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Could Xanthan Gum Sensitivity be Complicating your Celiac Disease Recovery?

Celiac.com 12/03/2008 - Xanthan Gum is a polysaccharide used as a binder in many gluten-free products.  In the production of xanthan gum, sucrose or glucose is fermented by a bacterium, Xanthomonas campestris.   After a four-day fermentation period, the polysaccharide is precipitated from a corn-based growth medium with isopropyl alcohol, dried, and ground into a fine powder.  When added to a liquid medium, a slippery, sticky gum is formed, and this substance works well in holding baked goods together, or keeping separate liquid ingredients in suspension in salad dressings and sauces.

While the above description doesn't make it sound very appetizing, what's the problem with xanthan?  Some people develop an allergy to xanthan, with gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea.  Even consumption of a very minor amount can lead to days and days of recovery and many trips to the bathroom.  Hmm.  Sound like anything we've heard before?  And that's the problem.  Experiencing a xanthan reaction can make you question your gluten-free diet, make you think you were accidentally exposed to gluten, or mystify you completely.

A xanthan reaction can also precipitate migraine headaches, skin itchiness, and for those exposed to large amounts, such as bakery workers, nose and throat irritation.   Symptoms of xanthan sensitivity become more prevalent with increasing exposure, so that can be one important clue.  If you've suddenly started baking alot, or become addicted to a new brand of gluten-free cookies, and you start to have increased gastrointestinal symptoms, you may want to consider ruling out an adverse reaction to xanthan gum.

What's a body to do?  Guar gum makes a good substitute, and it is also less expensive.

How did I become aware of this?  Well, actually I have known about this for quite awhile, but since xanthan gum is in so many gluten-free products, I thought that sensitivity to xanthan must be a rare and isolated occurrence.  Then two things happened to change my mind.  I began baking a lot of gluten-free products for a business venture, and suddenly started having some gastro-intestinal problems, after being healthy for so long.  I didn't have the severe pain of a gluten reaction, but otherwise my symptoms were eerily similar, particularly the bloating.  I had already decided to lay off the baking (and tasting) as much as I could, and had narrowed the possibilities down to either tapioca starch or xanthan gum.   Then, a student in one of my cooking classes let me know that she had a severe allergy to xanthan, and described her symptoms.  They were identical, except in severity.

I reformulated my recipes using only guar gum for my next stretch of gluten-free baking, and I had no problem at all.  I certainly hope that I do not develop a reaction to Guar gum, which is the ground carbohydrate storage portion of the guar bean.  I have not seen reports of allergy or sensitivity to guar gum, but will do a little more research for my own knowledge, which I will share in the future.

By no means am I advocating that all people following a gluten-free diet give up products made with Xanthan gum.  But, if you do not feel that the diet is helping you, and are still symptomatic, a sensitivity to Xanthan gum is one possibility that needs to be ruled out.

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84 Responses:

 
Cara
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said this on
10 Dec 2008 11:57:13 AM PST
Thanks! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one! Isn't it funny that guar gum is cheaper, corn free and fermentation free - it makes me wonder why anyone uses xanthan gum.

 
Loke
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said this on
10 Dec 2008 2:50:06 PM PST
I am also sensitive to guar gum with the same type of symptoms and have chosen to eliminate baked goods except for occasional mochi.

 
Kay
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said this on
10 Dec 2008 3:04:38 PM PST
I had to figure out my xanthan gum allergy all by myself. I am dismayed to find it in so many gluten free mixes and products. Since I also avoid legumes, I have stayed away from guar gum. Unflavored gelatin is all I've got to work with. I've got a bread recipe that works for me, so I'm happy.

I also react to annatto, which is used in cheeses to maintain color. It took me MONTHS to narrow down that search and finally figure it out! Lately I've heard that other celiacs also react to it.

 
Carolee
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said this on
30 Apr 2010 2:42:57 PM PST
Thanks for your comments! I will try eliminating xanthan gum as I've been off quar gum for a couple of years. That helped but I still have problems. After 22 years on the celiac diet it sure would be nice to have a flat stomach and calm gut again.

 
Stephanie
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said this on
15 Feb 2011 4:59:50 PM PST
I am also unable to eat anything with xanthan gum. Would really be interested how you make gluten free bread without it.

 
Janet W
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said this on
14 Jul 2016 11:08:53 PM PST
I found gluten free baking baking powder believe it or not. I use it in everything and it has never given me a problem. It is aluminum free, reduced sodium, and gluten free made in the good ole USA. Its name is Rumford Baking Powder. Tonight what brought me here is that I decided to use Xanthan gum for a change and had a terrible reaction. A horrible migraine headache which ruined my evening. I now know I am allergic to it. Thank goodness for this site.

