed my life. My allergy was diagnosed -finally!- by an integrative doctor who used ART (autonomic response testing). This is the kind of test that you may find people who don’t know what it is; people who will be skeptical; and then people like me who simply had an amazing experience with it and that is why I am sharing this info with you. Hope this is helpful!

  57. Excellent information, I’m currently researching what food additives to use in salad dressings and dips and have been reading all about Xanthan Gum. It’s literally the best there is.

    Sure some people are going to have issues with it but these people are in a very small minority, they make a lot of noise but in the grand scheme of things they’re irrelevant.

    Xanthan is in almost everything these days, it’s just so stable, especially when compared with other bonding agents.

    It’s the best there is !

      • Rude and insensitive, Xanthan gum is intolerable for many people and they (we) are very relevant. If Xanthan was that amazing chances are this site would not be so popular or relivent. But it is because Xanthan isn’t what you or others say it is. It is a filler/thickener used (more often then is necessary) to help stop separation of other ingredients, because people are too lazy to quickly shake, remix or mix it themselves before consumption. It is derived from many known allergens e.g. Corn, wheat, dairy and soy, and if you have a condition simular to mine none of those are an option. Since it’s nearly impossible to know or find out which version Xanthan is used its best to stay away all together for those who suffer from those food allergies. Bottom line it is overused and unnecessary in many of the supposed healthy food items on the market

        • Why would that comment be rude somehow. Honestly, there are people allergic to even water out there. Are they the majority? No. There’s not one ingredient or chemical or raw material where you can say no one has an allergy to it. Whether it’s the food industry or cosmetics industry (xanthan gum in shampoo) most manufacturers with morals use ingredients that are generally considered very safe. I saw a food store the other day that had banned xanthan gum. Now, fair enough if this is food you are talking about and your customers have tons of allergies. However, many ingredients (xanthan gum included) do nothing to those customers when used in a shampoo topically for instance. They aren’t eating it. I always go back to when people with gluten intolerance started freaking out about wheat protein in hair conditioner… it’s an isolate of wheat. There is ZERO gluten in wheat protein used in a conditioner. So in our case we had to switched to rice protein. Honestly, it doesn’t make a difference to the customer in the end (there’s no allergic reaction to the wheat protein) except the price goes up as rice protein is more expensive. Tons of debate now with the big rise in allergies in people. Now they are telling us to eat peanut butter so our children don’t have an allergy, etc. Science always changes. I get that, but sometimes we are freaking out about nothing. Back to cosmetics, many ingredients when added to a cosmetic blend into the formula, they react with the other ingredients. Simply reading an MSDS as a consumer – you could say this or that ingredient is not safe at 100% concentration on your skin. Well, water isn’t safe at 100% on your skin over a certain time of exposure. If you aren’t a chemist basically you can’t make conclusions from MSDS, etc. A lot of ingredients have been misaligned over the last decade due to consumer-written scare articles that don’t follow the science. It took us a few years to find a replacement preservative for organic grapefruit seed extract (supposedly adulterated with benzylkonium chloride). A couple years ago EWG poopoo’d Ashland’s suttocide-A preservative saying it’s a formaldehyde donor… ok, but in practice the adverse reaction reporting was zero with an associate of mine in the industry, in fact way less than phenoxyethanol that replaced parabens…. don’t get me started on preservatives I could talk all day.

    • Really! Your comment, “they’re irrelevant…” is very badly stated to say the least, and grossly insensitive at best. They are people, and anything but “irrelevant ” whether they have a sensitivity to this product or not.
      I don’t believe I have a problem with xanthan gum, but clearly a lot of people have had very severe reactions. I do not wish to gamble with my health and consume this product, and your comment that diminishes those who do is reprehensible.

    • Ignore the troll. Trolls take up your time purposefully, and share their conquests with other trolls as to what they posted, how upset people get, etc. Their actions are designed to upset the group and tie up their attention and time. Ignore, do not feed the troll.

    • Neil – where do you work? For whom do you work? I have a feeling you work for the processed food industry!!

  58. After developing severe problems consuming wheat, milk,
    soy (all those soy-based dairy alternatives were so yummy until.. :/ ), sugar alcohols (forget beans, don’t even go there!) I was astonished they finally caught up with my problems and created a cocount whip like the popular dairy whip (well it says no dairy, but still seems to have some bad ingredients anyway). Except, in the midst of some kind of bowel infection, while eating very little, I put a couple spoons in my poor little meagre rice protein drink, and felt later as if someone were inflating a basketball inside my stomach. Thank goodness I was finally able to begin to belch..so here I am, learning about these thickeners that I have been so good at ignoring while eating my wheat free, milk free, soy-free bread, cookies, deserts, etc.. Both guar gum and xanthan gum were in the coconut whip. But I sure was enjoying it while it lasted! (No rest for the wicked, I guess). Eating mostly liquids to rest my bowels, I think it caused a quick reaction, due to the cleansing effect of mostly drinking my meals, and that knowledge is bound to be helpful down the road, so thank you for this. All these comments are amazing, to be sure.

    • Look into and maybe try Agar-agar, it seems to be the only additive that is safe for me. My issue is very similar to yours as Gluten protein or similar (oats), all dairy and all beans (legumes) in any form are bad (food poisoning) a reaction which takes my system up to 48 hours to recover from.

    • Look for coconut milk that does not have additives added to it. You are more likely to find it in coconut cream than coconut milk. If you put it in the fridge it will separate to solid coconut cream at the top and coconut water at the bottom. You can use the coconut cream at the top in any way you would use cream; you will just need to let it soften first. It has a melting point of about 76 degrees, so it is solid in the fridge. If you have a high speed blender you can also make it yourself in the blender by whipping flaked, unsweetened coconut. I think I read that 7 cups of flaked coconut makes about 2 cups of coconut cream. I have been looking into it a lot because I am allergic to dairy

  59. Has anyone else found that Xantham Gum/Guar Gum contains caffeine? I am highly intolerant of caffeine and if I eat anything with Xantham Gum or Guar Gum in it, then I’m awake all night!!

    • I doubt xanthan has caffiene, but I’ll be sleepless for days after ingesting it. Restless legs and extreme agitation are 2 ways it attacks me. It attacks the nervous system.

    • Xanthan gum contains FREE GLUTAMATE, an excitotoxin that can cause insomnia, hyperexcitability, racing heart (tachycardia), pounding heart (palpitations), migraines, visual disturbances, destruction of pancreatic beta cells, gout, tinnitus and many, many other symptoms!

  60. Well, well. I just found this discussion. I went to the pantry to see what’s in the containers of “Coconut Dream” fake milk (that my family consumes, as I don’t care for the taste).

    It conains FOUR – 4 – thickeners: Carageenan, Gellan, Xanthan and Guar gums.

    Thanks for nothing, Dream company. There’s virtually no nutrition in this “milk” in any case. It’s basically white, fatty water. We can’t get unpasteurized milk here, so don’t as a rule consume cow’s milk.

    • Why not try almond milk? I believe it has more calcium than cow’s milk even if that’s a concern. (Of course it’s lacking in other areas of nutrition still)

      • Some brands of almond milk contain xanthan gum. At this time, Almond Silk has no xanthan gum.

        I have a hard time finding coconut milk that doesn’t contain xanthan gum.

    • If you like coconut milk or cream try “AROY-D” it’s from Thailand and its 100% coconut milk. No BS additives. The purist milk alternative Dream makes is the Rice Dream original or vitamin enriched all others contain binding agents guar, x-gum and/or carageanan. Costco’s rice milk is also made without gums or carageanan binders. There is only a couple of almond milk brands that I have found that is made without such binders and they are manufactured in Europe and are not sold here in the U.S. It’s tough but there are products out there. Cheers

    • Anything processed contain harmfull additives , i would prefer almonds to almond milk ,coconuts to coconut milk, all these foods are to be eaten in moderation.you cannot replace natural cow milk with almond milk.
      My husband realised this at a cost when he developed gaut due to the extra proteins consumed.
      Care full ewith these modern foods they sell us .go back to what your grandparents ate.

      • I think gout can be secondary to other issues, such a Celiac, gluten intolerance and thyroid disease. When primary issues are addressed, secondary issues often disappear. My Dad cuts back on wheat when his gout flares up. That works better for him than any diet normally prescribed for your.

        When my thyroid levels are good, I don’t have gout. I’ve not had any gout issues since going gluten free.

        • thanks for this info-that must be why i got gout when my thyroid levels were low. I also couldn’t hear very well & my eyes were just seeing weird.

  61. What happens when you leave xanthan out of a wheat free bread recipe? Would you notice something is different?

      • Is there a healthy alternative to xanthan gum- i want to make my own buns-I have had a lot of gas since going gluten free and the products I buy are so expensive!

        • I’m just getting into gluten free baking and I’ve read that ground flaxseed, chia seeds or psyllium husk (or any combination of these) can be substituted in equal amounts for the xanthan gum in gluten free recipes.

    • Sharon If wheat is your problem, rather than gluten as a whole, you can eat 100% rye bread, no horrid gum thickeners necessary and it won’t crumble at all. Had some fantastic bakers near my house in Japan that baked additive free all rye that I had no digestive problems with whatsoever. Anything processed on the other hand and I swell up to about 6 month pregnancy size in the space of an hour, until my skin feels like it will crack and my organs feel like they will explode.

  62. I have dealing with IBS for over 30yrs until it became intolerable. To cut a long story short, I’ve had every test possible to find out the cause of my symptoms. All negative. I had my blood tested privately and they said I was wheat intolerant. Wheat free diet has nearly sorted it but I’ve just come across this blog and now wondering it it’s the ‘Gums’ in ‘wheat-Free ‘ foods, ie bread. I’ve had a Banana Sandwich for my lunch and I’ve had bloating and pain all afternoon. Do the Gums come under any other name? I’m at the hospital tomorrow for a follow up ( the specialist is very interested to see if I am better after being wheat free). I am in general but the so called wheat free foods are making me think if it’s the gums and not wheat.

    • I’m so happy that you are fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed, there are a lot of mothers who can’t. People never think about that, they just feel that some women do and some don’t, but many don’t have that option.

    • Leslie, I would not be at all surprised if it’s the gums. In addition to the (now) life threatening allergy to xanthan, I have severe reactions to gellan and guar gums, all reactions beginning in the gut with cramps, followed by pure liquid diarrhea. After eliminating the gums, my gut functions normally and I’m feeling great, eating anything I want as long as it doesn’t contain the gums (I do choose whole, organic foods now as a result).

    • I thought maybe I was allergic to gluten (seems like everyone is) so I quit eating it. My symptoms actually got worse!! my physical therapist put my many inflamatory issues together and asked if I had ever been tested for food allergies. I really did not think I had any. I had an Immunoglobulin allergy test done where they take your blood and intoduce it into known allergins then test how much it reacts. I am allergic to corn…..guess what the main ingredient is in gluten free foods? CORN!! Its in everything! Xantham gum, and other thickeners are madde from corn so maybe there is a corn allergy there for you also??

    • It seems to be a frequent mistake of people with food intolerances like gluten or wheat to “replace” these with what are basically fake foods that inevitably contain a bunch of additives, which are by definition artificial and were never intended (by nature) for human consumption. Everything I’ve read on forums and experienced points to the additives being far worse than the originally suspected food. So my question is why even “replace”, why do you need bread when it isn’t even real bread? To me that’s kind of like trying to get drunk on non alcohol beer. So if you can’t tolerate gluten or wheat why not eat rice instead of bread? Why not eat more veggies instead of bread? That’s what I’ve been doing and I’ve been largely successful. Not only am I able to avoid gi symptoms, but I’ve also lost 2 inches at the waist, as a side effect of quitting wheat, because in the end I eat very few carbs.

      I’ve also had worse symptoms from additives than from the “usual suspects”- to my surprise I’ve even eaten even wheat bread or pasta without symptoms when they were home made and additive free. In the end I think I’m allergic to additives rather than wheat! I think doctors are often very limited in their knowledge and what they’re willing to go To the trouble of researching.

  63. I am a breastfeeding mom of a baby that’s allergic to so many different things. I have used elimination diet to control his symptoms. However I didn’t know what xanthum gum was so kept using products that had that. I noticed he would get an eczema every time I ate something with xanthum gum in it which lead to me to research and I landed on this page. Thank you so much for posting this. My breastfeeding experience has been a struggle but I am motivated. It’s people like you who makes mom’s like me even more motivated through your support

    • Xanthan was approved by the FDA in 1968, the year I was born, then in early 1970 (at 18 months old) I was diagnosed with T1 diabetes (which has NEVER been an issue for me). A great deal of research is currently being done on the “triggers” for the immune system to attack the pancrease. My doctors don’t at all doubt that xanthan contributed to my autoimmune system killing mine. So glad you are breastfeeding, and eliminating his allergens, you will both be better for it. 🙂

    • I’m so happy that you are fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed, there are a lot of mothers who can’t. People never think about that, they just feel that some women do and some don’t, but many don’t have that option.

    • Hi-

      I am also a breast feeding mom on an elimination diet to try and clear up my baby’s GI tract and eczema. I am avoiding too many foods to list here but I’ve started to think that it’s either the millet flour or the xantham Gum in the gluten free goods I buy and bake that may be causing his risidual issues (avoiding all gluten free baked goods seems to have cleared up his skin a bit but still see xantham gum in some of the dairy free alternative foods I’m eating). Curious about other moms successes or lack there of once they avoided xantham gum? Thanks!

      • Hi Tiffany, I can’t comment on the breast-feeding aspects, but I’m an adult male who’s had problems with eczema all my life. I feel for you– my parents had to deal with me as a kid with bleeding hands/elbows/face all the time; it’s got to be hard to watch your child suffer.

        For about the last 10 years, I’ve had my eczema under ~80% control, with rare flare-ups once every few months, rather than the never-ending flare-ups through my childhood and young adult years.

        I wish I’d figured this out much earlier! My secret is simple. I figured it out by accident in 2003, when my employer sent me out of town for a month on a project, separating me from my normal foods. They were paying the bills, so I ate the “better” options at each meal– steak instead of hamburgers, salad instead of fries, real juice instead of sugary pop. I noticed results in a few days (though I didn’t realize the significance for a couple of weeks).

        I’ve cut out most (as in 3/4) of the refined flours and sugars in my diet. I don’t drink sugar-sweetened drinks at all (diet drinks are OK in my book). I occasionally drink “100% juice” kinds of juice. Sugar-sweetened drinks, if I have an appreciable amount, will result in my hands itching a few hours later, and an eczema flare-up the next day.

        I rarely eat bread, as it causes itchy hands and flare-ups. Gluten-free bread is no better for me. Same goes for most white rices (though basmati seems OK). Corn seems OK. Potatoes are marginal– OK in small amounts only. Lentils and beans (including chick peas) are OK. I eat lots of lentils these days.

        I’ve been using xanthan gum regularly (morning mocha smoothies; soups and sauces) for ~8 years. I haven’t noticed any skin issues with it. Bob’s Red Mill, in case the brand is important, but that’s the only brand that stores here seem to carry.

