GALACTO-OLIGOSACCHARIDES

OTHER NAME(S):

Galactooligosaccharides.

Overview

Overview Information

Galacto-oligosaccharides are made up of plant sugars linked in chains. They are taken from dairy products, beans, and certain root vegetables. People use these sugars to make medicine.

Galacto-oligosaccharides are used for hay fever (allergic rhinitis), asthma, itchy skin (eczema), infantcolic, colon and rectal cancer, constipation, Crohn’s disease, diarrhea, digestive disorders, flu, food allergies, infant development, irritable bowel syndrome, osteoporosis, a bowel disease called ulcerative colitis, and a condition called pouchitis, which can develop after surgery for ulcerative colitis.

Galacto-oligosaccharides are also used as prebiotics. Prebiotics act as food for “good” bacteria in the intestine. Don't confuse prebiotics with probiotics such as lactobacillus, bifidobacteria, and saccharomyces, which are live organisms that are good for health. People sometimes take probiotics by mouth to increase the number in their intestine.

In foods, galacto-oligosaccharides are used as a sweetener.

How does it work?

Galacto-oligosaccharides pass undigested into the colon where they increase bowel mass and promote growth of certain bacteria that are thought to be beneficial.
Uses

Uses & Effectiveness?

Possibly Effective for

  • Scaly, itchy skin (eczema). Some research shows that feeding infants at risk for allergy galacto-oligosaccharides and probiotics decreases the risk of developing eczema by the age of 2 years. Also, feeding newborns at risk for eczema formula containing galacto-oligosaccharides and fructo-oligosaccharides appears to reduce the risk of developing eczema. However, other research shows that feeding healthy infants a formula containing galacto-oligosaccharides does not affect the risk of developing eczema.
  • Colic. Research shows that feeding infants with colic a formula that contains galacto-oligosaccharides and fructo-oligosaccharides reduces the number of colic episodes compared to control formula plus the drug simethicone.

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Hay fever (allergic rhinitis). Some research shows that feeding infants at risk for allergy a combination of galacto-oligosaccharides and probiotics does not reduce the risk of developing hay fever by the age of 2 years.
  • Asthma. Some research shows that feeding infants at risk for allergy a combination of galacto-oligosaccharides and probiotics does not reduce the risk of developing asthma by the age of 2 years.
  • Food allergies. Some research shows that feeding infants at risk for allergy a combination of galacto-oligosaccharides and probiotics does not reduce the risk of developing food allergies by the age of 2 years.
  • Infant development. Research shows that adding galacto-oligosaccharides to infant formula does not affect how quickly a healthy infant gains weight or increases in length.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Constipation. Some research shows that eating yogurt containing prunes, galacto-oligosaccharides, and linseed may relieve constipation. However, other research shows that eating yogurt containing only galacto-oligosaccharides does not relieve constipation.
  • Colon and rectal cancer.
  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Flu.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • A bowel disease called ulcerative colitis.
  • A condition called pouchitis, which can develop after surgery for ulcerative colitis.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of galacto-oligosaccharides for these uses.

Side Effects

Side Effects & Safety

Galacto-oligosaccharides are POSSIBLY SAFE when taken in doses of less than 20 grams per day. They can cause intestinal gas (flatulence), bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Galacto-oligosaccharides are POSSIBLY SAFE when taken in doses of less than 4.5 grams per day beginning at 25 weeks gestation and continuing until delivery. There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking galacto-oligosaccharides if you are breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Galacto-oligosaccharides are POSSIBLY SAFE when added to formula at concentrations of less than or equal to 8 grams/L.

“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Galacto-oligosaccharides might cause the immune system to become more active. This might increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have an auto-immune condition, it’s best to avoid using galacto-oligosaccharides as medicine until more is known.

Interactions

Interactions?

We currently have no information for GALACTO-OLIGOSACCHARIDES Interactions.

Dosing

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For preventing eczema in children: 20 drops of syrup containing 0.8 grams of galacto-oligosaccharides, along with a capsule of probiotics, daily for 6 months; formula containing 0.8 grams/L of galacto-oligosaccharides and fructo-oligosaccharides daily as needed for 6 months.
  • For colic: formula containing 8 grams/L of a mixture of galacto-oligosaccharides (90%) and fructo-oligosaccharides (10%) daily as needed for 2 weeks.