 
Molly
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said this on
08 Sep 2011 5:30:02 PM PST
Any chance you'd share your bread recipe? I also have guar and xanthan allergies (guar was found at Jefferson Hospital traditional allergy testing when I was 5 years old, nearly 40 years ago, so guar gum allergies are not new or unknown).
I'm also cooking without legumes and a whole list of other ingredients that my household is allergic to at this time. Thanks.

 
Barbara
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said this on
14 Dec 2011 1:44:56 PM PST
By process of elimination, I am just discovering that my symptoms are being caused by Xanthan Gum. Had blood test yesterday for corn allergy ( I cannot tolerate corn pasta), symptoms are even worse than gluten. Options are becoming very limited.

 
Stu
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said this on
18 May 2012 10:16:37 PM PST
Try adding about 10% glutenous rice flour to your mix instead of xanthan gum. I use that in my flour mix for everything from breads to waffles.
Ditto on the Annatto - note that some famous brand "Brats" have annatto in them also. I found that out the hard way. The reaction I get is very similar to gluten.
Tartrazine (FD&C Yellow #5) is another one. It took me months to figure out what I was reacting to. I narrowed it down to this by eating simple hard candies and comparing the ingredients with the reactions. It turns out they used the stuff to color my daily vitamins! The symptoms went away after I switched brands.

 
Teresa Challender
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said this on
29 Jun 2012 1:25:19 PM PST
You use gelatin? Where do you find your recipes -- I'm fascinated, because I'm trying to find out what I'm allergic to in my gluten-free baking. Which has become a problem since starting to bake gluten-free these last few months.

Please email me!
resachallender at yahoo.com

thanks so much!
Teresa

 
Lynnie
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said this on
06 Jan 2013 5:59:40 AM PST
Teresa, have you thought about going completely grain-free and seeing if that makes a difference?
I have pollen food allergies and can't have any Grains (including rice and corn) or legumes, which makes things pretty tricky! I use quinoa flour, potato starch and arrowroot starch to bake with. I don't use canthum gum or guar gum as the first is corn based and guar gum is a legume. I have tried the gelatine in a couple of things or just add extra egg. Hope thats helpful!

 
Jacqui Cherry
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said this on
23 Jan 2013 9:25:53 PM PST
Can you share your bread recipe?

 
sally berk
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said this on
10 Dec 2008 6:32:16 PM PST
I have noticed a sensitivity to xanthan gum and was very glad to get confirmation through this article.

 
Kay
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said this on
11 Dec 2008 6:40:26 AM PST
Thanks for the tip, Wendy. I used half potato flour in my last loaf of bread and the texture was MUCH better than using just rice flours. I think I'll use it often!

 
Lauren
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said this on
11 Dec 2008 3:04:07 PM PST
I had just begun suspecting that I had a problem with Xanthum Gum. I had not been able to get it and purchased Guar Gum instead.

I just got a bread maker and made the raisin bread recipe. No problems. We have access to several different locally produced gluten free breads. I have a huge problem with my favorite.

I just started wondering if the Xanthum Gum was the issue and am very grateful for this article.

Thank you.

 
Jami R.
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said this on
15 Dec 2008 7:28:09 PM PST
Xantham Gum made me sick too.I threw out the bag I bought. I'm glad it wasn't just me. I never thought of Guar Gum, though. You have to mix up your own Gluten Free Flour.

 
Jami R.
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said this on
15 Dec 2008 7:45:39 PM PST
Have you heard of Konjac Root? I learned on a site called Gluten Free baking pans that it can be used like Xanthan Gum. I bought it from an herbal supplier.

 
Deborah Thompson
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said this on
10 Jan 2009 6:56:15 AM PST
I also react to both xanthan gum and guar gums! I'm glad to see the discussion begin. I might try gelatin but, like many others, we just avoid baked goods. The whole revelation about gluten and other food sensitivities has led us to change the way we eat entirely.

 
Miranda Dunn
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said this on
30 Sep 2013 10:10:50 AM PST
I too react severely to guar gum and now I'm suspicious of xanthan gum after eating it in a gluten free bread. I had quit gluten and dairy and had gone Paleo for some time with dramatic improvement in symptoms (rashes, joint pain, asthma). I recently began slowly adding in only GF grains one at a time and seemed to be ok until the GF bread with xanthan gum and "natural enzymes" was added into my diet.
I react not just to soy but to all foods in the legume family. I finally found a brand of coconut milk that didn't have guar gum as a thickening agent. I kept getting breathing problems that a nebulizer couldn't help until I figured out legumes were a problem. I haven't had one asthma attack in over a year and half since figuring the legume thing out. Even a completely "natural soda was setting my asthma off and I didn't know why until they changed the ingredients list from "natural flavor" to gum Arabic. Beware legumes in other forms by other names. I had had all the traditional allergy tests but nothing was conclusive but my symptoms didn't change till' I did the elimination diet and got real good at label reading.
Also I avoid GMO foods like the plague. Also, some people with leaky gut or IBS can't tolerate FODMAPS (fermentable, oligo, di monosaccharides and polyols glutenous grains are high in these). The low FODMAPS diet is having a lot of success in treating people with IBS, Crohn's and leaky gut issues with varied causes.
I'm also very sensitive to molds so I wonder if my response to xanthan gum could be as simple as a mold sensitivity. I hope this is helpful in some way.