        My suggestion for you to is to try removing wheat, sugar, and rice from your diet. It might work, it might not, but it doesn’t hurt to try.

        Good luck!

        • While I am prone to serious GI issues, few things make me swell up like a basketball and then explode in watery diarrhea the way Xanthan gum does, so I would definitely recommend trying to see if your baby gets better when you eliminate it. I honestly don’t understand people’s need to artificially thicken food at all anyway, food is so good without it. Thickeners are certainly not natural food for your baby, thus potentially harmful. Avoiding would be safer no matter.

  64. So if I want to put it in homemade shampoo to thicken it up a bit, it should be just fine? I don’t particularly want bacteria growing on my head though.

  65. I’ve recently discovered that I’m, at this point, severely (anaphylaxis) allergic to xantham gum. I started cleaning up my diet several months ago because of digestive issues and found that xanthan was a trigger for my intestines. I eliminated it; however, had no idea to check my toothpaste and was exposing myself daily. Last week we figured out the allergy through skin care products that “burned” my face so severely that my skin hasn’t completely healed after two weeks. Two days ago I used the toothpaste (not aware it could contain xanthan) and within a short time my blood pressure bottomed out, lymph nodes ballooned and I had shortness of breathe. After the episode I checked the paste and there it was! I share this to let you know that if it effects your gut (my intestinal issues persisted over 3 years and I had sinus surgery 3 years ago because they were completely closed, with no apparent explanation), that it’s only going to get worse! Please avoid it at all costs, even a small amount is now life threatening for me. As soon as my immune system recovers I am going to be VERY proactive about it being listed as an allergen. That dried bacteria is the devil and it has absolutely nothing to do with the medium upon which it’s grown.

    • Thank you Tamatha for your comment. I cannot eat gluten so end up eating more gums of different kinds since they are used to replace gluten. I find that I am even more sensitive to gums of any kind than even gluten itself. I simply cannot digest it. I know we are not alone in this. We just need to get the word out.

      • You are more than welcome, Veronica. The article was about xanthan so I didn’t mention guar, but it also effects me badly (not to the point of xanthan yet). I’ve learned that gellan is a “sister” to xanthan, so I’m avoiding it at all costs, too. Corn sugar gum and bacterial polysaccharide are two other names for xanthan. So far I’m ok with with locust bean gum. The xanthan allergy now requires me to carry an Epipin.

      • Veronica, one more thing, lol…I began using Einkorn wheat products. It is the only non-GMO wheat still in existence, and is organically grown. I have to order it online, but it’s worth it and delicious. Between the GMO wheat factor, the bleaches used on it, and all of the additives in manufactured wheat products, quite frankly, I’m scared of it. I wonder if many people’s gluten “intolerance” isn’t simply because the wheat has been so modified (celiac being a big exception). Good luck to you!

    • Have you ever tried bioset to get rid of your allergies? I went to a chiropractor who was certified in bioset and it helped me tremendously! You may have leaky gut syndrome which causes the allergies. (Where large molecules pass through your gut lining and get into your blood stream.) I had so many food allergies but doing much better and recently found supplements to heal my intestinal lining.

      • Thank you for the suggestion! I discovered in research that xanthan is not allowed in formulas for premature infants because it caused an intestinal necrosis (actually causing death), Chris also remarks in the article about infant sensitivity. Xanthan was approved by the FDA in 1968 and it was used in soy baby formula (I was put on soy as a “preventative” measure because my older brother had milk sensitivity.) It has been scientifically proven that allergies don’t occur without a degree of leaky gut. I was diagnosed as T1 diabetic at 18 months old. I know to the core of my being that xanthan is what triggered the leaky gut leading to my autoimmune disease. The xanthan sensitivity has developed into the life threatening allergy over my 47 year life span. Since eliminating xanthan, my gut has healed and I’m barely reacting to seasonal allergies, which were a major issue for years. I am blessed to have figured out the additive that was killing me (literally spent 15 days on life support in 2013 and the doctors couldn’t figure out what was causing my problems, which we now know was allergic reactions) and am genuinely concerned for for the millions of people with health issues who may simply be reacting to to one of the thousands of unnecessary additives to our food. Our bodies were, and are not, designed to process “additives” taken out of context (xanthan-dehydrated bacteria) by chemists, in order to mass produce food products, or get us “addicted” (chemically recreated MSG) to the products being created my a soul-less monster, the processed food industry. As long as I eat whole/organic food, my body continues to heal and I hope, in the next few years, to become healthy (other than diabetes) for the first time in my entire life. I’m very thankful for having distinct time lines on my health history and to have been able to connect the dots through the technology available today. 47 years of numerous “unexplainable” health issues were all explained with the discovery of the, now life threatening, xanthan allergy. I wish you all the best, Ms Sandra, and pray you continue to heal.

    • i make my own toothpast from coconut oil and bicarb powder. it dont taste that great .. but it cleans yr teeth super. and kills bacteria that cause candida.. ( gum disease )

  66. I had 2 out of 3 babies premature and they all had severe acid reflux. My first was born two months premature and had acid reflux so bad that it caused her to turn blue and lifeless during feedings.

    Then I discovered xantham gum for my second child.

    This article is really good! I’m not surprised xantham gum makes you poop because it’s a fermented product. I used it to thicken my kids breast milk.

    I wish I knew about it when I was thickening my first baby’s milk with rice cereal. Xantham is virtually calorie free
    It also made my kids have regular poops too.

    The infants to get sick were preemies in the NICU, and they could have gotten nec just from being preemies, with immature digestion.
    They said I shouldn’t use it in my babies milk because of this but I still did it because it was the best choice.

    Like any fermented product, even lactobacillus can cause gas and bloating if you use too much at first. Bacteria has to colonize in the gut. Then your body accepts it better.

    I’ve used Xantham gum as a thickener for when I make home made coconut milk. I also use it for gravy-who wants flour or extra starch if you can avoid it? I want to get my nutrients from food not thickeners.

    When using it as a thickener you have to stick blend it or it will just form balls of gel. It also can have a slimy feeling if you use too much of it.

    If I have the blessing of having another child, I will use this thickener again. I’ll choose the bobs mill brand, as I would like to avoid gmo corn.

  67. I am grateful that I am an extremely healthy 66 year old man who does not suffer from allergies. My sympathies to those of you who do. my late wife suffered with a great many allergies. Though I can eat almost anything, there are a few things I refuse to put in my body: MSG and all of its aliases (autolyzed yeast, natural flavor, etc.), carrageenan, HFC (high fructose corn syrup), soy protein, and any artificial sweeteners. These all have toxic effects on the human body and no one should consume them. I also avoid some foods such as wheat and gluten because they have been linked with Alzheimer’s according to Dr. Perlmutter. I still love pirogis, gluten or no, but am researching a way to make them without wheat flour. I will be glad to experiment with xanthan gum in my recipes. I doubt my system will react to it. To some of the people who’ve experienced digestive upsets from it, I would like to point out that gut flora do not adjust immediately to a substance that the body is not used to. Suddenly consuming a high concentration of something one is not used to Is apt to produce a reaction, but to conclude that you could never again consume that substance without reacting to it discounts the ability of your gut flora to adjust, as the research in the experiment mentioned in this blog revealed. I once thought that I could never eat beans, but now consume them very little problem. The main thing is to avoid all those processed “foods”. I like Tillamook’s current commercial regarding American cheese: “It’s not American and it’s not cheese!”

    • Here is a recipe for you to try.. I have not but I do make a lot of recipes with garbanzo flour and rice flours. Hope you enjoy.

      Gluten Free & Vegan Perogies

      •1 cup sorghum flour
      •1 cup chana (chickpea) flour
      •½ cup tapioca starch
      •½ cup corn starch
      •2 teaspoons xanthan gum
      •¼ teaspoon salt
      •2 cups vegan sour cream*
      •4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
      •¼ cup unsweetened plain almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
      •½ teaspoon salt
      •2 onions, diced finely
      •½ cup vegan margarine

      1.Sift all dry ingredients together.
      2.Add sour cream. Mix well.
      3.Knead on floured surface for 2-3 minutes. Place in a bowl. Cover with a damp towel and let rest while preparing filling.
      4.Boil potatoes until tender. Mash.
      5.Meanwhile, heat margarine in a skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion. Saute until onion is softened.
      6.Add onions to the mashed potato. Add almond milk and salt.
      7.Stir well to combine. Let cool slightly so you can handle it.
      8.Place plastic wrap on your work surface.
      9.Lightly flour the plastic wrap with rice flour.
      10.Cut rested dough into six portions.
      11.Take one portion and dust lightly with flour.
      12.Flour a rolling pin and roll out dough to about ⅛”. (You can leave the dough a bit thicker and roll out each individual circle a bit before filling.)
      13.Using a glass or cookie cutter, cut out circles from the dough.
      14.Place about a teaspoon of filling in the center of the circle.
      15.Fold over and pinch the edges together to seal. Use a little bit of water to help seal if needed.
      16.Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out.
      17.Bring a pot of water to boil. Reduce heat to medium and just a boil (not a violent rolling boil or the perogies might break open).
      18.Gently place a few perogies at a time in the boiling water.
      19.Let them cook until they start to float, and then about 3 minutes after that (about 5-7 minutes total).
      20.You can eat them like this or fry them in a bit of vegan margarine and fried onions until they are brown on both sides.

      WordPress Recipe Plugin by EasyRecipe

  68. I was googling the difference between 2 companies Meal Replacement Shakes and stumbled on a YouTube video talking about GMO VS non GMO products and allergies associated with Xanthan Gum.. In reading this string of comments I am so discouraged. The Meal Replacement and Muscle Builder that I love the flavor and consistency so much I found does use Xanthan Gum…
    I have been using this product for about a month now, not everyday…I did have stomach bloating and felt that I was gaining weight instead of losing but I attributed it to possible muscle gain as it weighs more than fat… yesterday I only had the shake before work in the morning. Sitting at my desk at work my right shoulder and arm started itching like crazy…I couldn’t stop scratching it, it almost had a burning sensation then my shins started to itch…. it lasted for a good 2 hours..and I couldn’t figure it out? I thought geez am I dehydrated and my skin it that dry? I am sitting here reading about all the allergies associated with this ingredient and one being itchiness and sure enough discouraged that YES it is in my shake…. I am reluctantly going to try it again this morning and if I start the itching and redness, I guess I will have my answer.. Thanks for all the posts!

    • I used a new sauce for asparagus and it was good, mostly lemon and a couple different oils. Within thirty minutes my back was itchy, then my arms and it quickly spread all over. with little bumps. I took two Benedryl and hope my throat wouldn’t swell. A couple hours later it subsided. After rechecking the ingredients on the sauce packet the one I wasn’t familiar with was xanthan, the others were common that I have eaten. Xanthan had to be the cause. I tossed the asparagus and the sauce, and I will avoid this in the future. I still have marks on my back from scratching the hell out of it.

  69. I am gluten intolerant. I started the gluten free diet about a year ago. It took me a while but I found out that when I ate anything with Xanthan gum in it, it caused me symptoms as bad as if I ate wheat. It caused severe stomach pain and a range of other symptoms.

    Also, for anyone who has tested negative to the coeliac blood test, there is another test that can be indicative of gluten intolerance which most Doctors don’t seem to know about.

    If you do the blood test for IgA and that is absent or barely detectable and you are deficient and if it is less than 50% and not associated with an infection, the risk of coeliac disease starts to rise. Low levels of IgA are indicative of coeliac disease. DGP (Deamidated Gliadin Peptide) IgA antibodies should be used to detect coeliac disease. I don’t think they have the correct comprehensive blood test for coeliac yet. But I do believe that the ‘coeliac’ test they have is faulty! So if you test negative, it doesn’t mean you aren’t allergic to wheat.

    Hopefully that helps someone!

  70. My friend made some bread using xanthum gum which tried yesterday and within minutes my stomach was so bloated. Had lots of foul gas and pain. This morning I have a really bad headache and dry mouth. I could drink a river dry.

  71. Well I figured out tonight for sure that my gut doesn’t like xanthan gum! This is the second time I have included it in my baking, and it gives me tons of foul gas! Yuk!!! Not using it again that’s for sure! I will try the gelatin too.

    • I am gluten intolerance and I just make a cake mix as cookies. A few minutes after eating a little portion of a cookie I began gassing out, my stomach was bloating and felt stomach dis-adjustments. I searched for the bug ingredients and there was an unknown ingredient, the Xanthan-gum. This is a disappointing finding. Guys be careful with the titles: Organic-gluten-Free bugs. It is deceitful including a element that is known to be harmful to those with digestive problems.

    • This is exactly what it does to me. I only narrowed it down to xantham gum a month ago. Kept thinking I had been glutened without realising. I now avoid it like the plague but notice 90% of gluten free products contain it so now even more limited to what I can eat

  72. I complained to my doctor about having gas and bloating which was uncomfortable and at times I had severe cramping. I was tested for celiac, and the test came back negative. So he suggested I go “wheat” free and I have been wheat free for about 1 yr. I recently started making my own bread and of course Xanthan gum is always in the ingredients. I also noticed all bread recipes have I different amounts of Xanthan gum. I recently had a severe reaction after making a loaf of bread using a new recipe. Now I understand why I have reactions to some “gluten free” products.

  73. I have been using xanthan gum (NOW brand) for several months to thicken my smoothies. I love the end result but I have noticed that I am experiencing increasing measures of bloating. I am very uncomfortable with the bloating. My container of xanthan gum is about gone so I was about to re-order when it occurred to me that I should check to see if there are side effects to it. Wow…I came across this webpage and I think maybe I have found the cause of my bloating!! I thought it was food intolerance related but couldn’t figure out the cause. I will remove xanthan gum for a week or more and see what happens:)

    • Sometimes smoothies on their own can cause bloating…the stomach is used to the chewing of foods before it receives food. With a smoothie, there’s no “warning” to the stomach that something is coming it’s way. Try eating a few nuts with the smoothie and see if that helps.

    • u can add small amount coiled potato to yr smoothies to thicken them. if u can .. that is waht mcdonalds do so im told

  74. Xanthan gum is an emulsifier. A recent study showed that other emulsifiers had a significant effect on colitis:

    “Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome”


    The study was not done on xanthan gum specifically, but it makes me wonder if other emulsifiers like XG could have a significant effect on inflammatory bowel disease. Something for people with IBD to consider. As far as I know, no study has been done on XG and IBD. I would like to hear if anyone knows of any study in that area.

  75. I am highly sensitive to gluten (2 week recovery), dairy (5 day recovery), and apparently also xanthan gum and guar gum. Thankfully once the “gums” are out of my system I feel fine again, but when I have even a little of it, I feel like I have sharp rocks in my intestines! Horribly, horribly constipated.

    I recently discovered that just about every commercially available salad dressing has xanthan gum as an ingredient, and most coconut milk (with the exception of some imported varieties) contains guar gum. I’m learning, slowly…. Love the gelatin idea! 🙂

    • Dear Sarah, It was nice to see that I was not the only one that has suffered with horrible constipation. I have been gluten & dairy free for almost 4 years and was still having issues. I just found out about xanthan & guar gum and since I stopped having any of the gums 2 weeks ago and I am seeing a difference. I have gone through 9 surgeries in the past 5 years from all these severe sensitivities. I hope I have had my last.

