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Xanthan Gum Side Effects

author image Ann Daniels
Ann Daniels has been a professional writer for more than 10 years. Her work has been published in many national health and wellness publications. Daniels holds a Master of Arts in communications from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Xanthan Gum Side Effects
A large bowl of xanthan gum. Photo Credit: Dendron/iStock/Getty Images

A bacteria-derived product, xanthan gum is commonly used as a thickening and stabilizing agent in both food and medicine. Because of its binding properties, xanthan gum can serve as a replacement for gluten in foods designed for people who suffer from celiac disease.

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Side Effects

Xanthan gum can cause migraines or skin irritation. Its side effects also include intestinal gas, flatulence, diarrhea and bloating. Increased exposure can make the symptoms worse. A 1990 report in the "Journal of Occupational Medicine" notes that people exposed to large amounts of xanthan gum powder, such as bakery workers, can experience flulike symptoms that include nose and throat irritation.

FDA Warnings

Parents and caregivers should avoid feeding their infants xanthan gum-based thickeners, products or food. A 2012 article in the “Journal of Pediatrics” noted U.S. Food and Drug Administration warnings that products containing xanthan gum have been linked to illnesses and deaths in infants. The FDA now requires that over-the-counter medications containing water-soluble gums, such as xanthan gum, must have warnings about choking on their packaging. Choking -- caused by esophageal obstruction and asphyxiation -- can occur when these medications are not taken with enough water.

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