 
Donna J
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said this on
23 Mar 2014 6:35:22 PM PST
I am happy to hear that someone else thinks xanthan gum problems might be caused by the fermentation process, and residual mold might be the source of the allergy problem. My allergist tested me for corn allergy to see if that was why xanthan gum seems to bother me, when I am very allergic to molds.

 
Susan
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said this on
28 Aug 2016 10:41:03 AM PST
Although I haven't actually tried it properly, I agree with you that Paleo must be very good. My gluten and other intolerances are healed and I can eat almost anything with any severe digestive problems, but I definitely feel better without grains and eat very little, with the result that I have also lost weight. Yippee!!!

 
kathycamp@kos.net
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said this on
08 Sep 2009 2:06:56 PM PST
Found the above very enlightening as I also had to figure out that I was sensitive to Xanthan Gum by comparing two gluten free breads I had bought, one with the other without. Hard to find out everything Xanthan Gum is in and it is not always put on the label if it is in ice cream.

 
Kate Dalby
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said this on
21 Sep 2009 7:57:54 PM PST
Anyone have trouble with sorghum or millet?. I think I had a reaction to a gluten free pizza dough that had sorghum and millet (and xanthan gum) but don't have trouble with a gluten free pancake mix that has xanthan gum but not the other two ingredients.

 
Judy
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said this on
19 Dec 2009 12:44:07 AM PST
I, too, react to sorghum. I have been afraid to try millet.

 
L

said this on
20 Oct 2013 4:34:35 PM PST
I had the blood tests done and I have to stay away from millet, and I'm reading these posts to find out about sorghum....wondering if my current reaction is to sorghum. Are they related?

 
Jacqui Cherry
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said this on
23 Jan 2013 9:30:59 PM PST
I've been told that sorghum is a relative to corn. Hope that helps.

 
Erin
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said this on
09 Dec 2009 8:37:50 AM PST
Thanks for this article! I have a wheat sensitivity and avoid all wheat and gluten products. I have been mystified to why I am having my stomach symptoms recently and getting worse. I recently found a great gluten free bread and lemon poppy seed scones, it seemed like they were bothering my stomach the next day after eating them... but they're both gluten-free! I checked the ingredients and they both have xathan gum, which my other gluten free items don't. Hopefully avoiding xanthan gum will alleviate my symptoms!

Thank you! Self research on the Internet is amazing!

 
Judy
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said this on
19 Dec 2009 12:42:37 AM PST
My son and I react to both xanthan gum AND guar gum. In fact, my son has even worse symptoms with guar gum than with xanthan gum. I suspect that quite a few people react to either or both, and some may not even know that they do.

 
Ann G
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said this on
15 May 2010 3:50:17 PM PST
Thank you! I HATE that even products that would have no gluten to begin with still have xanthan & guar gums in them. I just want to eat!

 
Melissa M
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said this on
28 May 2010 6:26:50 AM PST
Thanks so much for writing this article and bringing this problem to the attention of more celiacs. Now if only manufacturers, recipe developers and cookbook authors would take note! I had noticed that I would have digestive problems later in the day if I ate toast with my breakfast. After a lot of experimentation with several commercial brands and homemade recipes with and without xanthan gum, I finally narrowed the problem down to the gum. I suspect this problem is more widespread than people realize. How often do you hear people speculating that a product has cross-contamination or hidden gluten because they "react" to it. No one ever seems to blame the xanthan gum. I am getting increasing frustrated with cookbook authors who put it in everything, even recipes like cakes and cookies where it doesn't provide much benefit to the texture.

 
kim Mustard
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said this on
04 Jun 2010 6:14:47 PM PST
I have also had reactions to both xanthan gum and guar gum. One suggestion that I have come across is to use chia seeds in baking to act as a "binder". Chia can be used ground or whole. A suggestion is 1-2 Tbsp per 1 cup of water and use in place of other liquids in the recipe such as water or milk. I am going to try this once my stomach settled down from the latest guar gum reaction...

 
salmaledon
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said this on
01 Aug 2012 11:14:10 AM PST
Hi! Do you use the chia as a substitute to the liquid, or do you put them both? Thanks!

And for getting better with all those leaky gut symptoms, I would recommend you to do a little research of the Paleo Diet. It has saved my life!

 
Jenny
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said this on
07 Jun 2010 2:47:33 PM PST
I have been wondering why I have issues after eating supposedly gluten-free breads, muffins, etc. I'm going to have to see if this is the issue. In the meantime I just wrote Udi's to point this out to them and ask them to experiment with guar gum or other alternatives. I'm going to write a few of my other favorite gluten-free manufacturers, too. They may not know, either!