  76. I apparently have a strong allergy to xanthan gum, which gives me strong esophageal spasms (my esophagus strongly cramps). I’ve had this since I was a child and never knew what it was – by one day eliminating xanthan gum, poof all my pain went away. I am not allergic to gluten or really any other food that I am aware of. But if I eat anything with xanthan gum, I’m in pain fairly instantly for up to 10 hours. My chest often tightens too and I even can have trouble swallowing. My allergy seems to be very rare but just thought I’d mention it in case anyone else has this issue.

    • I have had spasms like that after I became intolerant to soy, sesame, any added vitamin B including Thiamin, Folic acid and anything related to that as well as gluten. Gluten also impacts on my digestive system overall. I tested negative to celiac disease. I also get massive migraines in response to red wine and oranges.

    • Thank you all for sharing your experiences. I am Mia’s mummy and since birth Mia has been very poorly – initial diagnosis was cow’s Milk Protein Allergy, non IgE, since then we’ve followed a number of exclusion diets and seen the best clinicians in the UK. Then I stubbled across a thought – when I made cupcakes with egg replacement and gluten free flour, my poor little girl would almost instantly go to the toilet and in such an awful way and completely loose her ‘bubbles’. What you’ve described as your symptoms are those I feared my baby, now toddler was experiencing.
      I’m doing a stack of research and will now avoid Guar and Xanthan gum and i’m looking into rapeseed/canula oil, as well as a few E numbers (additives)
      Would love any thoughts you can share

      • Hi Mias Mummy, I’m also from the U.K, at hospital as I type, our son is 14 now, has multiple food allergies and only just discovered, Guar guar gum is in pain relief…so please check ingredients of capol!! XG is also in medication such as antibiotics….

  77. I am a healthy 72 year old female and was diagnosed August 2012 with chronic lymphocitic leukemia .
    I have bee on a very strict alkeline diet and lifestyle change , doing well with an apparent chryoglobenimia
    spending the winter in KeyLargo Florida living on my tiny sailboat: 24\7 fresh air and little stress if I can keep it away:) easier here then in Manhattan NYC!
    I would like to use Xanthan Gum the thicken my hot almond milk cinnamon milk shakes made in the Nutri Bullet. Had a few evening drinks already since even in Florida we experience cooler than usual temperatures.
    I am concerned about sugar forming (?) Qualities of Xanthan gum in the intestines/digestion?
    Looking forward to share more great ways to make a somewhat restricted diet more pleasant because I will stay stable/functional=healthy inspite off the ,incurability of my health glitch!
    Thank you all
    Marlis Momber, photographer/captain

    • Dear Marlis,
      Sounds wonderful – you are doing a great thing to take care of yourself in this way. We all deserve it and it’s the best thing for our health.
      I would recommend you use real grass fed gelatin in your shake, and it gels up very very well when mixed in warm liquid. You don’t need to add much.
      Unless you want to make a mousse out of it, which sometimes I do with my shakes – I will use my vanilla shake (metagenix, or mediclear), add cacao powder, a teaspoon of gelatin dissolved in warm water and blend for 30 seconds, and in one minute it gels into a chocolate mousse!
      The gelatin is much healthier for you and does the job. Gelatin heals the stomach, is great for digestion, and therefore better for immunity.

  78. Wow! We really feel duped. My husband is an organic farmer and is very passionate about sharing his healthy eating habits with others. So, his customers at his market have been persistent about him launching a youtube channel to share his vegetable and whole food recipes and nutritional facts. Recently, he launched a Youtube channel – Mark Lui – EatLikeHippocrates and also has a Facebook page – Eatlikehippocrates. Because our niece suffers with stomach problems, her physician suggested she try a gluten-free diet. Her favorite breakfast is pancakes. This lead to my husband’s pursuit to create a high nutrient pancake recipe for her to include old grains like buckwheat, teff, sorghum, almond flours…. although a very small amount, he did include xanthan gum for texture. Because this ingredient is included in organic foods, we made the poor assumption this ingredient was safe. Whole Food stores and products we trusted are using this ingredient in many products!!!! To name a few…Bob’s Red Mill, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Vitacost.com…. We are pretty ticked!! We dumped our xanthan gum and our currently working to update this recipe.

    • I commend you and your husband for your efforts to grow food organically to help people live a healthier life through food. I currently use “Namaste pancake mix” to me it is the best tasting and contains no xanthan gum, guar gum nor any other of my allergens. It is the only one I’ve found that is both delicious and healthy for people like me. Perhaps your husband my figure out a recipe that is just as or more delicious then “Namaste”, when that day comes I look forward to giving it a taste. Cheers!!

      • Thank you Masao & Lisa B.!! We’ll look that up. We were planning to try a batch this weekend with arrowroot…and hadn’t heard about gelatin – thanks so much! We’ll give that a try too. The combination of the high-nutrient teff, sorghum, buckwheat & almond flour is actually quite nice. We try to maximize nutrients/calorie in recipes. If we can get the texture right with a substitute for xanthan gum, we’ll share the recipe on the Youtube channel and Facebook page: eatlikehippocrates! Once again, thank you both for your comments and suggestions : )

        • I also avoid XG as I know that it is mostly GMO as it’s often derived from corn. I know that chia seeds are often replacement of XG if you grind it into power form. I don’t think you need any of it, and just mixing those wonderful gluten free flours can make great pancakes, but I thought I’d pass this info.

    • Try adding Gelatin!
      I am completely grain free, and don’t tolerate all these gums and thickeners very well. I have played around with all the grain free recipes and found great success with adding 1-2 or even 3 tablespoons of gelatin (2 or 3 tablespoons for an almond flour pie crust for example, or a pan of cookie bars I made also with almond and hazelnut flour) and it turns out chewy and delicious but most importantly, DOES NOT have negative effects on the gut – in fact it has beneficial effects! So if she’s not on a vegan diet, try gelatin and no more worries 🙂 GOOD LUCK!

        • Maria, while i’ve never used xanthan gum in baking, I don’t know exactly the part for part replacement however, for a pan of 16 cookies, I used 3 tablespoons of gelatin. If i wanted to make a chocolate or berry mousse for 4 (2 cups of mousse) I would use 1 tablespoon of gelatin. This is very healthy for the stomach, great for healing the gut, great for feeling full as well, and don’t forget to use a grass fed source = you are getting a healthy product from a healthy animal.

  79. I did some conversions, based upon the test cases mentioned above of 10-15 grams of xanthan gum daily.

    I use xanthan gum in gluten free recipes, smoothies, and other recipes I use. I actually use about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp whenever I use it. Very little goes a LONG way.

    That comes up to about 1.2 grams… 1/10th of what was used in these tests. And I don’t even use it daily. I’ve been very happy using xanthan. I buy in bulk from Winco in Salt Lake City. It is pretty pricey.. but I use about 1 cup per year, so it really is inexpensive per use.

    I’m glad I read this article and did some further research and calculations. I won’t worry about my use. Thanks for posting this article.

  80. Hi!
    I’m very thankful for you to write this article! I believe in not using xanthan gum. I believe in creating recipes by using ingredients from your great grandmothers cupboards. I produce 3 products: Relish the Harvest gourmet products.
    Please feel free to visit my website and share with your followers: http://www.relishtheharvest.com
    I also posted your article on my Facebook page: Relish the Harvest
    Thank you!

  81. thank you for this web page …after I have taken Genestra Cal Mag with xanthan gum and i have so much gas & bloating …ny tummy swells up like I am 9 months pregnant so this is obviously the cause … if I refrain from having the Cal Mag I am OK ..thanks for your help

  82. I am 68 years old and am going to start following an eating regime in order to lose weight. I have some recipes that call for 1/4 tsp. of xanthan gum. After reading the testimonials on this, I am sure I need to go in a different direction. Is arrowroot a good substitute and how do I use it……1/4 tsp xanthan = how much arrowroot. I already have a tendency for bathroom issues and certainly don’t want to add to it. Since it is in almost everything, perhaps this has added to my issues.

  83. I am 63 years young and have been chewing gum most of my life. This last year or so I have noticed ever time after I chew a piece of gum my stomach gets sour. I have now tried just about every brand and flavor of gum out there and they all seem to do the same. I also recently read another report that gum sales has been on a decline for the last 10 + years. I feel if the gum manufacturers go back to some of the old recipes they used to use, there sales would definitely increase and there would be a lot less sour stomachs.

    • Have you tried Xylitol gum? It tastes great and many books say it is good for teeth too. Just be sure to check the label as some do have guar/xantham gum. I bought it a week ago, I have not used it yet and I am unsure whether to use it myself. It is definitely challenging to eat gluten/wheat and soy free, especially when it comes to baking! Good luck.

    • Good evening Fred B. I think you are on the right track with going back to what was used to make chewing gum 60+ years past and some. . . I tell folks who are stifled with all of the ingredients that bite back when used in our foods, to go create your own version/substance. . Use bulk ingredients as God has made them; not man. If there is a will, there is a way. . Good hunting. . Who knows, you might start up a new-old gum that doesn’t chew U UP!!. . Carry on. . jpakdc

  84. Thank you for all your comments and some of the additional information. I have felt very frustrated and alone. I was diagnosed with Leaky gut 1 1/2 years ago. My naturopath put me on a strict elimination/rotation diet. It is as one of you mentioned, difficult to eat out ANYWHERE or trust any processed food. This has made an impact on my social life in terms of enjoying going to restaurants. If I visit friends I bring along my own meal in a tiffin (a multi-tier stainless steel container with lid). I just made a Christmas dinner for friends and they loved it. I secluded my portion from theirs so I could use seasonings in their that I’m not allowed. One of my intentions in this New Year is to learn to bake without gluten, dairy, sugar, and I do not want to us xanthum gum. I understand this is a crucial ingredient for elasticity. Chris seems to say baking cannot be done successfully without xanthum. Can anyone suggest another option? What about guar gum or arrowroot?? I don’t want to use gelatin (an animal product). I’m not an experienced baker so I imagine there will be lots of trial and error. I’m determined to make this happen. I’m grateful to find a link for ‘Wellness Mama’ and her coconut milk recipe. Full fat coconut milk was suggest to add weight back on that I lost but the cans are lined with BPA……another problem!! Our food has become so contaminated. Best to stick with the real deal and get back to cooking at home and enjoying fresh whole organic food like our ancestors had.

    • You can certainly bake without xanthum gum-I do it all the time with wonderful results. I have to say thought that I have not mastered a bread that works for sandwiches. I use a combo of millet flour, sweet rice flour(made from a more sticky rice), fine almond meal, arrowroot and tapioca flour. I have had guests tell me my chocolate brownies, carrot cake, lemon bars, muffins and so on are much better than conventional stuff. many people use ground flax seed as a binder. Native Forest is a brand of coconut milk that has BPA free cans and it is organic. herbs such as plantain and marshmallow will help to heal your gut much faster than diet alone. Once you are more healed you will be able to eat a wider diet so you have something to look forward to–good luck!

    • Also, you can find good quality gelatin from free range animals. If you are trying to heal your gut there is no way you can follow a vegan diet–sorry it just won’t work. Bone broths and animal protein are crucial for health. Of course look for local small farmers who raise their animals in a healthy way–factory farm animals are not good for anybody

      • Well said! Vegans have their heart in the right place. I was one but scewed up my health and gut and had to go on gaps anyway and learned I could do exactly what you said: get grass fed ethically raised and killed animals. The best choice. Full of good vitamins and omega3, and not inflammatory. YouTube. Video the vegetarian myth with Lierre Keith. Brilliant.

        • You can get animal protein from ethically raised animals without killing them. Concentrated, cold processed, non-denatured whey is incredibly healing and healthy. Many people have milk issues and can take enzymes to help. And many are reacting to the homogenizing precess which cuts up the longer fat chains into abnormal, irregularly length ones to stay dissolved in the rest of the milk.

          Also, eggs are good to without killing the chickens,

          • The egg and milk industries both require the killing of animals; there is no getting around it. Old hens, excess roosters, boy dairy calves, and old milking cows all must be put down. But if you look into it, the raising of huge monocultures of plants also results in animal deaths and there is even evidence that plants have a kind of awareness and possibly feel stress and pain. Death is a part of life, just try to support industries that raise animals humanely and treat the environment with respect. There is no way to avoid death.

      • I would have to strongly disagree, I have started following a vegan diet with few grains and my proctits cleared in a week. Meat even if it is organic etc is well known to aggravate bowel and digestive disorders. This was advice I recieved from my GI Doctor. I feel sorry for anyone who takes your advice as everyone is different and I am pretty certain googling info does not make a degree.

    • Careful with tapioca flour. It spikes blood sugar even higher than sugar and white flour.
      A good option for baking and pancakes is to add bean flour to coconut flour and a bit of almond flour.

      • I have not noticed any problem with tapioca in regards to blood sugar at least combined with other flours–I would not use it alone. I personally do not eat bean flours as they are too difficult to digest –cause bloating and IBS for me (and GERD for my husband). You could just use arrowroot though instead of tapioca if it is a problem. I use these baked goods only for special occasion anyway–I would not recommend eating them frequently! But it is nice to have something to eat for birthdays and holidays. I made chocolate brownies and Snowball cookies for Christmas dinner and everyone liked them–even the most stubborn unhealthy eaters! I made pumpkin pie and my daughter made apple pie for Thanksgiving dinner with our gluten free crusts–everyone loved those also!
        On the vegan subject–I was a Macrobiotic vegan for several years and though I learned a lot from my Macro teachers –especially an appreciation of a large variety of vegetables inc seaweed, it was not good for me long term. Avoiding all gluten grains and reducing other grains has helped a lot along with adding high quality animal protein. My gut problems were likely due to long term antibiotics I was on as a child along with the typical 60’s diet of white sugar and flour! And I could not have healed without my herbs!

        • Debra, After reading your comment on bean flours and bloating I wondered if you have heard about SIBO. IT’s an acrynim for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth which is thought to be the cause of IBSEN and many intestinal issues like bloating. There is a diet for it; FODMAP, that addresses the foods that the bacteria feeds on. You can google it for more info. I found it to be very helpful, life changing! Also, there is a specific antibiotic that you can take that will not effect the rest of your body, you would need to see a gastroenterologist for the breath test to confirm the diagnosis. I, too, was on antibiotics for many years for Lyme disease (2times) and it is hard to recover from that but the SIBO diagnosis really helped address the problem along with high levels of probiotics.

    • Louie, earthclinic.com and jeni patel thompson’s sites have good info. I understand L-Glutamine & George’s aloe vera juice are good to heal leaky gut. Best of luck.

    • Xantham gum is not crucial. There are awesome alternatives.
      Adding gelatin (see above) adding psyllium husk, chia seed… I”m sure there are more!
      Never despair, there are so so so many options out there that I haven’t yet discovered myself. The right option for you is out there 🙂

        • So….
          I mentioned using psyllium the other day. I knew it was a good filler I just didn’t realize how awful it tastes until I added it to my usual grain free pancakes I make for myself. It tastes like mushrooms gone bad. It’s really not a good idea for pancakes, taste wise. Very healthy, helpful for making the mix stick together but I will stick to adding gelatin. Just wanted to report back.