View References

REFERENCES:

  • Bakker-Zierikzee AM, Tol EA, Kroes H, et al. Faecal sIgA secretion in infants fed on pre- or probiotic infant formula. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2006;17(2):134-140. View abstract.
  • Boehm G, Stahl B. Oligosaccharides from milk. J Nutr 2007;137(3 Suppl 2):847S-849S. View abstract.
  • Cheah PY. Hypotheses for the etiology of colorectal cancer--an overview. Nutr Cancer 1990;14(1):5-13. View abstract.
  • Coppa GV, Pierani P, Zampini L, et al. Characterization of oligosaccharides in milk and feces of breast-fed infants by high-performance anion-exchange chromatography. Adv Exp Med Biol 2001;501:307-314. View abstract.
  • Djouzi Z, Andrieux C. Compared effects of three oligosaccharides on metabolism of intestinal microflora in rats inoculated with a human faecal flora. Br J Nutr 1997;78(2):313-324. View abstract.
  • Fanaro S, Boehm G, Garssen J, et al. Galacto-oligosaccharides and long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides as prebiotics in infant formulas: a review. Acta Paediatr Suppl 2005;94(449):22-26. View abstract.
  • Guarner F, Casellas F, Borruel N, et al. Role of microecology in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. Eur J Clin Nutr 2002;56 Suppl 4:S34-S38. View abstract.
  • Ito M, Deguchi Y, Matsumoto K, et al. Influence of galactooligosaccharides on the human fecal microflora. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 1993;39(6):635-640. View abstract.
  • Kukkonen K, Savilahti E, Haahtela T, et al. Probiotics and prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides in the prevention of allergic diseases: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007;119(1):192-198. View abstract.
  • Macfarlane S, Macfarlane GT, Cummings JH. Review article: prebiotics in the gastrointestinal tract. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2006;24(5):701-714. View abstract.
  • Moro G, Arslanoglu S, Stahl B, et al. A mixture of prebiotic oligosaccharides reduces the incidence of atopic dermatitis during the first six months of age. Arch Dis Child 2006;91(10):814-819. View abstract.
  • Moro GE, Stahl B, Fanaro S, et al. Dietary prebiotic oligosaccharides are detectable in the faeces of formula-fed infants. Acta Paediatr Suppl 2005:27-30. View abstract.
  • Nagengast FM, Grubben MJ, van Munster IP. Role of bile acids in colorectal carcinogenesis. Eur J Cancer 1995;31A(7-8):1067-1070. View abstract.
  • Roberfroid MB. Health benefits of non-digestible oligosaccharides. Adv Exp Med Biol 1997;427:211-219. View abstract.
  • Rycroft CE, Jones MR, Gibson GR, Rastall RA. A comparative in vitro evaluation of the fermentation properties of prebiotic oligosaccharides. J Appl Microbiol 2001;91(5):878-887. View abstract.
  • Sairanen U, Piirainen L, Nevala R, Korpela R. Yoghurt containing galacto-oligosaccharides, prunes and linseed reduces the severity of mild constipation in elderly subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 2007;61:1423-8. View abstract.
  • Savino F, Palumeri E, Castagno E, et al. Reduction of crying episodes owing to infantile colic: A randomized controlled study on the efficacy of a new infant formula. Eur J Clin Nutr 2006;60(11):1304-1310. View abstract.
  • Shadid R, Haarman M, Knol J, et al. Effects of galactooligosaccharide and long-chain fructooligosaccharide supplementation during pregnancy on maternal and neonatal microbiota and immunity--a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86(5):1426-1437. View abstract.
  • Sonoyama K, Watanabe H, Watanabe J, et al. Allergic airway eosinophilia is suppressed in ovalbumin-sensitized Brown Norway rats fed raffinose and alpha-linked galactooligosaccharide. J Nutr 2005;135(3):538-543. View abstract.
  • Teuri U, Korpela R. Galacto-oligosaccharides relieve constipation in elderly people. Ann Nutr Metab 1998;42(6):319-327. View abstract.
  • Teuri U, Vapaatalo H, Korpela R. Fructooligosaccharides and lactulose cause more symptoms in lactose maldigesters and subjects with pseudohypolactasia than in control lactose digesters. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69(5):973-979. View abstract.
  • van den Heuvel EG, Schoterman MH, Muijs T. Transgalactooligosaccharides stimulate calcium absorption in postmenopausal women. J Nutr 2000;130(12):2938-2942. View abstract.