 
Britt
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said this on
25 Jun 2010 11:04:12 PM PST
Thank you! I couldn't understand why I felt sick every time I ate from the gluten-free bakery, or why my symptoms rarely seemed to improve. It was only when I developed a bad rash immediately after chowing down on some new gluten-free cookies that I had to check the ingredients.
I will certainly look into this more - you may have helped my health immensely! Thank you!

 
Steve Rice
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said this on
09 Aug 2010 9:23:09 AM PST
The Xanthan Gum article written by Gini Warner is misleading. What she should of mentioned, that those 3 types of sugars are found in many different types of foods and not specifically corn. The public will misinterpret that xanthan has corn. It does not. A glucose syrup is fed to the bacteria which they metabolize and propagate. Once grown the bacteria is then washed and through a series of alcohol reactions produces the polysaccharide, Xanthan gum. Testing done by University of Nebraska has shown no corn to be found.

 
Ellen
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said this on
14 Jul 2012 8:09:04 AM PST
I'm not sure that is accurate. I became sensitive to corn, and at the same time became sensitive to xanthan gum, only I did not know at the time that most xanthan gum was made from corn. Authentic Foods makes a xanthan gum that does not use corn. In my case, the problem is definitely corn.

 
Kathy
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said this on
13 Oct 2010 8:42:30 AM PST
From Wikipedia "Xanthan gum may be derived from a variety of source products that are themselves common allergens, such as corn, wheat, or soy." If it's made from wheat that seems like a bad idea for Celiacs. Wonder why so many "gluten free" products use it?

 
Lillie
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said this on
28 Oct 2010 10:02:47 AM PST
I was diagnosed as having gluten intolerance a few days ago and have been referred to have a biopsy of my small intestines to see if I have celiac disease. Since I am new at this I appreciate the heads up on the Xanthan Gum, (I use this gum to stiffen thread for bead weaving, funny huh?). I have the blister rash and the doctor told me that without the medication it could take up to six months to get total relief from my symptoms. I don't want the meds and I don't want the rash so to be safe I'm not using the Xanthan Gum in my food. Thank you all for your help and thank you for this site.

 
chrissi
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said this on
30 Mar 2011 2:07:11 PM PST
Thanks! I love to bake and being gluten free and allergic to eggs and dairy, couldn't figure out why my GF vegan apple cake made me itch so bad. I had to figure out quick that I was allergic to the xanthan gum. Does anyone know why? What is in it?
I heard that guar gum can't stand up to the heat with yeast breads. Does anyone have a recipe or experience of it working? I miss my crackers and french bread and ciabatta!

 
Claudia
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said this on
03 May 2011 11:09:05 AM PST
I also discovered this sensitivity on my own after eating Udi's bread for a couple of months. It was the only food that had changed in my diet. I have written to the company to encourage eliminating X gum but so far no response. Also look out for carrageenan... See Dr. Joanne Tobacman's research in this area. (It's in Silk milks, Carnation milks and so many other products. .... harmful to the intestines.)

 
Emily
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said this on
09 Jul 2011 7:24:03 PM PST
Thank you for posting your article! I recently figured out that I have a gluten sensitivity, and quickly realized I also have a xanthan gum sensitivity. I'm glad you mentioned that it can get worse, since I thought I was noticing that. I used to be able to have salad dressing with the gum in it but after most of this week with an upset stomach, I will avoid it altogether. I wish every salad dressing didn't have xanthan gum in it!

 
Jeri
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said this on
29 Sep 2012 11:18:55 AM PST
Thank you Emily for mentioning bottled salad dressing! I am also allergic to both xanthan and guar gums. It is scary how many processed food items, including salad dressings, frozen entrees, and even some cola drinks contain it! When will it be considered an allergen and require CLEAR WARNINGS?

 
CireneS
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said this on
20 Aug 2011 8:21:12 PM PST
I was thrilled to find this article. I am sensitive to all kinds of gum, xanthan, guar, locust bean gum, acacia gum, cellulose gum and carrageenan - all used for emulsifying and found in SO MANY foods now. I avoid gluten but the gums elicit much more severe reactions - pain in the pelvic area that can be so severe that walking is hard for several days. I hope this article helps others!

 
RonB
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said this on
26 Sep 2011 9:34:38 AM PST
I got pretty sick and narrowed it down to Xanthan gum after switching from grinding up oats, corn, rice, quinoa, and other grains, for a homemade pizza crust, to Bob's Red Mill pizza crust mix (a lot easier). Why is it so hard for the food industry to just make simple food? Why do they play with 'the gooey stuff from rotting greens'? Eating bacterial rot never seemed like a good idea to me. I just want simple plain food! I don't care about bubbles and stretchiness. I just want to eat and not get sick. Is that really too much to ask in this day and age?

