GUAR GUM Overview Information
Guar gum is a fiber from the seed of the guar plant.
Guar gum is used as a laxative. It is also used for treating diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), obesity, and diabetes; for reducing cholesterol; and for preventing “hardening of the arteries” (atherosclerosis).
In foods and beverages, guar gum is used as a thickening, stabilizing, suspending, and binding agent.
In manufacturing, guar gum is used as a binding agent in tablets, and as a thickening agent in lotions and creams.
How does it work?
Guar gum is a fiber that normalizes the moisture content of the stool, absorbing excess liquid in diarrhea, and softening the stool in constipation. It also might help decrease the amount of cholesterol and glucose that is absorbed in the stomach and intestines.
There is some interest in using guar gum for weight loss because it expands in the intestine, causing a sense of fullness. This may decrease appetite.
Possibly Effective for:
- Constipation. Taking guar gum by mouth appears to relieve constipation in some people.
- Diarrhea. Adding a specific guar gum product (Benefiber by Novartis Nutrition) to tube feeding formula given to critical care patients may shorten episodes of diarrhea and reduce the number of liquid stools. This guar gum product also appears to shorten episodes of diarrhea in children with diarrhea. However, guar gum does not seem to improve diarrhea in adults with cholera.
- High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia). Taking guar gum seems to lower cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol. Guar gum and pectin, taken with small amounts of insoluble fiber, also lower total and “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, but don't affect “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol or other blood fats called triglycerides.
- High blood pressure (hypertension). Taking guar gum with each meal might reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure. However, the effects of guar gum seem to be less than the effects of psyllium husk.
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Taking guar gum by mouth might reduce stomach pain and improve bowel function and quality of life in people with IBS.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Weight loss. Taking guar gum by mouth does not seem to help people lose weight.
- Preventing diarrhea due to cancer treatment (chemotherapy). Early research suggests that adding guar gum to the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG does not reduce diarrhea in people receiving cancer treatment with the medication 5-fluorouracil.
- Diabetes. Some early research suggests that taking guar gum with meals might lower post-meal blood sugar levels in people with type 1 diabetes. The effectiveness of guar gum in type 2 diabetes is unclear, as research in this area has been conflicting.
- Liver disorder in pregnancy (intrahepatic cholestasis). Early research suggests that taking a specific granulated guar gum product (Guarem) does not reduce itching or improve liver function in pregnant women with a specific liver disorder called intrahepatic cholestasis.
- Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis).
- Other conditions.
GUAR GUM Side Effects & Safety
Guar gum is LIKELY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth with at least 8 ounces of liquid. The water is important because it reduces the chance of choking or developing a blockage in the intestine.
Side effects include increased gas production, diarrhea, and loose stools. These side effects usually decrease or disappear after several days of use. High doses of guar gum or not drinking enough fluid with the dose of guar gum can cause blockage of the esophagus and the intestines.
Special Precautions & Warnings:Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Taking guar gum during pregnancy in typical amounts is POSSIBLY SAFE. But not enough is known about the safety of taking guar gum during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Diabetes: Guar gum might lower blood sugar levels in some people. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use guar gum.
Gastrointestinal (GI) obstruction: Don’t take guar gum if you have a condition that causes obstruction or narrowing of your esophagus or intestine.
Low blood pressure: Guar gum might lower blood pressure. In theory, taking guar gum might make blood pressure become too low in people with low blood pressure.
Surgery: Because guar gum might affect blood glucose levels, there is a concern that it might interfere with blood glucose control during and after surgery. Stop taking guar gum at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.
Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination
- Ethinyl estradiol interacts with GUAR GUM
Ethinyl estradiol is a form of estrogen that's in some estrogen products and birth control pills. Guar gum can decrease how much ethinyl estradiol the body absorbs. Taking guar gum along with estrogen-containing medicines might decrease the effectiveness of estrogen.
- Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs) interacts with GUAR GUM
Guar gum might decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking guar gum along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.
Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glipizide (Glucotrol), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.
- Metformin (Glucophage) interacts with GUAR GUM
Guar gum can decrease how much metformin the body absorbs. Taking guar gum along with metformin can decrease the effectiveness of metformin.
- Penicillin (Penicillin VK, Pen VK, Veetids) interacts with GUAR GUM
Guar gum can decrease how much penicillin the body absorbs. Taking guar gum along with penicillin can decrease the ability of penicillin to fight infection.
Minor Interaction Be watchful with this combination
- Digoxin (Lanoxin) interacts with GUAR GUM
Some people worry that guar gum can decrease how much digoxin the body absorbs. But it is unlikely that guar gum will significantly affect digoxin absorption.
GUAR GUM Dosing
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For constipation: 12 grams per day. Start with a small dose of 4 grams per day and increase the dose slowly over time to limit unwanted gastrointestinal (GI) side effects.
- For diabetes: 15 grams per day.
- For high cholesterol: 15 grams per day of guar gum plus pectin in combination with 5 grams insoluble fiber.
- For irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): 5 grams of partially hydrolyzed guar gum (PHGG). PHGG is guar gum that has been chemically treated to make it dissolve in liquids and keep it from being broken down by acid or heat.