    • I believe Trader Joe’s Lite Coconut Milk cans are BPA free and there are no additives, just water and coconut milk.

  85. My son is very allergic to xanthan gum. We thought it was a gluten allergy but the blisters worsened with gluten free foods. Through further allergy testing he is very allergic to certain bacteria and xanthan gum in food toothpaste etc.. Has a skin blistering effect on him. He has an epi pen jr as it is life threatening to him.

    • An excellent substitute for all gums is organic India whole psyllium husks. I have been using it for many months since I have been experimenting with gluten free breads. The flakes do better then the powder in bread recipes.

      I can not have any gums also I get a very dangerous side effects.

    • Can he have dairy products? If so check out Nancy’s Cream Cheese – you can get it in health food stores in my area. It comes in a little round plastic conttainer. Xanthan Gum is one of the names on the Hidden (free) MSG list. It’s not outright MSG like you see on Ranch Salad Dressings, but it is an altered ‘food’/ingredient, taken apart from it’s natural source & processed which ‘frees’ the naturally occurring MSG that was in the original source – like pea protein or tomato protein that were taken out of veggies, or citric acid which is derived from corn (again, taken out of it’s natural state the way God made it and put into processed food). All Citric Acid is from corn unless stated otherwise – check your vitamins… I’ve only found one source of vit C made by Twinlab & it states it is corn free. Anyway, I thought I’d mention it – check out the lists online of Hidden MSG. Sounds like something that would be good to avoid. There are many, many people of all ages reacting to this stuff no matter what the research says. I can literally change my dad’s whole aggressive personality & what I thought were ‘tics’ & quirks of old age…. I can change his entire personality for the better by taking all hidden MSG out of his diet… I should say most hidden MSG because he stillwants to occasionally use things like Worchester Sauce & other things I haven’t found a replacement for. There are about 30 names that MSG hides under. Best thing is like you’re doing – make your own stuff. By the way I have not found any canned / boxed chicken broth that does not contain hidden MSG … and that is what tipped me off the most as far as ‘there is something wrong we are eating’ because I noticed changes in him. So, I hope that’s helpful in some way to anyone who reads this. Might want to check out Carrageenan Allergy Awareness as well. That’s a huge MSG trigger for us. I originally thought I was allergic to all sorts of foods until I saw the list of ingredients of hidden MSG & then it all became clear. Hang in there. You can do it. There are also probably Facebook pages dedicated to MSG & hidden MSG & Carrageenan & Xanthan Gum… who knows how many separate pages there are. Might provide some support for you. .

      • your post was very helpful – makes so much sense – also when you said “frees” the product and “out of nature” that really reminds me of how Sally Fallon Morell always talks about food that is “denatured” – it puts it more into perspective to understand how these modified ingredients can really play tricks on our sense of logic, to put our sense of rationality into the grey zone so we can say, oh well, it’s not THAT bad, is it?

        Another thing I think about sometimes – why is it that the elders of a native tribe (eating their native foods) are so wise, calm, stately, rational and the culmination of the best of his life, while the north american seniors are all grumpy old men (and women) with cynical attitudes, on their way to senility, alzheimers, and walking around with oxygen tanks?

  86. I wanted to thank you for the information you provided regarding xanthan gum. I am starting a wheat-free diet, and the all-purpose “flour” recipe I have calls for xanthan gum (along with almond meal and coconut flour). It is helpful to know that studies have shown nothing remarkable about ingesting xanthan gum.

  87. During the last year, though research on the Internet, I have
    concluded that Xanthan Gum has been a problem to my system for a long period of time. Just recently, I have been trying to go Gluten Free and eating gluten free oatmeal and bread for sandwiches at lunch. Within a week of eating these foods, I developed an irregular heart beat. That is when I started the research and found that Xanthan Gum is in most of the gluten free foods. Seeing how long xanthan gum has been put in foods (salad dressings, ice cream, etc) it now makes sense to me what has caused my digestive disorders.
    When I quit the gluten free products, my irregular heart beat wen back to normal. I now try and avoid xanthan gum in my foods.

    • During what could have been a life threatening event, what did your Dr and /or emergency room technicians feel about xanthan gum and its possible roll in your symptoms? Have they weighed in with any thoughts or diagnosis after this event, especially considering that xanthan gums are so commonly found in foods for regular diets also?

    • oats are not gluten free.. regardless of what they say, it is one molecule off of being gluten and is a subspecies of wheat. Oatmeal will tear you up if yo’re allergic to gluten

    • Interesting… thank you for sharing! I’ve been noticing after I have a gluten free item, my heart starts racing too. Have a lot of food to return!

  88. I recently learnt that I have either a mild allergy or an intolerance to either carrageenan or xanthan gum (or both!) it is specifically triggered by asdas home brand vanilla milkshake and seeing as I’m not lactose intolerant it must be one of those two things that makes me best friends with the toilet :0

    Oh well at least I know of a fast acting laxative when I need it!!

    … But damn that milkshake tastes so good… XD

  89. Earlier this year, as a result of getting a lot of flak from their consumers, So Delicious agreed to eliminate carrageenan from their unsweetened coconut milk. Uh-oh, I thought. I’m not a happy camper with additives in a product at ALL (even the so-called nutritious ones), so I was wary as to what they’d come up with as a substitute. Here’s a list of what’s in it now: “Ingredients: organic coconut milk (water, organic coconut cream), calcium phosphate, magnesium phosphate, guar gum, xanthan gum, vitamin A acetate, vitamin D2, L-selenomethonine (selenium), zinc oxide, folic acid, vitamin B12”. Sheesh! 🙁

      • Thanks for the link, mariangain. I’m not sure what a nut milk bag is, but I’ll definitely check into it.

        I know what a nutbag is, though….I just have to look in the mirror. 😉

        • kitsy, nothing wrong with being a nutbag. It’s better than ‘normal’. Your local health store may carry the nutmilk bag. I saw one on Amazon but was able to find it locally, so can’t attest to the quality.
          Best of health!

    • I have an intolerance to Guar and Xanthan Gum. It took me ages to identify the cause of my problem as it is not yet very well documented. My symptoms are excessive bloating within half an hour of consumption. It is painful as my abdomen swells in that time to the size it was when I was 4 months pregnant. I burp loudly and constantly for a several hours as the gas builds and erupts. Eventually the gas escapes from the other end of my digestive tract as well. I am unable to do anything much for the next few hours until it subsides, leaving me exhausted. It takes a couple of days for me to fully recover.
      These products are used in so many things:
      Ice cream
      Bread glaze
      Many gluten free products

      My daughter also suffers – she was investigated for irritable bowel syndrome and bowel blockages before we identified the problem.

      • Hello Helen, I have the same problem with Guar gum & Xanthan Gum. I unfortunately have the same issue with Dairy (All), Gluten and All Beans (legumes) of any kind including ingredients derived from and also honey from those plants. Guar gum is from Guar bean and Xanthan is derived from any one of my allergens. This digestive issue is tough to live with and can often make social gatherings that include eating often awkward. Now after 3 1/2 yrs of Dr visits, seeing specialist & learning nutrition, I am able to go weeks without any episodes of intestinal illness. I do not eat anything that contains those ingredients or may contain those ingredients. You should also look at your toothpaste, there are only 2 I’ve found that do not use XG. Arm &’Hammer is one Advance white Stain Defense. If you love ice cream you can make my own using pure Coconut milk and organic confectioners sugar with organic pure vanilla extract and add any fruit or natural ingredients that is safe for you to consume. No more eating at buffets (cross contamination) that got me a few times. Just to note: when I was a baby (newborn) I had this problem and I grew out of it, now at 44 it’s back and even more severe. Bottom line is read everything and if you are unsure don’t eat it… You can even call food companies and when at restaurants talk to the manager or the chef, I have many many times.

    • Kitsy,
      Check out what companies sell organic coconut milk overseas and see what ingredients they are using. Europe is very specific on not allowing anything that is potentially harmful to humans. American Food Manufactures produce items stateside and ship across the pond that meet their standards on safety and organics. The sad reality is these same companies sell their death wish foods to Americans; the deadly double standard sellout. .

  90. I am really happy I came across your website! Thank you for explaining what Xanthum Gum is. I have been eating gluten free for awhile now but still had bloating and digestive issues. I am going to eliminate XG fromy diet and see if it helps. Thanks for the hard work you do to educate us on these topics!

  91. xanthan gum is the primary ingredient in nestles resource thicken up a VERY popular liquid thickener used for stroke patients and others having trouble with swallowing. The danger without the xanthan gum thickener is aspiration OR dehydrathin. From your article wouldn’t the use of xanthan gum take needed water from the body and put it in the gut thereby CONTRIBUTING TO dehydration??

    this would seem to be a critical and lifethreatening iussue.

    • If used as a thickening agent in drinks, sauces, and dessings I’m certain it would already be fully saturated and if anything help supply hydration much like tapioca, pectin or gelatin. It might in things like breads when the cooking process removes most of the moisture. Just my opinion, I have not seen any studies on it and I am not a food scientist.

  92. Aside from the fact science changes it’s mind about “facts” every other week, there is no denying, the sharing on this site, whether “scientific” or not, has been invaluable to many. Though I personally do NOT suffer from any of the more serious health issues brought up in this forum, I none-the-less get a picture of what is going on for many and find this informative. It’s sad that Christopher has injected such a negative spirit into these discussions, which I have found to be loving and encouraging, and amiable, all the months I’ve been receiving updated comments. I wish there was a moderator for this site which would take action to block this vitriol. It’s obvious this person is suffering ill health in mind, body and spirit and the tolerance given so far to this bad behavior has gone above and beyond necessary. It would be a shame to allow one person to wreck this helpful forum, but If it doesn’t stop, I, also will be unsubscribing. Enough of this.

  93. SERIOUSLY??? I see a lot of poor anecdotal evidence(?) in the comments about people getting the trots and getting acne or thinking that XG was in Texas Roadhouse’s butter and I just don’t believe them. I think that they are BSing themselves. NOT SCIENCE. And they are just spreading rumours.

    The amount to substitute in a gluten free bread loaf is about 1/4 tsp. And when you think about how much that means in a meal it is incredibly small. The studies sited by Kresser used very large amounts (comparatively) and still found few issues and they were minor. I also doubt that Xanthan gum is even used in products found in chain restaurants as it is very expensive! PLUS, if you are eating at these chain restaurants I think you better look to other areas for the problem. There would be plenty of other culprits other than Xanthan gum, that’s for sure!

    My two cents.

    • Christopher, Xanthan gum is in ALL salad dressings, Wendy’s chili & Frosty, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, most cottage cheeses, most canned soups, many ice creams and 99% of packaged, gluten free baked goods & baking mixes. You pontificate much from very little knowledge.

      The anecdotal material you speak of is based on these people’s personal suffering. If I eat anything with xanthan gum, my temperature shoots up to 101, my face flushes beet red and I ache from head to toe. My tummy swells and my eyes get extremely puffy. I have learned this through trial and elimination, which is how my doctors instruct me to identify my food triggers besides gluten. This takes extreme diligence & sacrifice on my part & has meant giving up almost any food I didn’t cook personally. I pay a heavy price daily for my improving health, but the price of not doing so is far, far more.

      I hope you never have to know how this feels, but being judged and condemned is part of the price we pay to live. I do hope you learn compassion and the importance of doing a little research before instructing others.

      • I think that the anecdotal evidence here is more in line with a rare, individual, food sensitivity that is the result of already having a leaky gut, NOT EVIDENCE of an innate issue with the item in question. And certainly not science!

        Example… people with overall poor diets where the gut has already become compromised may become sensitive to milk proteins and sugars.

        The SCIENTIFIC studies that Chris has referred to show that Xanthan Gum is safe overall. It is a polysaccharide, NOT poisonous antinutrient.

        It is NOT something that the average person should be up in arms about… no more so than milk!

        On top of that, I still say that a LOT of people BS themselves with POOR anecdotal analysis.


          • I didn’t realize I was posting anonymousl . Christopher, nor do I wish to condemn. I was responding to your condemnation. This conversation is populated by people who have Celiac & other food sensitivities, not the general, healthy population. We LIVE being condemned & misunderstood. These dialogs help us to consider possible triggers. I never even heard of Xanthan gum before reading a comment on a board like this. I was trying to pinpoint my trigger & was still suffering, even incapacitated. I wasn’t faking that 102° fever. I figured out rice flour hurt me, but still needed further help. Once I eliminated all foods containing Xanthan gum I spent fewer days in bed, crying in pain. I don’t LIKE avoiding all packaged gluten free breads & cookies. I miss being able to put cream of mushroom soup in a casserole. I hate not being able to eat Wendy’s chili when my guys go for fast food or eat gluten free pizza. It’s HARD. Sometimes when I don’t feel like cooking I open a can of beans & that’s my dinner. But I LIKE being pain free & actually sleeping instead of constant insomnia night after night.

            If my name doesn’t show up, I’m Robyn Bray. Feel free to Google me.

            • Hi Robyn: I cook for a 15 year that has celiac and is also has EoE – an auto-immune disease that is triggered by a number of foods. Have you ever been diagnosed with EoE. How do you find your sources for ‘clean’ products and good manufacturing processes. I am trying to expand the boy’s pantry of products and am having a lot of problems eliminating cross-contamination the manufacturing process. Any leads you may have are really appreciated.

              • Patricia, I buy Bob’s Red Mill gluten free oats & oat flour. I also eat their gluten free buckwheat hot cereal. I order from SwansonsVitamins.com.

                I make my own cakes, muffins & cookies using oat flour & adding a pack of unflavored gelatin per cup of flour to add moisture & make it hold together. I just follow a normal recipe, adding the gelatin & perhaps an extra egg. These cakes are incredibly moist & stay moist for days!

                I don’t know much about EoE or cross reactive. I have identified my own personal triggers.

                Do you have a Pinterest account? That was most helpful for me on learning to expand my culinary world while eating gluten free.

                You can’t just find ways to substitute for the foods everyone else eats. Most “substitutes are inferior and contain xanthan gum. You have to start from scratch & learn from ABC, like learning a new language or culture.
                Friwnd me on FB & Pinterest & I’ll try to help you make helpful connections. My name is Robyn Bray. My FB profile picture is currently a pink rose.

            • Thank you. If I eat xanthan gum in any amount I can look forward to a severe migraine headache, vomiting and prayers for death. It took me several thousands of dollars in doctor bills before I figured out the culprit through careful documentation of what I ate. It is in toothpaste.

              The stuff is poison to me.

        • Hello Christopher
          In response to your comments, I would just like to say that although there may not be any so called scientific evidence to suggest that Xanthan Gum is poisonous or detrimental to humans. I can only speak from experience. I suffer with leaky gut and also SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth) and I reacted really badly to Xanthan Gum when I ate a coconut dessert with it in. An hour after I ate it, I was in a lot of pain, bloated terribly and had awful wind so I will not be having this again.