 
Donnie
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said this on
14 Oct 2011 8:27:52 PM PST
I'm allergic to corn, and have serious reactions to xanthan gum and all other corn and corn-derived additives. I have to avoid almost all gluten-free products, because they contain xanthan gum. I know several other celiacs who react to xanthan gum, too.

 
Ginger
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said this on
26 Nov 2014 5:14:41 PM PST
Symptoms such as stomach pains, bloating and gas
when using when eating Udi's bagels which has
Xanthan gum. Same symptoms for you?

 
Maija Haavisto
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said this on
28 Oct 2011 2:02:41 PM PST
No one has mentioned psyllium? It can be used in gluten-free baking very similarly to xanthan gum, though it's mixed with the liquid, not the flour. I think the dosing is usually about 1:1. Where I come from psyllium is by far the most common ingredient people use to improve texture of homemade gluten-free baked goods, though xanthan is used too.

Agar agar can be used too, though the dosing is different and I can't really say much about it. I believe agar is the least allergenic of the whole bunch.

 
Jill
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said this on
11 Jun 2012 6:32:31 PM PST
Psyllium 1:1, meaning 1 teaspoon psyllium to 1 teaspoon water?

 
Tracey Gaitani
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said this on
19 Nov 2011 10:53:11 AM PST
I have to say that while giving my 3 year old son coconut milk, I discovered that he reacted to the guar gum in it so severely that it messed with his blood sugars and sent him into Ketosis. He also had severe behavioral issues while ingesting it and is highly intolerant to gluten, casein, soy, corn, oxalates, salicylates, and has a probable mitochondrial disease. I will never give him anything with this in it again... nourishing him is so difficult..I am trying to avoid putting him back on a formula like Elecare.

 
knudt
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said this on
19 Dec 2011 9:21:20 AM PST
My son is very allergic to xanthan gum. I only figured it out by comparing ingredients in foods that bothered him. What is the common ingredient in Hershey's chocolate syrup and Taco Bell taco sauce? Only xanthan gum. His allergist tested him for xanthan and confirmed it.

 
ruqaiya
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said this on
20 Dec 2011 4:24:06 AM PST
I too have recently discovered a sensitivity to xanthan gum & put it down to it's 'corn' content, which I've developed a sensitivity to in the past 6 months. I've been on a gluten free diet for 4 years and have changed the way I eat and cook completely. After OD'ing on gluten free corn flakes, my corn sensitivity showed up! So now I can't eat gluten, wheat, dairy or corn! After eliminating corn, I experienced severe symptoms exactly the same as corn related ones and I'd only eaten mayo and hot pepper sauce, which I regularly eat and both of which contained xanthan gum. Researching online I discovered it's produced from 'corn' which surprised me, as most foods containing xanthan gum make no reference to 'corn' on the label for Allergy Advice. Some tips.. Tesco Finest do a nice xanthan gum free mayo & to make your own hot pepper sauce, use Harissa (pepper/pimento paste) and apple cider vinegar to dilute to required consistency! Delicious! As for bread.. I now mix gram flour with water and pinch of salt to a batter and pour on to hot oil on a frying pan, it makes a pancake/bread like fritter that's great with curries and soups etc., my alternative to bread. Add spices and chopped coriander for taste. Also add rice flour to it, before the water, for a crisper pancake.

 
Asher
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said this on
02 Jan 2012 1:09:41 PM PST
I've been wondering about this, too. Unfortunately, my wife is definitely allergic to legumes, so, guar gum is not an option. Any other ideas?

 
Emily
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said this on
01 Feb 2012 7:50:16 PM PST
I have also figured out that I am allergic to xanthan gum. I'm so sorry to hear everyone else saying the same thing, because it is in SO many products. But I am relieved to know that I'm not the only one. Thank you for a helpful article!

 
Elskbrev
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said this on
11 Feb 2012 11:05:52 AM PST
@RonB: You speak for me. What is so difficult about producing simple, edible, wholesome food. And they put it in Everything!
Re this article: I suffered mysterious, occasional gastric problems for years before I figured out it was the xanthan gum. Extreme stomach and intestinal bloating accompanied by pain like knives in my stomach. Lucky for me, my symptoms disappear within 20 hours of ingesting xanthan gum, and I get no other symptoms--no diarrhea or constipation. No stomach remedies relieve my symptoms, though I believe OTC anti-gas medication may help a little with the abdominal distention, though the pain only subsides after several hours and a normal bowel movement. I discovered that xanthan gum was the problem when I decided to experiment with a gluten free diet and found that only the baked goods bothered me, and in exactly the same way that I had always suffered and was trying to resolve. The good news for me is, no need for a gluten free diet and no known food allergies. I now revel in the fact that I can eat any type of food I want, as long as it does not contain xanthan gum.
Others have mentioned guar gum and locust bean gum--I have never experienced stomach trouble from these, and I seldom eat foods containing them. Interesting the comment about carrageenan--I will have to research that one.
I like to cook all my own food from scratch in order to avoid accidentally ingesting xanthan gum. These days, just about every store-bought food contains it, so it is next to impossible to avoid in social gatherings without appearing rude, or like a hyper disciplined athletic thin one who can't just relax and have a piece of cake just this once. Or, I could interview each cook at the potluck for specifics about his or her recipe; wouldn't that be fun? I mean, I am kind of a foodie, but that is ridiculous. I usually just bring enough of something I cooked myself, and just eat that. My sympathies to you all who have to be on restricted diets due to your real food allergies, but know that even someone who has no real food allergies can be allergic to a slimy bacteria fermented in a laboratory. About me: 20 years experience of trial and error to discover what i had to eat to avoid these gastrointestinal problems (whole foods, home made) and only the past three years knowing what the real problem was--xanthan gum.