  • van den Heuvel EG, Schoterman MH, Muijs T. Transgalactooligosaccharides stimulate calcium absorption in postmenopausal women. J Nutr 2000;130(12):2938-2942. View abstract.
  • van Dokkum W, Wezendonk B, Srikumar TS, van den Heuvel EG. Effect of nondigestible oligosaccharides on large-bowel functions, blood lipid concentrations and glucose absorption in young healthy male subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 1999;53(1):1-7. View abstract.
  • Van Munster IP, Nagengast FM. The role of carbohydrate fermentation in colon cancer prevention. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl 1993;200:80-86. View abstract.
  • Veereman G. Pediatric applications of inulin and oligofructose. J Nutr 2007;137(11 Suppl):2585S-2589S. View abstract.
  • Veereman-Wauters G. Application of prebiotics in infant foods. Br J Nutr 2005;93 Suppl 1:S57-S60. View abstract.
  • Vos AP, Haarman M, Buco A, et al. A specific prebiotic oligosaccharide mixture stimulates delayed-type hypersensitivity in a murine influenza vaccination model. Int Immunopharmacol 2006;6(8):1277-1286. View abstract.
  • Wijnands MV, Appel MJ, Hollanders VM, Woutersen RA. A comparison of the effects of dietary cellulose and fermentable galacto-oligosaccharide, in a rat model of colorectal carcinogenesis: fermentable fibre confers greater protection than non-fermentable fibre in both high and low fat backgrounds. Carcinogenesis 1999;20(4):651-656. View abstract.
  • Wisker E. [Probiotics]. Zentralbl Gynakol 2003;125(12):475-479. View abstract.
  • Zentek J, Marquart B, Pietrzak T. Intestinal effects of mannanoligosaccharides, transgalactooligosaccharides, lactose and lactulose in dogs. J Nutr 2002;132(6 Suppl 2):1682S-1684S. View abstract.
  • Ziegler E, Vanderhoof JA, Petschow B, et al. Term infants fed formula supplemented with selected blends of prebiotics grow normally and have soft stools similar to those reported for breast-fed infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2007;44(3):359-364. View abstract.
  • Bakker-Zierikzee AM, Tol EA, Kroes H, et al. Faecal sIgA secretion in infants fed on pre- or probiotic infant formula. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2006;17(2):134-140. View abstract.
  • Boehm G, Stahl B. Oligosaccharides from milk. J Nutr 2007;137(3 Suppl 2):847S-849S. View abstract.
  • Cheah PY. Hypotheses for the etiology of colorectal cancer--an overview. Nutr Cancer 1990;14(1):5-13. View abstract.
  • Coppa GV, Pierani P, Zampini L, et al. Characterization of oligosaccharides in milk and feces of breast-fed infants by high-performance anion-exchange chromatography. Adv Exp Med Biol 2001;501:307-314. View abstract.
  • Djouzi Z, Andrieux C. Compared effects of three oligosaccharides on metabolism of intestinal microflora in rats inoculated with a human faecal flora. Br J Nutr 1997;78(2):313-324. View abstract.
  • Fanaro S, Boehm G, Garssen J, et al. Galacto-oligosaccharides and long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides as prebiotics in infant formulas: a review. Acta Paediatr Suppl 2005;94(449):22-26. View abstract.
  • Guarner F, Casellas F, Borruel N, et al. Role of microecology in chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. Eur J Clin Nutr 2002;56 Suppl 4:S34-S38. View abstract.
  • Ito M, Deguchi Y, Matsumoto K, et al. Influence of galactooligosaccharides on the human fecal microflora. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 1993;39(6):635-640. View abstract.
  • Kukkonen K, Savilahti E, Haahtela T, et al. Probiotics and prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharides in the prevention of allergic diseases: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2007;119(1):192-198. View abstract.
  • Macfarlane S, Macfarlane GT, Cummings JH. Review article: prebiotics in the gastrointestinal tract. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2006;24(5):701-714. View abstract.
  • Moro G, Arslanoglu S, Stahl B, et al. A mixture of prebiotic oligosaccharides reduces the incidence of atopic dermatitis during the first six months of age. Arch Dis Child 2006;91(10):814-819. View abstract.
  • Moro GE, Stahl B, Fanaro S, et al. Dietary prebiotic oligosaccharides are detectable in the faeces of formula-fed infants. Acta Paediatr Suppl 2005:27-30. View abstract.
