Xanthan gum is a food and medical additive with bulk-forming qualities. The product was discovered in the 1960s by the Department of Agriculture during research of biopolymers. The side effects are not severe when used properly according dosage directions.
Xanthan gum is created through the mixture of fermented sugar and certain bacteria. It is similar to cellulose, with additional trisacharides. The resulting product is a gel that is slimy in appearance.
Xanthan gum is used in the production of medicine and also as a gluten-free food additive. It creates a bulk-type laxative used in the treatment of constipation. In foods it is used as a thickening agent and fat substitute to produce a full feeling. Xanthan gum lowers blood sugar and cholesterol in diabetic patients, according to WebMD.com.
Side effects of xanthan gum include excessive gas production and bloating. Exposure to the powder may cause lung and breathing problems along with flu-like symptoms.
Do not use xanthan gum if you are pregnant or nursing a child. It is also not recommended for patients with appendicitis, intestinal stenosis or blockage of the bowel. Xanthan gum is a bulk laxative and requires additional water intake to prevent problems.
The World Health Organization lists 15 grams a day as the safe maximum dose of xanthan gum. Diabetic patients should limit their consumption to 12 grams a day.