 
Meghann
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said this on
06 Mar 2012 6:54:33 AM PST
Thank you so much! I have been off gluten, dairy and egg for about a year but still have weird episodes that I can't trace back to any of the aforementioned items. Testing revealed mild allergy to dairy and egg white, but not gluten. My nutritionist advised me that I could still have a gluten sensitivity even though it doesn't show up as an allergy on the blood test profile. Two recent incidents lead me to believe I have a problem wit xanthan gum. I attempted trying meatloaf with one egg using udi's bread and after eating experienced a tingky, burning, inflamed and slightly puffy tongue along with stomach tightness and bowel issues to follow. I thought it was the egg, "confirming" the allergy I'd been afraid to test out and decided not to have it again or use the bread which contains egg. Yesterday I tried making gf brownies (betty crocker) with pumpkin as the only added ingredientvb to avoid egg. Same reaction occurred. I checked the labels for the brownie mix and the bread and the common factor was xanthan gum. Then I got to thinking about all the other reactions I had had in the past two years, including toothpaste (which I thought was fluoride sensitivity), cosmetic and hair products, even prescription drugs...all have xanthate gum! I feel like I'm onto something here! One nagging curiosity...could xanthan allergy be stand alone or does it necessarily go hand in hand with gluten sensitivity? Wondering about trying something with gluten that does not contain xanthan gum.... Been so afraid of trying anything with gluten for the past year, but maybe I'm barking up the wrong tree? And how might xanthan gum be related to dairy products?

 
Diane
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said this on
19 Sep 2013 11:14:29 AM PST
I am at the same cross roads exactly Meghann! Just reading your post on Sept 19, 2013 and wondering what you discovered over time?? Please let me know. Thanks,

 
Isa
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said this on
15 Mar 2012 7:34:42 PM PST
It causes "necrotizing enterocolitis" in premies and cancer patients (who have compromised immune systems and have had antibiotics) - see Wikipedia article
So what does it do to the normal folks, Let alone the adults with compromised immune systems, allergies and/or lots of antibiotics under our belt?!
I've found that I'm better eating cheese or wheat than something with Xanthan gum!
I've been sick for THREE YEARS and wonder how much less it would have been if I hadn't been eating all those processed gluten-free foods with Xanthan gum in them! Wow, I'm ticked now!

 
AJK27
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said this on
26 Mar 2016 9:47:05 AM PST
Very interesting. I have been trying to narrow down an allergy of my 8 yrar old daughter. She was a preemie. She seems to have a reaction similar to the others. I have noticed everything with the label Xanthan Gum seems to bother her. This allergy started as a toddler with pasta pickups. Now I'm doing a food log to watch her food. It is not a severe allergy but is extremely annoying and makes her sick. She was a preemie and was only 2 lbs. Her twin has no reaction. I will be having her allergy tested again since it has been years since last. We tested for wheat before and a few other things.

 
Lisa@glutenfreesupper.com
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said this on
10 May 2012 6:31:15 AM PST
It's so frustrating to see this ingredient used everyone when it is clear that it can cause problems and isn't needed. I've started baking without any kind of gums and think it is totally possible.

 
Richard
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said this on
13 May 2012 11:02:52 AM PST
The article stated that the growth medium for xanthan gum is corn based but Wikipedia says the growth medium is usually wheat, corn or soy based, so the author shouldn't say it's just corn based. Also, they may have a whole bunch of possible growth mediums in addition to wheat, corn, and soy based. Wikipedia just said these are the ones most commonly used.

 
Richard
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said this on
13 May 2012 12:36:33 PM PST
I previously posted here in response to this article that the growth mediums for xanthan gum are not only just corn based. I noticed that the author had also considered the possibility that tapioca might have been the problem and I think it's worth pointing out that some people have reported that tapioca has caused them to have bloating,headaches, and stomach issues. I haven't read anything else from this author (Wendy Cohan) except for this article and the three star rating I chose for this article applies to this article only and does not in any way reflect on anything else the author (Wendy Cohan) has written, done, or said and is not a comment or reflection on the way she practices her profession. I say this because the author (Wendy Cohan) may have written, said, or done things I disagree with and I don't want to endorse in any way something wrong. I wouldn't have even chosen a star rating but I wasn't able to leave a comment without rating the article.