          I am not a person who has an overall poor diet but over my considerable lifetime I have been prescribed antibiotics, HRT and other medications which has caused my gut to become compromised and I am now sensitive to milk proteins and sugars plus many other food substances which I am in continual research to find how best to heal the problem.

          I am glad that you appear to be in good health and I hope that you never have to go through the same problems that I and many others have to suffer.


          • Good Gawd, people don’t listen!

            I am not saying that some individuals don’t have an issue with Xanthan Gum. I AM saying that the vast population does not have a problem with it and so it is NOT something that should be vilified! The same way milk should not be vilified or removed from grocery store shelves simply because SOME people THINK that they have an issue with Xanthan Gum specifically.

            Xanthan Gum is one of the safer substitutes for gluten to make a respectable sandwich bread. If YOU have a problem with Xanthan Gum, fine, stay away from it.

            But I hear very unscientific things from people people here.

            • Christopher. do you criticize people who have cancer discussing which foods make them most nauseated during chemo?

              We are NOT the general population. Nobody who doesn’t suffer a bad reaction to Xanthan gum will give it up due to our anecdotal sharing. It’s hard to even get really sick people to request testing for Celiac. I know I drug my feet long enough, but I wouldn’t even know about Celiac had it not been for unscientific dialogs like this. Still, I resisted. I was too sick to face the effort required to change. I had to end up practically bedridden to decide to request testing for Celiac.

              Your protests make me wonder if you’re in denial, or living with a Celiac who is struggling against your condemnation. I hope not.

              Be well.


              • Your cancer comment is ludicrous and insulting and shows you for who you are!

                Although some COMMENTERS may have specific allergy and autoimmune issues, this blog is READ by the larger Paleo population and an UNSCIENTIFIC comment like “Xanthan Gum gives me acne” without any breakdown of their diet and any specific reason why they come to that conclusion, is not scientific, not helpful and simply confuses people who come here for the larger picture of ancestral eating and reasonable functional analysis.

                Keep your psychological musings to yourself! Your own need to attack someone who is simply trying to stick to science shows your own emotional shortcomings.

                • Dear Christopher,

                  I am not happy with the way you talk to people in your posts, you sound very arrogant and angry with anyone who has a different understanding to you. I have decided that I do not want to be part of this group any longer and will unsubscribe. Nothing I or anyone else will be able to change your attitude to those who are suffering with ill health.

                  I wish you all the best and hope that you will start to be more empathetic with those less fortunate than yourself.

                • Even if your points make sense, even if you were 100% correct, you are receiving friction. Could it be the way you’re speaking to people or how you make the demand that others don’t share their opinions is not gaining you any favour among anyone here? Great orators and debaters aren’t great solely because of the validity of their arguments, it had more to do with delivery.
                  If your goal is getting your point across, you would accomplish that better by rethinking your delivery; perhaps you didn’t realize it but you’re coming across as hostile. Perhaps try again and test that suggestion to see if people are more willing to have a dialectic with you; you seem quite intelligent, I’m sure you would succeed with a different approach.

              • Robyn

                I have decided to unsubscribe as I am not happy to read the comments Christopher is making.
                I wish you all the best in searching for answers to your ill health

                • Please reconsider your decision. This forum is made better by mature and polite commenters. There’s no need for you to leave and take personally what someone else has said, who doesn’t know you. you have nothing to be ashamed of, you don’t need to leave. What will become of this forum if all the good contributors leave?

                • Here’s what I think happened…

                  I think a lot of people decided to gang up on me when I did not agree with their non-scientific analysis.

                  I think that people projected their tone of voice on my messages.

                  I said “BSing themselves”. I don’t see the issue with that when that is what I think that they were doing. They certainly were not being scientific.

                  The vitriol was not from me. Frustration, yes, and I showed it. Vitriol came from people who made snarky comments like, “Christopher. do you criticize people who have cancer discussing which foods make them most nauseated during chemo?”

                  THAT was vitriol!

                  Considering that my brother is actually dying of terminal brain cancer I’d like to have a one-on-one with this Robyn person!

                  Lisa B. You are the most reasonable person who has responded here. And, yes, I do understand delivery. I can actually be a very good orator. But actually, I simply did not have patience for people who are not being scientific and if they wish to leave in a huff, I’m quite happy with that. The internet absolutely needs less off the cuff demonization of… whatever the case may be… and more thoughtful, unbiased, scientific thought and commentary.

                  That is all I ask.


                • I understand why you are leaving but hate to see you go.

                  Chris Kessler specifically asked for our experiences with Xanthan gum. I’m sure overwhelming anecdotal accounts prompt further research on such issues.

                  The only way we can prompt such research is to take the heat & speak up. Still, we do have to set boundaries after we do our bit, don’t we? Otherwise we burn out!

            • Wow. I’m new here, but everything I’ve read from Christopher so far (and this discussion caught my attention!) seems perfectly reasonable until he got annoyed by so many people jumping on him. It seems reasonably clear that at this moment in science xanthan gum is safe for most people. We all understand that some of us have sensitivities and allergies that range from mild to extremely severe to just about anything and everything – including xanthan gum. A cucumber might be fine for most people and cause a dire reaction in another. Can we all be ok with that?

        • Thanks Amanda

          I have been doing this and making progress, it is a long haul!

          Thanks for the link, I will look at it later

      • I’m celiac and react to traces of xanthan gum as if it was gluten. The only cottage cheese that doesn’t have xanthan gum is “Daisy” brand and the only safe ice cream is “Hagen Daz”. Rudy’s and Udi’s gluten free bakery products are all contaminated with the damn gums as are all salad dressings.
        My fridge is packed full of olive oil, wine vinegars, Daisy brand cottage cheese, and the gluten free/gum free varieties of Hagen Daz. 😉

        • There is a salad dressing that is made by Bragg Live Food Products, Santa Barbara CA 93102 The name:
          Organic Braggberry Fat Free Dressing & Marinade.
          Ingredients: Blueberry, Raspberry, Acai, Goji, Grape And Organic Apple Cider Vinegar.
          One can know which allergies you are dealing with if they check the Inmunoglobulin E and Inmunoglobulin G in your blood. The test most of the time is ordered by an allergist.

      • Amen (and I’m not religious)! After a year with on and off doubling over pain, doctors not able to identify the cause, etc., people via websites like this have helped me tremendously. People who don’t understand haven’t the slightest clue of: 1) what others go through when they can’t eat/loose significant weight, 2) emotional fear – wondering if you’re dying, 3) the amount of out of pocket money we spend BEFORE high deductibles after doctors have given up on us and the amount of m oney we spend with acupuncturists, naturalpaths, holistic healers, Entero Labs, etc., who have actually helped me to identify the problem. I’m hungry, cranky, want to get my life back, my weight back and feel healthy again. However, I become more cranky at others who haven’t the slightest idea that sites like this help individuals more than hinder. Walk in our shoes and let’s see just how you’ll reach for the slightest anything to help get back on track.

    • Hey guys, there is a substitute for XANTHAN gum. It is guar gum, it is not the same. Unlike xanthan gum, it is derived from the guar bean. It is also noticeably cheaper. So I hope I helped. (Ü) <= smiley face.

    • Thanks for all the posts…Through process of elimination I would have to say that xanthum gum causes a Consistent stubborn flare up of rosacea on my cheeks excessive gas and these nasty little red pimples.. I’ve been able to track this as I’ve recently swapped to a gluten free diet and checking the labels on all my packages and my protein shake it is present… I have no science knowledge but I have a lot of heartache from having to live with these symptoms. So im changing my diet again through the posts that I have read about this nasty additive and I will re-post in a couple of weeks with outcome.

      • I found cutting out xanthan gum helped with the persistant gas situation but the angry red pimples I was getting was from the whey protein isolate/yoghurt as were my only intake of dairy. I have now abolished all dairy and added 4 tablespoons of coconut oil to my daily regime now, and im left with a functioning digestive system again and no red pimples and. I’ve changed to a pea and brown rice protein isolate and am awaiting to see the out come

  94. Thanks for the information you’ve posted Chris. I found this very interesting to read and it’s great to see you’ve cited a number of studies. I’ve been Gluten free for over a year now and haven’t actually used xanthan gum in my cooking before but have seen it included in many recipes (particularly bread). Anything I find difficult to pronounce or sounds like a chemical I try to avoid – and this included this gum. I had previously researched natural substitutes for xanthan gum and like some other readers have posted, have used flaxseeds quite successfully. I soak them I’m water over night and they form a thick gel which I’ve used when making bread and it’s turned out quite well. I did however buy some xanthan gum today as I’m keen to test it out and see how my pizza’s bases that I’m making tomorrow night turn out.

  95. After reading about the different gums and how they can affect some people I came to the conclusion that I too might have issues digesting these items. I have been off any products with gum in the ingredients and I am starting to feel better. Does anyone know how long it takes for the gum items to get out of your system? I think I might have digestive damage due to the long use of the items and want to estimate how long it might be before my body gets back to normal.

    • Hi Becca, Everyone is different, so estimating recovery is impossible. Depends also, on your commitment to an adjusted diet that eliminates all possible irritants, or triggers to your GI tract. SCD and paleo diet have helped me recover. Adding, L-Glutamine (derived from beets) to assist in healing ,has been a substantial milestone in my recovery. Getting All processed food out of the diet was also important as ingredients below a certain percentage don’t show up on the bag, or box. And if the problem persists, consider a possible, bacterial, parasitic, or viral cause. Good luck on your healing journey.

  96. I have IBS and am trying to add more foods into my diet and been advised use FODMAP foods and am not sure if xanthin gum would cause me a problem being a polysaccharide as my bowel seems to take on a lot of fluid especially in the evenings as I bloat a lot.

    I decided to try a new product called Coyo yoghurt which contains xanthin gum and I have felt really lousy today and stomach unsettled so I am not sure if I want to try the other pot so I will have to leave it for a week and get my bowel back to normal before trying it again.

    I would appreciate any feedback

    • Hi Elizabeth, I had problems with CoYo because it’s fermented and contains histamine, so it upset my stomach. If you have histamine issues this may be a problem.

      • Thanks for the information, I am not sure if I have histamine issues but I know I have problems with fermented vegetables!


    • I have IBS –I stay away from all additives–carrageen, xanthum gum, MSG, etc., also all gluten grains. I had to eliminate all dairy for awhile but now can tolerate some fermented dairy such as plain yogurt, kefir and sour cream–plain with no additives or sugar is best. There are a few brands without additives or you can make your own for the best! Also mucaliginic herbs such as plantain and marshmallow, an help to heal your gut.

  97. Thank you Frances for your post of Nov 2013. I too am a canary. I can not tolerate most food additives at all. Gums like Xanthan are just laxatives as far as I’m concerned. And I don’t need laxatives. So are any of the alcohol sugars like sorbitol, mannitol, erythritol, xylitol and the like. These things are not necessary for good food. Flax seed is a good honest thickener so it Chia Seed. Did you see the article in the New York Times about the thickener SimplyThick? Xanthan gum in disguise. It was printed Feb 4, 2013. Warning Too Late for Some Babies. I don’t know if I can copy an excerpt from that article and post it here or not. Here goes:
    Six weeks after Jack Mahoney was born prematurely on Feb. 3, 2011, the neonatal staff at WakeMed Hospital in Raleigh, N.C., noticed that his heart rate slowed slightly when he ate. They figured he was having difficulty feeding, and they added a thickener to help.

    When Jack was discharged, his parents were given the thickener, SimplyThick, to mix into his formula. Two weeks later, Jack was back in the hospital, with a swollen belly and in inconsolable pain. By then, most of his small intestine had stopped working. He died soon after, at 66 days old.

    A month later, the Food and Drug Administration issued a caution that SimplyThick should not be fed to premature infants because it may cause necrotizing enterocolitis, or NEC, a life-threatening condition that damages intestinal tissue.

    Catherine Saint Louis speaks about using SimplyThick in premature infants.

    Experts do not know how the product may be linked to the condition, but Jack is not the only child to die after receiving SimplyThick. An F.D.A. investigation of 84 cases, published in The Journal of Pediatrics in 2012, found a “distinct illness pattern” in 22 instances that suggested a possible link between SimplyThick and NEC. Seven deaths were cited; 14 infants required surgery.”

    Innocent food additives? Think again.

  98. Ah thanks for this! I am doing an elimination diet and decided to make my own gluten free bread using Xanthan Gum, because I am eating quit strictly I couldn’t understand why I felt so ill last night and today, especially when I ate the bread. I wondered if it could of been the gum, so I googled it and came to this article.

    Agggh every time I think I am taking one step forward I seem to take one step back.

    • If used as a thickening agent in drinks, sauces, and dessings I’m certain it would already be fully saturated and if anything help supply hydration much like tapioca, pectin or gelatin. It might in things like breads when the cooking process removes most of the moisture. Just my opinion, I have not seen any studies on it and I am not a food scientist.

  99. Holy GAWD – I have severe food allergies and after a bad Celiac response to a new gluten-free pizza dough I tried I had an insanely bad reaction. I checked out the label and Xantham Gum was the only ingredient on the list that I did not recognize. So I Googled it up and there this article was. This is SUCH SUCH a huge help to me and my health. Thank you!!!

  100. Robyn Bray. If you want to try what was probably the original gourmet cheese from which cream cheese evolved as the processed version, you can try St. Andre or Explorateur. Of course, they are 2-4 times the price but if you can afford it, they are the Mercedes of cream cheese. (I don’t personally have a problem with xanthan gum and find it useful but I am sure there would be another French revolution if somebody tried to put xanthan gum in those).

  101. Kraft has suddenly added Xanthan gum to the original Philadelphia Cream Cheese, cottage cheese & Cool Whip. It’s also in most other brands of cottage cheese, sour cream & cream cheese. Be sure to read the labels of products you’ve been safe with previously because it’s showing up in products I have been enjoying previously. I will truly miss cream cheese!

    Daisy cottage cheese & sour cream are still Xanthan free.

  102. Hello, I am posting on all G.F blogs that I can about Bobs Red Mill xanthem gum. Their xanthem gum is derived from a wheat source and makes my celiac family violently ill. I have tried to contact them to please change this. Even if we stay away from it, unsuspecting well doers who want to make something nice for my family have used Bobs xanthem gum, thinking it is safe, and my family gets violently ill. I have done experiments on my family using other brands derived from other sources with no problems. Please help me in contacting Bobs to help all sensitive celiacs. Thank you

  103. If I get xanthum gum in any food, I suffer with severe headaches for a couple of days. When they first started I was using a well known diet food, which uses it to thicken the food. I had every test under the sun and finally I realised the it was each time I went back on the diet food they would start again. I now steer well clear of it now and read all labels.

  104. I recently went gf about a month ago. I was told I most likely have celiac, which I’m getting tested for tomorrow. I’ve been learning how to bake gf and haven’t had any issues…. I have used xanthan gum (Bob’s Red) and I’m actually ok…. but every single time I eat Canyon Bakehouse bread, I feel horrible. I get horribly bloated, stomach cramps, loose stools and I feel very run down. I haven’t baked my own breads yet, but I want to give it a try and see if it’s all xanthan gum or what. Now, I have used the Bisquick mix, no issues. Bobs pancake mix made me feel gross after eating it. So I am not sure what it is going on, but I’m not eating store bought gf bread anymore. :/

  105. I will weigh in with the folk who have problems with xanthan gum. After I went gluten free about a year ago, I started trying gluten free baking mixes and breads only to find that I had far worse reactions to the gums than I did gluten, the symptoms being searing stomach pains, bloating and stools so watery that I could not control them.