  • Nagengast FM, Grubben MJ, van Munster IP. Role of bile acids in colorectal carcinogenesis. Eur J Cancer 1995;31A(7-8):1067-1070. View abstract.
  • Roberfroid MB. Health benefits of non-digestible oligosaccharides. Adv Exp Med Biol 1997;427:211-219. View abstract.
  • Rycroft CE, Jones MR, Gibson GR, Rastall RA. A comparative in vitro evaluation of the fermentation properties of prebiotic oligosaccharides. J Appl Microbiol 2001;91(5):878-887. View abstract.
  • Sairanen U, Piirainen L, Nevala R, Korpela R. Yoghurt containing galacto-oligosaccharides, prunes and linseed reduces the severity of mild constipation in elderly subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 2007;61:1423-8. View abstract.
  • Savino F, Palumeri E, Castagno E, et al. Reduction of crying episodes owing to infantile colic: A randomized controlled study on the efficacy of a new infant formula. Eur J Clin Nutr 2006;60(11):1304-1310. View abstract.
  • Shadid R, Haarman M, Knol J, et al. Effects of galactooligosaccharide and long-chain fructooligosaccharide supplementation during pregnancy on maternal and neonatal microbiota and immunity--a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Am J Clin Nutr 2007;86(5):1426-1437. View abstract.
  • Sonoyama K, Watanabe H, Watanabe J, et al. Allergic airway eosinophilia is suppressed in ovalbumin-sensitized Brown Norway rats fed raffinose and alpha-linked galactooligosaccharide. J Nutr 2005;135(3):538-543. View abstract.
  • Teuri U, Korpela R. Galacto-oligosaccharides relieve constipation in elderly people. Ann Nutr Metab 1998;42(6):319-327. View abstract.
  • Teuri U, Vapaatalo H, Korpela R. Fructooligosaccharides and lactulose cause more symptoms in lactose maldigesters and subjects with pseudohypolactasia than in control lactose digesters. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69(5):973-979. View abstract.
  • van den Heuvel EG, Schoterman MH, Muijs T. Transgalactooligosaccharides stimulate calcium absorption in postmenopausal women. J Nutr 2000;130(12):2938-2942. View abstract.
  • van den Heuvel EG, Schoterman MH, Muijs T. Transgalactooligosaccharides stimulate calcium absorption in postmenopausal women. J Nutr 2000;130(12):2938-2942. View abstract.
  • van Dokkum W, Wezendonk B, Srikumar TS, van den Heuvel EG. Effect of nondigestible oligosaccharides on large-bowel functions, blood lipid concentrations and glucose absorption in young healthy male subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr 1999;53(1):1-7. View abstract.
  • Van Munster IP, Nagengast FM. The role of carbohydrate fermentation in colon cancer prevention. Scand J Gastroenterol Suppl 1993;200:80-86. View abstract.
  • Veereman G. Pediatric applications of inulin and oligofructose. J Nutr 2007;137(11 Suppl):2585S-2589S. View abstract.
  • Veereman-Wauters G. Application of prebiotics in infant foods. Br J Nutr 2005;93 Suppl 1:S57-S60. View abstract.
  • Vos AP, Haarman M, Buco A, et al. A specific prebiotic oligosaccharide mixture stimulates delayed-type hypersensitivity in a murine influenza vaccination model. Int Immunopharmacol 2006;6(8):1277-1286. View abstract.
  • Wijnands MV, Appel MJ, Hollanders VM, Woutersen RA. A comparison of the effects of dietary cellulose and fermentable galacto-oligosaccharide, in a rat model of colorectal carcinogenesis: fermentable fibre confers greater protection than non-fermentable fibre in both high and low fat backgrounds. Carcinogenesis 1999;20(4):651-656. View abstract.
  • Wisker E. [Probiotics]. Zentralbl Gynakol 2003;125(12):475-479. View abstract.
  • Zentek J, Marquart B, Pietrzak T. Intestinal effects of mannanoligosaccharides, transgalactooligosaccharides, lactose and lactulose in dogs. J Nutr 2002;132(6 Suppl 2):1682S-1684S. View abstract.
  • Ziegler E, Vanderhoof JA, Petschow B, et al. Term infants fed formula supplemented with selected blends of prebiotics grow normally and have soft stools similar to those reported for breast-fed infants. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2007;44(3):359-364. View abstract.

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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

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