 
Laura
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said this on
19 Jun 2012 3:07:33 PM PST
I have similarly just discovered a sensitivity to xanthan gum after making a delicious gluten-free pizza dough and eating pizza for the first time in months! There was nothing else in the pizza, dough or toppings, that I could have reacted to, and my gut tells me it's the gum.

I found an article on using flax and chia instead of xanthan gum a while back - now I think it's time to give it a try!

 
Teresa Challender
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said this on
29 Jun 2012 2:06:08 PM PST
I found this article while trying to track down what I'm reacting to in my gluten-free cooking. I've been gluten-free for several years, and just recently tried baking gluten-free.

I'd been thinking sorghum flour, but now I'm really thinking xanthan gum. Mostly because of my occasional reaction to other gluten-free products that had mystified me -- salad dressings, candy, ice cream -- now I may have my answer.

I'm also now very suspicious that I may not have a gluten sensitivity at all. I'm going to go xantham gum free/home cooking for a while, see if I get my stomach back, then try a homemade bread, and see what happens.

Gah! What are the processed food people DOING to our foods!?

 
Beth
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said this on
27 Oct 2012 12:01:26 AM PST
I am allergic to or intolerant of ALL the gums used in foods, cosmetics, drugs, etc., as well as the gluten, also proplylene glycol, soy, all plant estrogens, etc., which are also in most of the above. I can eat creams of any kind or use most boy creams, also tartrates, and many more items. It seems like there is something in everything that is either allergenic or toxic, but they don't put these things in animal foods, etc. I guess the FDA and pharmaceuticals and chemical plants don't give a fig about humans!

 
Lauren Haag
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said this on
05 Dec 2012 7:53:07 PM PST
I have a severe allergy to xanthan gum and so does my sister. Thank god we discovered it!! Yet our symptoms are totally different. Within minutes of digesting, we start getting congested and very phlegmy. If too much is digested, we get a down right cold by the next morning! It's so frustrating because it is literally in almost everything! It's so annoying too how it's in all gluten-free stuff! It's straight up poison!

 
Erin
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said this on
10 Oct 2013 8:01:13 PM PST
Hi! How did you discover it was the gum? I've been trying to be gluten and dairy free for 5 years, but am now suspecting it's corn, sulfites or some kind of gum. I"m still having headaches, stuffy nose, and cold like symptoms. I just don't even know who to ask for help now, because my doctors have never been able to give me any answers. Thanks for any insight you can provide!

 
Lisa
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said this on
26 Jan 2013 2:12:02 PM PST
THANK YOU!!!!! I am not celiac but do have an intolerance for wheat gluten, corn and soy. This now makes sense why I was having issues with my baked breads! I just bought a new batch of xantham gun also, UGH. Due to the derivative corn, this makes so much sense. I wish I had known that from the start. It is funny that some recipes that I follow tell you that if you are allergic to corn to substitute arrowroot instead of cornstarch, but then still have the xanthan gum in the recipe. Thank you again for this wonderful information.

 
Robyn
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said this on
20 Feb 2013 10:19:38 PM PST
Xanthum gum leaves me aching from head to toe. It doesn't just replicate gluten in recipes, it replicates gluten in me!

 
Jan
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said this on
26 Mar 2013 1:50:24 PM PST
My fibromyalgia doctor Elisa blood tested me for allergens because fibro patients have leaky guts. Xanthan gum was a big one and I found when I eat it, it makes me ache all over, joint pain. It is in everything it seems!

 
Amber
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said this on
16 Jun 2013 12:59:33 AM PST
I was fortunate enough to find that it isn't uncommon to have a sensitivity to xanthan gum early in my gluten-free journey. I react more severely immediately to it than to gluten. (Gluten is a much longer, uglier process.) You can use psyllium husk instead of the gums. It works great!

 
deb
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said this on
13 Aug 2013 4:53:19 PM PST
My daughter has celiac disease and we, by process of elimination, also discovered her corn allergy. What is extremely interesting is that she is able to have organic corn, but is doubled over and almost vomiting when she has corn that isn't organic. I've learned many with gluten issues also suffer when eating corn. My guess is that the GI tract is already irritated and then consuming GMO corn exacerbates the irritation since the pesticide in it is meant to destroy an insect's digestive tract.

 
Julie Thomson
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said this on
25 Aug 2013 8:04:55 PM PST
Check out Nourishing Meals by Alison Segresten and Tom Malterre, they have a blog too called Healing with Whole Foods. They advocate for healthy whole foods and all baked goods including bread recipes that are xanthum gum- and guar gum-free.