    Of course this stuff is in many gluten free products and is often not labelled. Beware gluten-free beers. I had a couple of bottles of Omission at a friend’s house over three weeks ago. We were sold the beer at a local specialty store where the proprietor assured us that all that had been done was to filter the gluten from the beer, but because of my severe reaction, I am positive one of the gums (most likely xanthan) was added in for body or texture or something. I am only beginning to get my gut back to normal. Of course, beer not being food does not have to be labelled as stringently. Buyer beware and all that.

  106. Well this article cleared up my issue that happens EVERY TIME I eat gluten free bread. Never buying that stuff again.

  107. Oh YES! I’ve had reactions-every time I eat the stuff.
    Six years ago, I had the whole too many antibiotics, trashed gut bacteria, got really sick, and had to eliminate a ton of stuff from my diet. I am the “allergenic” type and have always had sensitivities to dairy, eggs, wheat (all grasses) etc…so when I got really sick, I deleted all the things I knew I was sensitive too, I got an iGg test and deleted some more things (pecans, cranberries, celery, amaranth)…Needless to say I ate a lot of chicken and potatoes til I got better.
    Six years later I’m far better, but there are still things I can’t eat-or DON’T eat because I get reactions. Chocolate causes a rash on the sides of my chin, corn and wheat make my ears itch and tubes swell up, butter or milk cause my back to itch-tiny bumps, and XANTHAN GUM makes my eyes dry out and get red, every time!
    I’m guessing that what I’m coming in contact with has been fed either corn syrup, cane sugar (a grass) or wheat products…
    It ticks me off because that creepy stuff is in EVERYTHING! I actually do better to put an egg and a banana in baked items but it still leaves a lot of processed “health foods” that I can’t eat.
    So yes, I’d definitely say people with gut issues or food allergies/sensitivities should stay away from it.

  108. I react to xanthan gum in the same way I react to gluten, or possibly worse. Whenever I get achy in every joint, feverish, a red rash on my cheeks, foggy brained, tearful & start confusing words, I start sleuthing & EVERY time, I find xanthan gum. I’ve found it in most brands of sour cream & cottage cheese, all salad dressings, Wendy’s chili, & almost every so-called “gluten free” bread or baking mix on the market.

    Diagnosed with Celiac at age 50, I immediately went strictly gluten free. I got better, but still had weekly distressing flare ups. After 6 months, I made the xanthan gum connection. Now my accidental expoaures are only occasional, but have caused me to go without sleep for days, have a major car wreck & other distressing episodes.

  109. Yesterday I ate my first gluten-free bread sandwich and after the third bite my stomach was in pain. I was extremely gassy and had the chills. I knew it had to be the bread and sure enough when I looked up the side effects of xantham gum I was able to pinpoint my problem. The bread is going in the trash and I will be reading labels from now on so as to avoid future reaction with xantham gum. I have no desire to “train” my body to learn how to digest a bacteria that I can’t imagine our ancestors would have tolerated eating.

  110. I am very intolerant to vegetable gums and thickeners and xanthan gum was the first one that I reacted to. I can’t tolerate even a small amount of it without nasty symptoms. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons I had to give up processed food as it is in everything. Just wander down the pre-prepared sauces aisle and it’s very hard to find anything without xanthan gum in it.

  111. I’ve been eating Paleo for a while now but have been experiencing nausea, producing large amounts of wind and having an uncomfortable stomach on and off. I have done some detective work and have at long last narrowed it down to xanthan gum as the culprit. It seems to lurk in a lot of gluten free foods and quite a lot of other products too. Another reason to read labels carefully I guess .

  112. there are certain groups of people that should avoid consuming this additive. In 2011, the FDA determined that premature babies should not consume thickening products containing xanthan gum(http://www.orencn.com)because they may be linked with a life-threatening condition called necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), in which part or all of a baby’s intestinal tissue is destroyed.

  113. I can’t say for sure if Xanthan gum is responsible for my symptoms, but I suspect it is. What happens every time I try some food and experience major dizzyness and vertigo, I notice that Xanthan Gum is an ingredient. It’s happened often enough with different foods that only seem to have Xanthan Gum as the unifying ingredient that I try to avoid products containing that. However, after reading about its manufacture and what is really does regarding the intestines, what that has to do with my brain makes me wonder if the scientific studies have looked for allergic reactions that may cause symptoms in unexpected areas of the body.

  114. Hallo,

    Thank you for these series of highly educative posts. While so many studies have been conducted world over, it’s rare to find anyone writing about these additives in clear simple language: do or don’t.

    Might I ask a favor? Do you have any time to write about pectin ? Or about other chemically produced additives like distilled monoglyceride or glycerol monostearate? I am a food manufacturer and would like to understand better if my products might be harming other people. Thanks for any help you can offer.

  115. I have had issues with my digestive system and sleep disturbance for years. My diet has been radically changed and last year I noticed that coconut cream disturbed my sleep. When I dont use it, I still sleep poorly, but it definitely does pose extra problems. I was using Fair Trade Organic Coconut Milk, the only additive in it is guar gum.

  116. I am Fructose & Sorbitol Intolerant with possible Gluten Intolerance. I ate a gluten free frozen meal with xanthan gum in it and soon after I now have sharp pain & bloating in my gut. This caused me to investigate “xanthan gum”.
    Not happy about these food additives causing me pain when I thought something Gluten Free with no obvious fructons or polyols would be safe to eat.

  117. Xanthan gum is extremely harmful to me personally. I found out a couple years ago when I decided to go completely gluten free. I started eating my homemade gluten-free waffles at night. They were so good!! I started wondering why I couldn’t sleep anymore. My heart was always racing like I was running a marathon but I was just lying there. I even started sweating! The next morning I’d feel so sick! I had a fever and I would go home from work early because I was so sick!

    I did my research and it turns out the guy that posted about xanthan gum on webmd.com had the same symptoms as me–but the poor guy has it worse! So I stopped eating xanthan gum but I still couldn’t really sleep at night and in the morning I still felt sick a lot of times. This past fall I realized it was in the toothpaste I’ve been using for the past couple of years. As soon as I found toothpaste without that horrible bacteria I can sleep again!!

    Every now and then I’ll eat something and not even know it had xanthan gum until I try to go to sleep. I’ll lie there awake for hours with my heart thinking it’s running a marathon. It’s usually when my hubby takes me out to eat like Applebee’s and TGI Friday’s. The worst was Texas Road House! I think it was in the butter…

    By the way, I’m not an infant and it’s extremely harmful to me. My body thinks it’s a harmful bacteria and uses everything it has to get rid of that crap! They MUST stop putting it in food!

    • I agree–xantham gum is not good for me either but I would like to point out that Applebee’s is one of the worst places to eat because of their high use of MSG. MSG causes my heart to race, headaches, and generally feeling crappy!

    • I am so relieved to read your story. My husband has various digestive issues and for the last few nights has had your experience not being able to sleep, racing heart, being hot and cold. I was searching the web this morning to try to figure out what he’s been eating that caused this. Xanthan gum appears to be the offender! Fortunately he doesn’t need to be gluten free, so we mostly run into this gum in dairy-free sauces (the last few nights, in whipped coconut cream).

  118. Hi All. I’ve been reading a book by a nutritionist named Lynn Genet-Recitas called The Plan and it has to do with foods reacting to our individual body chemistry and causing inflammation, among other side effects like bloating, tiredness, digestive issues, sinus issues, headaches, and swelling. Xanthan Gum is something she has identified over the years of her work with clients as highly reactive for some people, meaning that for those people, it causes inflammation in the body. For some people it might not cause any issues. It all depends on your body’s chemistry. This nutritionist helps you test and recognize foods that are reactive for you. I have found Xanthan Gum doesn’t sit well with me at, although I’m not gluten-intolerant and don’t have celiac (spelling?). I do have some underlying autoimmune problems and so I think that might be why I’m sensitive to Xanthan Gum. Gosh it’s hard to find something without it these days. Just thought I’d share this bit of info.

    • Amy, although I share your concern about Xantham Gum (or Guar Gum) for the reason that it serves no nutritional value and there are some allegations about adverse effects; one has to make gluten free bread/pasta etc. not to fall apart. Gluten is deffinately out. I am no great defender of these two Gums, however I wonder how your “Health Practitioner” has identified Xantham Gum as a source of inflammation. By empirical observation? Given the fact that the studies show no evidence of this, this “Practitioner’s” observation does not sounds like meeting the standard of a Double Blind study or anything close to it; more like anecdotal observation at best. General inflammation can be “sort of” detected by a CRP test, but it does not identify the location of the inflammation, much less the source of the problem. The only method I know of that detects inflammation with any specificity (again not with 100% accuracy) is Infra Red Thermography. Imaging. Given the allegation by that industry’s experts, that over 90% of Thermography Centers are substandard; (ie. poor image sensors, poorly trained – or not trained Thermographers and Thermologists) I would be careful to jumping to conclusions, specially since it is soooo difficult to find alternatives to keep the bread falling apart. I am not trying to discredit anyone, but I would love to hear about any substantive study on Xantham/Guar Gum; as I am still somewhat on the fence with these two additives, even though I am currently using them with no observable side affects. I admit, my “observation” is also totally anecdotal, thus has zero statistical significance.

      • That is a very good point.
        I too want to offer my anecdotal experience. I have been gluten and dairy intolerant for many years but despite cutting those out, I was stick sick with weird symptoms and still had digestive trouble. I was finally told by a holistic dentist, he suspects leaky gut, and so off to google and you tube I went, and found Chris Kresser. The first thing I did was get rid of all gums, and just by doing THAT alone, (which meant I stopped eating my gluten free breads and cookies) I stopped having digestive problems – stopped! Plus, started losing weight. My conclusion, I don’t HAVE to eat bread and grains. It’s not my god given right to eat it. And our ancestors didn’t eat it either. Carbs came from whatever veggies were available. Even if you’re a creationist, sugar is still a poison. After more searching, it seems that the only good bread you could eat, if at all, is rye – natural, organic, sourdough rye, just with salt and the activator.
        Cutting out all those things that require the gums means cutting out unnecessary sugar and carbs – which only contribute to obesity, diabetes and other diseases.
        Further, I doubt our ancestors ate those gums either, in any shape or form. Why give the body more work to do, trying to assimilate things that are processed and concentrated, when it’s already so busy doing the other miracles it does every day? If that gum was naturally occurring and abundant as some leaf and just ground up, well okay, but it isn’t and isn’t included that way in the breads cookies cakes and desserts. Nut flours work wonderfully in some recipes, now THAT is a naturally occurring food that could be ground up and included. My not at all humble opinion!
        An indulgent dessert can be the whipping cream chocolate mousse that Abel James eats. Sweetened with a half a drop of stevia, if necessary, but even without it, delicious, and again, I don’t actually NEED dessert. I just don’t see why we need to defend the innocence some additive with so much anecdotal evidence to the contrary, I really do not need a study to tell me my body doesn’t like it, PERIOD. It’s time to go back to the times when our bodies are not polluted with artificial or heavily processed things, so our senses return to normal, so our neurology returns to normal, and don’t deceive us with fake cravings, when we can actually listen to our bodies and trust the messages.

        • Unless you are aboriginal, your ancestors did eat grains. However, my understanding is that they ate them in fermented or in some way altered form to make them more digestible.

          I make bread the long-raised way, where the dough rises for at least 12 hours and then when put on the table to be kneaded again, no flour is placed under it, but only oil.

          The anti-wheat, anti-bread crusade has gone too far. Unless you have an outright allergy, you don’t have to resort to artificial products containing manufactured “gums”. Try home-made sour dough or long-raised bread.

      • I’m going to take a wild guess and say that she had her hold a bottle of the stuff in her hand in an outstretched arm and pulled down on her arm to see if there was any resistance. I get really tired of hearing that type of utter nonsense.

  119. I use arrowroot flour as a substitute for xanthum gum. It can be used as a thickener and it also adds elasticity to bread. I use about 2 tablespoons per cup of non-gluten flour mix (i.e., gabanzo bean flour, rice flour, etc.) when I make flat-bread/pita pockets….delicious!

    • Hi Lois, Any chance that you might share that recipe? I prefer the fast track to successful recipes, especially with baking.

    • Why should that matter? GMO has no more effect on an organism than hybridization and you eat highly hybridized food items every single day.

  120. I found that every time I eat Canyon Bakehouse gluten free bread with xanthan gum, I get low back pressure, pain in the area of the ovaries, and hips, and loose stools. It is so painful, that I would say that it is a grossly underestimated toxin and should be avoided at all cost. I am a empathic ayurvedic naturopath and I can say that my body will tell me immediately if things are not body friendly.

    • I keep a constant feeling of cramping & pressure in my pelvic area. It gets worse if I accidentally ingest gluten or Xanthan gum. I’m reading labels like a detective because SUDDENLY, Xanthan gum had been added to my “safe” foods and I keep getting sick because I wasn’t expecting it.

  121. OK, my research and experiments are really paying off. Gums have no value at all, not even worth experimenting with. Using Flaxseed, Chia seed and Psyllium solves the problem to keep any and all my bread recepies together. I do not substitute wheat and gluten with starches; they are even worse (check the Glycemic Index) unless you have celiac. My “bread” does not taste anything as good as a great Parisian baquettes, but for me, the trade off of taste vs. optimal health is worth it – they taste good enough, specially with creative use of spices in cooking the meal itself. It boils down to individual choice. I understand that we need to watch the quantity of flaxseed; it is a source of plant based estrogen, so I mix 50-50% with chia seed. Nobody in my family has any medical issues, but in my opinion, it is best to take the best preventive lifestyle measures BEFORE it becomes an issue. It is the same as waiting to quit smoking until one gets lung cancer. That’s my two cents worth.

  122. Check out what Dr. Andrew Weil has to say about ALL the gum thickeners. His warnings, encouraged our health-oriented community to back away from anything processed, (even if labeled organic), keep it simple, begin making our own nut milks, etc. Though we are all impacted by our toxic environment, and affected by the corporate food industry attempting to deceive, we CAN control some of the negative health consequences, by taking responsibility for what we put in our mouths. For ourselves, and the next generations, we’re called to be conscious and aware. All the best to ALL of you who are holding fast to the commitment to live healthy, and encourage others to do their best.

    • Thanks flower, good words of encouragement. I am so glad I’m not the only one doing my research and reaching out for help. I tend to get discouraged as there are some people around who seem to be able to eat anything without wondering what’s in it and I feel like the crazy paranoid lady saying oh you didn’t know that was a known carcinogenic? Etc.
      It’s nice to know I’m not alone in the fight to take the responsibility out of government and into my own hands.

