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

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Gluten-free baked goods often contain xanthan gum. diego_cervo/istock/thinkstock

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.

Conclusion

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.

456 Comments

Join the conversation

  1. 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!

        Joan

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.
    Thoughts?

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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…

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

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

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