 
Margie R!
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said this on
31 Aug 2013 5:16:14 AM PST
I am a self diagnosed wheat/gluten intolerant person who had stomach problems since age 16. Discoveries came at age 57 when I felt like a million $'s taking carbs out and utlimately, wheat/gluten based products from my diet. I knew "gluten-free" pastas and baking didn't sit well with me so I avoided them until the past month. Trying a gluten free bread last weekend caused me fast and severe reactions-sore throat/tongue, headache, nausea and diarrhea. I listed the ingredients of the bread. This weekend I had a chili sauce that I used to be able to eat and got hit with the same symptoms. I logged the ingredients and the common culprit is Xanthan Gum. I appreciate this article and the posts. Great knowing I am not alone. Now a new ingredient to watch for.....

 
Loren
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said this on
22 Sep 2013 6:40:43 AM PST
Check out Gluten-Free Girl, she has replaced all the gums in her recipes with a mixture of psyllium, chia, and flax!

 
Nancy Blondin
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said this on
17 Oct 2013 6:10:20 AM PST
Bob's Red Mill brand (from a blog on their website) says that their Xanthan gum contains no corn products, but it is made from glucose derived from Wheat starch, supposedly gluten free, but for those sensitive to gluten, I would say that coming from wheat would be a clear reason to avoid it.

 
Nick J
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said this on
21 Oct 2013 11:17:29 AM PST
I had suspected and avoided Xanthan Gum for a while having been wheat free since my last Crohn's operation in 2008. I find Genius bread gives me no adverse reactions and has good taste and texture. They use psyllium husk powder but not xanthan Gum.
Wanting to be sure of this, I baked a yeast free loaf today, with the now infamous xanthan and consumed several slices. Delicious, but I am paying the price with symptoms similar to if I had consumed wheat. I may be in for a long night.
For years I have shunned yeast because I thought I had an intolerance. Perhaps I was a little hasty? I'll refrain from testing that hypothesis until next Monday.

 
Michele Saranovich
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said this on
03 Jan 2014 1:58:55 PM PST
The comments really tell the story here. All gum additives are evil. I am very allergic to any gum and have really been impacted by their addition to foods. I believe they are being used due to concern over gluten allergies. But I think that they are equally bad for people. I hope that food manufacturers start to realize this and wonder if we can have an impact upon what is added to food. Any ideas?

 
tirsden
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said this on
02 Mar 2014 2:32:43 AM PST
Thank you for posting this! I was noticing my GF baking mixes were setting me off like a wheat reaction, and fast. I'm fine with GF flours that are just one ingredient (the flour) and pasta that is just one or two ingredients (the flour and maybe salt or something simple and obvious like that). But yeah, after reading the comment about one brand getting their xanthan gum specifically from wheat... *facepalm* come on food industry! And that's the gluten-free food industry! What sucks is, I also have a ton of other allergies including dairy, soy, and all the migraine triggers, and some other random crap. At this point I'm pretty much declaring myself allergic to "food" because what I'm left that is edible just seems to screw me up the least. But I digress... thank you, and my digestive tract thanks you... or it will, once it's done agonizing over the gluten-free cupcakes I made myself for dinner.

 
Jean
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said this on
26 Mar 2014 12:27:05 PM PST
I read a lot of the comments, I'm not sure if anyone mentioned that there are lots of gums in commercially prepared ice cream. I can't eat ice cream or soft serve, that has xanthem gum in it. I get severe upper GI cramping and bloting after eating ice cream with xanthem gum.

 
Zoe
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said this on
26 Apr 2014 2:27:06 PM PST
Thank you for your story. I haven't had much luck with gluten free products containing xanthan gum. (bloating, gas and fluid retention). Recently I tried Betty Crocker all purpose gluten free rice flour blend and was pleasantly surprised that it tasted great and there were no ill effects. Its ingredients are rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, guar gum and salt. It also says it may contain soy ingredients. I stay away from soy too but had no problem.

 
L Fletcher
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said this on
02 Sep 2014 9:31:08 AM PST
I too get a stomach ache after eating baked goods with this ingredient.
From an article I read:
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.
You can google Chris Kessler, his article Harmful or Harmless: Xanthan Gum

 
joni
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said this on
27 Feb 2015 9:51:30 AM PST
I have been experimenting with pectin instead of xanthan. So far it is working out great!

 
gigi
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said this on
17 Oct 2015 11:47:08 AM PST
I'm disheartened how many products contain xanthan gum and other gums. It's out of control. It took me years to discover the problem to my severe reactions. I believe this is going to continue to be a huge problem!

 
Susan
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said this on
28 Aug 2016 10:09:39 AM PST
I used Xanthan as a "thickener" for home-made (supposedly natural) deodorant. After a few times using it I started itching, but anti-histamine didn't help. After several weeks I went to the dermatologist who told me that my home-made deoderant was causing the problems. I threw most of it away, but kept one bottle in my sauna-bag. Yesterday I used it and am itching all over. I´m not sure this has anything to do with celiac, but it does go to show, that xanthan is not a good choice for anyone with ANY sensitivities.




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