  123. Chris can you please address the ingredients in the BioK probiotic yogurt? I am on the Soy one as I am dairy allergic and also gluten allergic to add to my digestive problems. Trying to help myself by eating a good probiotic…
    water, evap cane juice, soy protein isolate, active l. acidoph and l. case, nute yeast, natural mango flavour, calcium citrate, pectin. Kindly please help!

  124. My daughter is coeliac and therefore been on a strict gluten free diet for the past 3 1/2 years. Almost all gluten free products especially breads contain Xanthan gum… within 6 months of being on gluten free diet she started to have digestive problems (something that ironically she didn’t have prior to her diagnosis). I’m desperately trying to find out what is the cause…consultants / doctors just say – “IBS as well as coeliac have some anti-depressants ” life is tough at the moment

    • Hi Claire, Chris must be busy, or afraid of lawsuits. Here’s an article from a psychiatrist on the overuse of anti-depressants.
      There is a theory that depression associated with celiac may be a result of malnutrition, and that nutrients like folic acid and B6 can successfully address this deficiency.
      A good clean real food diet with lots of vegetables, juicing, slippery elm for sore gut days, and a gradual re-introduction of soy free poultry,eggs, and wild fish have helped me to recover my gastrointestinal health. And exercise, whether it’s as simple as a walk, yoga, Taichi Shibashi, or a bike ride in the fresh air and sunshine will elevate one’s mood. It is possible to live without wheat and all the additives in processed food. Best wishes on your daughter’s healing journey!

      • @Claire, Heads up on the Foodsniffr organization. It is my understanding that food producers are NOT required by law to identify additives under a certain %. ANYTHING in a box, bag, can, or jar could be damaging to your daughter’s system. The tag line for this company is laughable. “Wouldn’t you like to eat a cleaner, gluten free diet – no GMO, no junk, just real food?
        How did we get to a point where we believe that anything in a box, can,or jar can be automatically deemed real food?

        • All I’ll say to that is that most of us do not live on farms, and are not self-sufficient as far as food goes. And yes, packaged food can be real and clean, such as beans, rice, grains, even snacks & meals. FoodSniffr is really not aligned with any food corporations, but it’s up to each individual whether and what they will trust or not.

    • @Claire Sorry to hear about your daughter’s issues. Doctor’s sadly do not even begin to understand food and nutrition, so they are really a poor guide to making these choices; that’s just the way medical education is structured 🙁

      I would take your daughter’s body cues to guide in making food choices – if she is reacting to xanthan gum, cut it completely out of her food. After all there are so many great gluten free foods she can enjoy without the overload of crap from GMOs, etc (did you know xanthan gum is genetically modified? that may explain all the gut issues). We created FoodSniffr (www.foodsniffr.com) exactly for people who are having some or the other food issues due to the modern food system – check the site out, we slice and dice foods along several different categories, and give you the good, the bad, the ugly for each food. FoodSniffr has a large section on Gluten Free.

      For healthy, clean gluten free recipes, check out our blog at http://www.foodsniffr.com/blog

      Do not be discouraged, certainly avoid going down the anti-depressant route – do give your family healthy and clean food, including healthy fats in moderate doses.

  125. The great dilemma when it comes to eating gluten-free! While the other ingredients in recipes can be converted to organic and Non-GMO, it seems this ingredient can’t be, and isn’t too good for you anyway. I found an alternative – use a flaxseed and chia seed mixture instead. Find it here: http://glutenfreegirl.com/2011/02/chia-seeds-and-flaxseeds/. Join us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/livehealthyliveorganic/ for updates on clean eating and more! We also have a Pinterest page with recipes and info.

  126. I am also highly allergic to xanthan gum. My last challenge of xanthan gum was 2 hours ago; I developed a skin rash within 30 minutes along with a lower back ache (this was just 3 small chick pea flour cookies that I made). I’ve had worse reactions with consuming more in the past but wasn’t positive it was the xanthan gum at the time (that’s why the test today). So it’s now permanently off my list.
    Yes, I’m allergic/intolerant to corn, wheat, all grains, rice, soy dairy etc…….a walking train wreck.

  127. Thank you so much for the article and all the great comments. We have been wondering why my husband has horrible gut reactions to some gluten free baked good and not others. We have been suspecting the various “gums” and all this information just solidifies those suspicions; so thank you!

  128. I normally don’t post on sites that I read, but thought I should here.

    It is only since the beginning of January that I have gone gluten-fee. My niece has Celiac disease and my sister is gluten sensitive. I have always thought I had problems with dairy, but have come to realize the dairy products I consumed are always with gluten products – pizza, pasta with cream sauce etc. More recently, for months now, I have been getting canker sores pop up in my mouth right after eating and I determined it was foods with gluten. At first I changed my diet to mostly fruit, veggies, eggs, meat, potatoes and rice. What I thought was bad arthritis in my knees totally disappeared and I felt great!

    I have really missed all things bread-like, though, especially when making them for my DH, who still wants regular bread, pizza, gluten-filled desserts etc. So I have tried my hand at gluten-free baking. I have found xanthan and guar gum give me worse symptoms than I have with gluten. Not cankers, but the intestinal upset, uncomfortable bloating and the runs (all day). Definitely not worth it. My teenagers, who have gone GF with me, to see if their complexions will clear up, don’t like the thought of what xanthan actually is. They are very much into natural foods as much as possible. To us, xanthan gum seems to have become the newest trend, like high fructose corn syrup, and is put in everything – even my DH’s favorite BBQ sauce, which years ago never had it in it. Trying to find things without xanthan is like trying to find actual chewing gum without all the artificial sweeteners anymore. It never used to be like that. When you bought Bubble gum, you knew it had sugar. Now it has sugar plus all the other sweeteners! Why? We buy Glee gum now if we need it for airline travel. I’ll take good old natural sugar that has been around for years rather than all this new man-made stuff.

    I also found it very interesting about that “Thicken-up” for babies. My son, 14 years ago, was born with a hole between his esophagus and trachea (trachea esophageal fistula) which was not actually found until he was 9 months old. After choking and turning blue (aspirating) and after many tests they sent him home on meds, O2, heart monitor, the works, and was told it was extreme reflux. It would take me hours to feed him. I found thickening up my breast milk helped, and as he got older thickened up everything for him, using rice cereal. I hate to think what could have happened to him if I used what hospitals are using now! Finally switched Dr’s after he still wasn’t sitting up at 9 months old and I was told the orange crystals in his diaper was from giving him juice, not from dehydration – he still coughed and sputtered anytime he drank. Two days later the new Doc had tests done, found the fistula and he had an operation. Started to thrive after the recuperating 🙂 Now he is taller than me and my DH.

    Sorry for the novel, but had to get my two-cents worth in this time. I’d sum it up by saying these new “food additives” are not necessarily better.

  129. We have a 23 and 6 preemie and after a feeding study we discovered he was secretly aspirating.our complex nutrition team has put him on “Thicken Up” it has xantham gum in it and scares the bajeezus outta me to think it may harm or possibly contribute to his death.please elaborate!!!!!should we stop all together.

    • Yes, you should stop using it! I read the NY Times article that was linked to in the article and it sounds like 7 babies have died from ingesting similar stuff! They suggested using baby rice cereal instead!

  130. Well I’m concerned about your comment on giving to infants. My toothpaste for babies has it listed as the first ingredient! I’m going to write to the company and cite you! Lucky I’ve only been using the teensyest amount for a week or so.

  131. I am highly allergic to xanthan gum. Within seconds of consuming anything containing it, the glands where my jaw meet my neck instantly swell to the size of golf balls (pain, breathing/swallowing problems, potential anaphylaxis, oh and the digestive problems too). It was nearly impossible to figure out exactly what it was I was allergic to, since it seems to be in nearly everything anymore. Needless to say I have been avoiding it ever since and have even obtained EpiPens from my doctor to be on the safe side (I travel a lot for work, just try asking a server if a certain item on the menu contains xanthan gum if you ever want to receive a blank and confused stare). There is only one, liquid, toothpaste that I can use because all the others contain it. It used to be a complete nightmare, but I have become accustomed to eating a lot healthier since I prepare all my own food now, especially things like dressings. The biggest frustration for me is the FDA allowing it to go unlabeled; since only more common allergies HAVE to be labeled but this one can often get lumped into the “other natural flavors” category. So I know I am totally a minority in this strange allergy, but my answer to this article is a resounding HARMFUL.

  132. Back when I was overly concerned about spiking glucose, I used to take xanthum gum before my morning (slow cooked) oatmeal. Never had any problems from it.

  133. I use xanthan gum when I make coconut flour baked goods, and notice a slight reaction but nothing too severe. I have far worse reactions to other foods.

  134. Have been coeliac for 20 years, and noticed the xanthan gum reaction (which often worse than the gluten) about 10 years ago. Generally try to avoid but sometimes have “treats”. My reactions are getting worse and now today are accompanied by flu-like symptoms as well. Also react quite severely to carraganeen (only noticed a couple of months ago). My whole digestive system just seems to be collapsing actually…sometimes now I don’t even know what I ate that makes me ill! Would like to go to dr – as I am really worried about the effect of sustained inflammation – but fear they will just dismiss me as a nutcase. Have had no problems with guar guar gum.

    • I also have celiac & react extremely badly to xanthan gum. Horrible headaches, joint aches, nausea, & repeated exposure will lead to a full body rash. After figuring it out I carefully removed it from my life (can be difficult since it’s in everything from paleo muffins to toothpaste). Despite this my gut seemed to be getting worse. I was questioning everything I ate. I’d seem to react to something one time but it would seem fine the next. Eventually figured out I had a histamine intolerance. Went on a strict low histamine diet & within a couple weeks I felt better than I had in ages. It’s now been about four 1/2 months & I’m able to bring a lot of foods back into my diet with no reaction at all. I know this probably isn’t your problem but it’s something to consider

      • Danyal, while everyone’s conditions can be very different, I think you raise a really good point, for Beth (and others) to consider the possibility that histamine is at play. Histamine has a very important role in inflammation. The symptoms listed on histamine intolerance websites, including Chris’ in another post , are very similar to the symptoms described by the individuals experiencing digestive sensitivity (myself included), and symptoms of histamine intolerance can be, literally, body-wide in all kinds of different systems. Low histamine diet web pages indicate that fermented foods (those foods which are affected, or, in fact, created via bacterial action) are often very high in histamine (examples are vinegars, soy sauce, cheese, etc.)

        It would seem logical to me that the right type of (histamine-producing) bacteria, feeding on a substrate of sugar and other nutrients (the process to create xanthan), is going to potentially produce histamine as a by-produce. Not sure if the type of bacteria used for xanthan production is histamine producing, but I’d venture a guess that the answer might be yes 🙂

        I actually can’t help but wonder if histamine isn’t a player in the early stages of inflammatory bowel disease, to some degree.

  135. Thank you, Chris, for providing us with such great information. Could you please do an article on guar gum? If you have already, I can’t seem to find it. I alternate prebiotics and was told that guar gum is one. So I take 1/2 tsp of it in hot water once or twice a week before drinking milk or water kefir or kombucha, all of which I make myself. I make my own nut and coconut milk without any additives. I’ve never had any bad reactions to guar gum but would like to know if what I’m doing is safe.

  136. The problem I see with these additives are they rarely come alone. When is xanthan gum the only stabilizer/thickener used? Usually, a label looks more like this:

    Xanthan gum, guar gum, locust bean gum, carrageenan, polysorbate 80.

    All these things may seem innocuous enough on their own, but what happens when they’re combined? If you’re the type of person that makes a gluten-free cake for your kid’s birthday once a year, it’s probably fine to have a small stash of powdered food-grade xanthan gum in your pantry for those rare instances so the flours rise properly, but I’m going to continue to avoid it on food labels because it rarely comes alone.

  137. I have suspected I was sensitive to this additive and have developed SIBO eating a healthy primalarily Paleo/Primal diet (I have always had some form of IBS however and felt great after giving up gluten) I have been using bone broth and gelatin as my thickeners and avoiding store bought almond/coconut products with xanthan. Can you also do an article on guar gums since that goes hand in hand with xanthan. Also, I am wondering about konjac/glucommanan which I have eliminated from diet temporarily. Could you touch on that? Your columns are great and very balanced. Thank [email protected]

  138. I haven’t had a reaction to Xanthan gum in my own baking, but I ate some of Bob’s Red Mill’s GF corn bread on Thanksgiving (half of a muffin) and was immediately bloated like I had just ingested gluten. Not sure if it was the gum or the sorghum flour. Do you (or any readers) have any info on sorghum flour? I tried to google it and was unsuccessful.
    Thank you!

    • My husband and I have found that we are extremely sensitive to sorghum which sadly is being used by a lot of commercial gluten free bakeries. It is as bad as wheat for me! I do have some reaction to xanthan gum not enough to avoid it when out for occasional use but do not use it at home

    • It’s the corn! Corn is a horrible ‘bloatation device’ for me.. Notice it next time you eat a product with corn in it or even popcorn.

      • I think you are right. I had a measured cup of plain GF pasta from Trader Joe’s that was literally corn meal and water for the ingredients. I got bloated within 10 minutes of being done. Thanks for your reply!

      • Although it could be the sorghum–my husband and I both react to sorghum just like gluten(bloating, IBS)! I tend to react to corn with skin issues. I read somewhere(can’t remember) that there were some issues with contamination of Bob’s sorghum. We avoid it to be safe.

  139. A lot of people have multiple chemical sensitivities as well as allergies and as well as a genetic metabolic desease called Porphyria (Many types) and a very little bit of certain things cause terrible and sometimes life threatening reactions, so NO ONE can say that anythingsOK for everyone, whether it be natural or organic; to find out what you do not tolerate for whatever reason, you have to keep a very strict journal, not only of foods, but where you’ve been, what you/ve been exposed to, and have a lot of tests, etc.
    No matter all the various research, nothing applies to everyone, you have to be your own advocate and expecially with medicine, foods, cosmetics, environmenta;, etc., and you cannot rely on doctors as they are not up on anything much any more, and no one thing can cure anything; the body is dependent on synergistic food based nutrition.

  140. HI Chris, I would be interested how your comment “because xanthan gum appears to have a high propensity for altering the gut microbiome, and it’s unclear whether that alteration could be problematic in the long run” applies to the use of potato starch as a source of resistant starch in the diet. It also causes gas, but is being encouraged as a good thing to get into. I.e tatertot in comments section http://chriskresser.com/you-are-what-your-bacteria-eat-the-importance-of-feeding-your-microbiome-with-jeff-leach

      • Hi, what do you think about The xanthum gum in the toothpast, parodontax, thinking about the GMO factor.
        Does it work already in the mouth. One doesnot swallow it but some stays in the mouth? I use parodontax because it is fluor free, since 35 years. What Other toothpast can I find without fluor without GMO factors. I just don’t feel like supporting it if they are not interested in us, just in their own pockets of money.

  141. As usual, it comes to individual reactions and sensitivities.
    I react A LOT to Xantham gum, Carragheenan, AND guar gum! That’s a No-no for me, but it seems to be fine with most of my patients!!!!
    It’s worse for me than gluten or dairy! Oh well….!!! I have to make my own almond milk, and coconut milk, and coconut milk ice cream!!!!
    I appreciate the time you spend on the research Chris!!! Thanks!

  142. One factor you are overlooking is the GMO factor. When xanthan gum is made from corn or soy, and almost all the corn and soy in the USA is known to be GMO, then one can see how this ingredient can easily become troublesome, especially for folks with compromised immunity.

  143. I suspect I have reacted to xanthan gum just like I react to wheat exposure but can’t be sure as I didn’t eat it alone. I do not feel it improves the consistency of my bakings enough for me to use it so I have given it up. I might eat it if it was in something offered to me at someone’s house etc. but won’t buy it to my home.

    • There should be no problem for babies of nursing mothers as xanthan gum affects the gut and would be unlikely to be present in breast milk ( or in insignificant quantity if at all ). Retired midwife

  144. Thanks for the great article. As always, I appreciate the research you have done and the translation of that information into a form I can use! We have a Wheat free house, so we use Xanthan Gum to make sauces, soups etc. We have had no problems attributed to it and now my confidence using it has improved.

  145. I avoid xanthan gum as it causes gas, bloating and stomach aches – all fairly mild but uncomfortable anyway. I used to use it when making gluten free baked goods of which I would only consume one a day and then have many days or even a week or two before baking again. These mystery ingredients just do not seem to set well for me so I just avoid them.

  146. I have used in baked goods and feel it really improves the consistency. I haven’t noticed GI issues with its use. I sometimes use Swerve or xylitol with it and any tummy upset I would attribute to the sweetener.

  147. Thanks, Chris! I have had IBS for over 25 yrs and am concerned about the many additives used in gluten free or Paleo recipes. I stopped buying foods w/ Carragenan after reading your article but was unsure about xanthan gum. Now I know that I can indulge in small amounts w/I worrying.

  148. I stopped chewing all GUM 20some yrs ago….when I see people chewing now, I think of cows chewing on cuds……

    For a little lift, I use WOW Drops, much much better than any gum.

  149. I definitely react to Xanthan Gum. I’ve tried intermittently over the last 6 years to reintroduce it after being SCD/paleo, dairy-free and gluten-free, but it makes me ill every time I consume it. The “unpleasant gut symptoms,” which I have with it, are definitely worth avoiding despite the fact that I do like gluten-free products made with it.

    • Wheat, corn, soy, and dairy allergies
      Xanthan gum is produced by bacterial fermentation of a sugar-containing medium. Unfortunately, that ‘medium’ is often a potentially allergenic substance such as corn, soy, dairy, or wheat. Many xanthan gum manufacturers aren’t eager to share what their ‘medium’ is, but one common supplier, Bob’s Red Mill, discloses their production practices.

      It looks like they originally used corn or soy as a medium, but they’ve since changed their medium to a glucose solution derived from wheat starch. However, they claim that the xanthan gum is still gluten-free, and it continues to be marketed as such.

      It can be difficult to find production info online, but just be aware that if you have a severe allergy to corn, soy, wheat, or dairy, it would be prudent to either avoid xanthan gum entirely or check with the manufacturer to see how it’s produced.

  150. Very interesting post, Chris. To put this in perspective, xanthan gum is extremely effective thickener so very little is used. For example to thicken a cup of stock for deglazing a sauteed chicken breast would require about 1/4 teaspoon which must be less than 1/2 g. Two things: xanthan gum is very insoluble so, for example you would have to cook the deglazed stock for awhile and stir well to get out lumps. (More info in Dana Carpender’s book). Second, for thickening, it has consistency of corn starch-thickened liquid rather than flour-thickened.

  151. I react worse to xanthum gum than to gluten, it is made from the black mold smut from corn; it IS harmful to many people. I do not tolerate ANY of the gums and most other non nutritional so called ‘inactive added ingredients’; there is no such thing as an inactive ingredient, it is either going to be good or bad, and mostly bad as they are nnnon-digestible, and if you already have digestive problems, then they are going to be compounded expotentially. Some people are like canaries in the mines, a little will do us great harm, other so called normal people it takes a long time of useage to cause harm, by them it sometimes is too late to reverse, so stay away from crappy additives that FDA allows in people food, but does not allow in animal food! (except they allow it in animal foods comsumed by people cause they are going to kill them anyway and if they make a profit off them, they don’t care about the effects down the road on people) I just hope THEY eat a lot of their own products so they can get the full adverse affects of their greed.

    • Frances, I agree with your comments. Chris, You haven’t raised the issue of GMO. Food producers look for the cheapest ingredients so they can maximize profit. I doubt they would source organic corn, soy or wheat. The story about the infants and NEC sounds so counter-intuitive. Why thicken their formula if they are already having problems with swallowing?!! By the way flax seed becomes very gelatinous when soaked in water for anyone interested in making their own bread. I eat real food. And leave the crap made by the dark wizards of the food industry for them.
      Another canary.

      • Thickeners are add to infants milk when they have trouble swallowing. Thin liquid are difficult. Usually these babies have other issues as well. From a mother who knows.

        • The biggest reason to thicken formula is for a condition called Reflux (technical name?) This is a condition where the “flap” between the esophagus and stomach doesn’t work properly so the formula & thin baby food comes right back up which can cause choking and/or aspiration (breathing in liquids) Thickening the formula (+thinner baby foods) and keeping the child at a 45 degree angle helps tremendously (especially important to do after eating and while sleeping). We had to get creative for sleep but there’s plenty available to make that task easier these days! We jokingly referred to our Daughter as the exorcist baby because it would shoot halfway across the room, people weren’t lining up to feed her lol! They usually grow out of this but surgery is sometimes needed. My Daughter did amazingly well, she gained weight normally and was completely cured by 8.5 months (when she began walking) I credit the sound advice of our Oldtimer Pediatrician for her recovery, his advice was much better than that of my youngest Sons pediatrician (who talked disdainfully about the “older” ways!) The oldtimer explained it by giving an example of a water bottle without the top on…the fuller it is or the more you tip it the more that will come out…it won’t come out quite so easily when thickened but it still comes out so keeping her upright was the best solution for her safety and comfort (think heartburn). He had us use 2 teaspoons of RICE cereal (easiest to digest) per ounce of formula and about half that in the thinner baby foods (they add water to commercial baby food so homemade is thicker and better when possible…I always froze it in ice cube trays then transferred it to ziplock bags so I always had perfect portions ready for use!) We were only supposed to feed her 1 ounce per hour but we often gave her two (satisfied her better and for longer periods (just made sure not to jostle her or handle her too much after feeding…the swing, without movement, worked really well for this purpose!) We were also told to change her diaper before feeding so we wouldn’t have to lay her down…remember the water bottle example!!

          Soy formula is the worst ever…all kinds of studies linking it to big problems….I can attest to them because my youngest drank it for 16 months and has had a multitude of health issues (currently very ill with Hashimoto’s which began at age 14)

          • As a former La Leche League Leader and special ed teacher who dealt with multiply handicapped preschoolers who had difficulty swallowing, thickening foods helps enable those with weak muscles to bring the food from the tip of the tongue to the back of the throat for swallowing. With infants, consuming mother’s milk is the only ideal food for the first 6 months because they have immature digestive systems. Their can’t absorb nutrients very well from most other sources and although baby formula is sometimes indicated, mother’s milk is best; Thickened rice cereal, foods thickened with flax meal, and foods thickened with xanthan gum are not advised until the baby develops the enzymes to break down that food. Being in the food industry, I have done extensive research on xanthan gum and like Chris, I came away with the same conclusion….in normal amounts used in foods, xanthan gum is benign.

            • I have a fourteen month old daughter and I have been giving her unsweetened almond milk a couple times a day because solely cow ‘s milk has been giving her painful, hard stool. I read about newborns and the danger there but is it okay for my baby/toddler to have almond milk with xanthan gum in it? The almond milk seems to help with going to the bathroom but has these added ingredients I’m not sure about.

            • My son has the condition called silent aspiration. All liquids need to be thickened to honey consistency. We’ve been using between 30-60g per day which is a lot higher than the amounts mentioned in this article. He’s on a gluten free diet or so we thought until I read this article. We may be using chia seeds instead from now on. We’ve used before and it should be more beneficial for him. It’s easier to thicken his soups and smoothies with fruits and veggies but there’s no much to do when we need to maintain his water intake up without compromising his lung health.
              Thank you for doing and sharing this research.

      • Thick liqiuds are more difficult to aspirate when you have swallowing problems. Thickeners are used so that you have more control of the food and thus less likely to aspirate.

      • Like you, I am hesitant to use Gum or any “inactive ingredients, but I desperately need something to produce wheat free bread, in order for it not to fall apart. Are you saying that ground flax seed soaked in water will accomplish the same?

          • Thanks Marian, I appreciate the link. I am fortunate not to have any medical problem, but I strongly believe in preventative practices.

        • I got rid of bread in my house, it started when I wanted to get rid of gluten, started buying gluten free bread and that wasn’t to my taste, so I just stopped bringing any bread into my house….I eat all my sandwiches in a lovely romaine lettuce leaf(s)…just had a lovely chicken/romaine with dijon mustard sandwich…I use MOST organic foods….

          • @Joy, Collard greens also make a good wrap for sandwich purposes. We’re fortunate to have a local entrepeneur who has created a raw organic vegetable wrap. It’s held together with ground flax.

            • Yes, I suppose one could use any LARGE green leaf as a wrap, I’ve stuck with beautiful romaine, but I’ll give other leaves a chance too for my wrap.

              I don’t use flax as I read things about it that didn’t fit for me…forget it all now, but don’t use it….and no breads in this house…

          • Hey Joy, another way you can enjoy a sandwich without all the additives in bread is using corn tortillas as your bread. Lightly toast, or heat a tortilla in a pan and add your favorite ingredients. I buy the Casa Valdez brand at my local Winco market..The only ingredients are whole grain corn, water and lime.

            • is it non-GMO corn? I wouldn’t eat corn (or ANY corn products) ever again after what I learned about “monsato corn” and what it is doing to us!

          • love your reaction, I am there now to and really enjoying it. keep it up.

            My question is more do I want it in my thoothpaste. My favo parodontax fluoride free?

        • Hi there, just read your post. I make wheat free bread all the time and it is awesome and all natural! Look up “against all grain” by Danielle walker, her world famous sandwich bread is what I make. Hope this helps:)

          • Hi Tiff, I too have made Danielle Walker’s grain free bread. It’s awesomely delicious; pain-free bread. I do call it my ‘special occasion’ bread as raw cashew butter is $13.00 (in Canada) for the amount required for this recipe.
            Meggs, I tried the buckwheat bread. Didn’t turn out for me. Door- stop material. Maybe I missed something.
            Anyone tried the gluten free girls recipes? You have to weigh everything, and I’m resisting purchasing a scale, as I’m limiting intake of grains altogether. But fall is coming and I love home-made soup with a crusty roll. Here’s a link:http://glutenfreegirl.com/a-guide-to-gluten-free-baking/

      • Hey if you have a good recipe for bread, I wonder if you would share, since I can’t eat any of the commercial breads. Thanks. I agree leave the toxins for the ones making us sick.

      I could not believe american person wrote this. I got used to people think I am crazy thinking all “THAT” stuff is bad. And also I got used to think I am the only (lonely) idividum thinking that way. Hope very much America wakes up one day. Sadly no one is protected from the “infection” of big/easy/fast money, just as no one has the immunity from greediness, neither in the third world countries neither here in the US. God save America.

    • Well said Frances! I’m also a believer of avoiding non nutritional so / inactive added ingredients. I love pure food. I also get cautious when I read that it is being created by taking out one ingredient (the bacteria) multiply it excessively (and even worse on an unknown medium). Things are out of proportion / balance and I believe that could be distressing the human body / digestive system.

      I know this is an old post, but I stumbled upon it and so will others. And I still like to reply.

    • I so agree that the FDA approves additives in food which are very harmful. Wouldn’t it be ironic if someone with the FDA came down sick & that was a main cause. It’s difficult to tell quite often though the source of a sickness when there is so much that is bad for our system. So much controversy in the food industry. Don’t know what to eat or drink anymore!!

  152. Considering that any thing more than 1/8-1/4 tsp causes things to become disgustingly ‘goopy’ and slimy… I think I’ll take my chances haha

    I only use it in baking anyways to give things some elasticity.

    • I like to use it to thicken chili, sauces, some soups; all which are homemade. The small amount I use in a large pot, probably about 2 tsp the most, does not appear to be significant but is far better than using at least 3x as much corn starch and or flour to get the same results.

      • I don’t suffer form insomnia, but the smallest amount of xanathan gum or guar gum triggers a violent spasmodic reaction for me…I have IBS and Celiac disease, so both are known to be toxic offenders and do cause a plethora of gastrointestinal issues…actually guar gum is a laxative, so for me, I need to avid it all costs, plus the more a person ingests, the more it expands in your system…not a good picture for me because I have years of intestinal damage and need to monitor my soluble fiber intake. Xanathan gum is made from a bacterial mold fungus…so once again, I need to steer clear of it entirely. Anyone else suffer from digestive disorders with either of these terrible additives? rl

        • Yes, to the point of bloating to the size of a 7 month pregnancy in the space of an hour, ripping my innards (I could literally feel my insides stretching and tearing from the suddenness of the swelling of my abdomen!!) causing subsequent rectal hemorrhage (and a $5000+ medical bill it will take me years to pay!). Basically the stuff quite literally makes me explode. Whoever approved thickeners as a food additive deserves a life sentence. I feel lucky to be a survivor, it’s that bad.

          Thickeners are fraudulent in the first place: they are used to make up for the absence of any real ingredients, a smokescreen to fool the public into thinking they’re eating food. One would think the basis of fraud alone ought to make thickeners illegal. They are industrial waste products designed to increase profit margins, not food, they are there to make you believe you’re eating without the manufaturers actually spending any money to feed you.

          I have no Celiac or other digestive disease beyond some mild intollerance to wheat products and some cheese, the additives alone are enough to cause those symptoms.

          • People taking meds for HYPERTENSION BEWARE OF XANTHAN GUM !
            I am sensitive to Xanthan gum and experience extreme intestinal issues issues when I consume too much (and the problem is that too much varies from product to product. ) Usually I try to eat clean … but I recently bought a package of name brand Sunday cones to eat with my grandchildren as a treat for the holiday …big mistake .I am hypertensive and take a low dose ace inhibitor daily. After eating 3 Sunday cones over the course of a day I not only experienced digestive issues but a huge drop in blood pressure the following day ! 93/68 , horrible headache , could barely stand up . Had to drink 3 cups of strong coffee (and drink 1/4 teaspoon of salt in 8 oz of water ) to just bring it up to 100/76 ! ( Usually I can only do decaf, 1/4 cup of caffinated sends me for an extra dose of my hypertension meds.) After reading about how xanthan gum can pull large amounts of water into the intestines ,and thereby make you dehydrated and since dehydration lowers blood pressure , the mystery has been solved . Just be warned if you take medications for hypertension this “laxative mold ” can increase their effect by making you dehydrated . Ruined my day with my grand kids( and may have to sit on a donut at my desk for the next few days as a result of the laxative effect ) but I consider myself lucky . If someone with heart problems or previous stroke had had a reaction such as mine the consequences could have been much worse .

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