Guar gum is a water-soluble and gel-forming x,x soluble fiber derived from the guar bean (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba), an annual legume crop that is primarily cultivated in India and Pakistan, along with small quantities in the United States, Australia, and Africa. Guar gum is commonly found in foods and dietary supplements.
Guar gum is a prebiotic derived that has several potential health benefits, which are described in table 1.1.
|Table 1.1||Potential Health Benefits of Guar Gum|
Several clinical studies on adults demonstrate that supplementation with partially hydrolyzed guar gum increases stool frequency and alleviates straining and pain, relative to baseline. 4-12 grams daily for up to 8 weeks or 11 grams twice daily for up to 3 weeks are doses that have been studied x,x,x.
Small clinical studies in children with constipation indicate that taking guar gum 3 to 5 grams daily for 4 weeks or partially hydrolyzed guar gum 6 grams daily for 2 to 15 months moderately increases bowel movement frequency and decreases abdominal pain relative to baseline x,x.
|Diarrhea||Notes: Two clinical studies on intensive care unit patients indicate that adding 2% guar gum or 22 grams/L to enteral feeding formula decreases the number of liquid stools and the proportion of days with diarrhea by approximately 70% when compared with control enteral feeding formula x,x. |
A larger clinical trial in children with acute watery diarrhea caused by infections demonstrates that it reduces the duration of diarrhea by approximately 16 hours compared to a placebo x. Another clinical study involving children with persistent watery diarrhea demonstrates that adding 20 grams/L to a comminuted chicken diet for seven days increases the likelihood of diarrhea resolution by threefold compared to the chicken diet alone x.
|Hypercholesterolemia||Several small clinical trials in patients with hypercholesterolemia indicate that daily administration of 15-18 grams of guar gum in single or divided doses for up to 24 months reduces cholesterol levels relative to baseline levels or placebo x,x,x,x,x. |
Moreover, a meta-analysis of 25 small clinical studies in patients with hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, hypertension, or metabolic syndrome reveals that it reduces total cholesterol by approximately 20 mg/dL and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by approximately 17 mg/dL but does not reduce triglyceride levels when compared to controls. Subgroup analyses indicate that patients with hypercholesterolemia and those taking at least 15 grams daily experience more significant improvements in total and LDL cholesterol x.
Additional clinical evidence indicates that when combined with other dietary fibers, it can lower cholesterol levels. Taking 20 grams of a mixture containing guar gum, pectin, and a small amount of the insoluble fibers from soy, pea, and corn bran daily for 36 weeks reduces total, and LDL cholesterol levels but does not affect high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol or triglyceride levels x,x.
Taking a product containing guar gum and psyllium (Minolest) containing 16.5 grams per day for three months reduces total, and LDL cholesterol compared to placebo but does not significantly affect triglyceride levels x. Daily consumption of 15 grams of a combination of guar gum, psyllium, pectin, and carob gum appears to reduce total and LDL cholesterol when compared to baseline levels x.
|Hypertension||Several small clinical trials in patients with hypertension indicate that taking 7-10 grams of guar gum with each meal for up to 6 weeks reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure modestly when compared to placebo x,x,x. However, it does not appear to be as effective as psyllium husk for lowering blood pressure x.|
A meta-analysis of clinical trials in adults demonstrates that guar gum reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure by approximately 1 mm/Hg compared to a placebo or no treatment for 6 weeks to 6 months. However, a substantial number of patients included in these studies did not have hypertension at baseline. Subanalyses from the meta-analysis indicate that the effects of guar gum on blood pressure may be more pronounced in hypertensive patients x
|Inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS)||Taking 5-10 grams of guar gum daily for 12 weeks improves abdominal pain, bowel function, and quality of life in adults with IBS compared to a placebo or wheat bran x, x. |
A small clinical study involving 8-16-year-old children with chronic abdominal pain and IBS indicates that taking 5 grams of partially hydrolyzed guar gum daily for four weeks reduces symptom frequency and normalizes bowel movements compared to placebo, but does not alleviate abdominal pain x. However, another small clinical trial in children aged 1 to 18 years with IBS indicates that taking it for at least 6 to 8 weeks improves stool consistency and abdominal pain compared to baseline x.
|Autism||Taking partially hydrolyzed guar gum 6 grams per day for 2-15 months moderately improves irritability but not other behavioral measures compared to baseline x. Due to the absence of a control group, the validity of this finding is limited.|
|Anal Fissures||According to a small clinical study in patients with chronic anal fissures treated with topical application of glyceryl trinitrate, taking partially hydrolyzed guar gum 5 grams daily as maintenance therapy for a total of 10 months increases the success rate by 53% and decreases the risk for recurrence by 52% when compared with the control group x.|
|Type I Diabetes||Studies on patients with type 1 diabetes indicate that taking 5 grams of guar gum with meals four times per day for four to six weeks reduces postprandial glucose, insulin requirements, and serum total cholesterol levels compared to placebo in type 1 diabetic patients x,x.|
|Type II Diabetes|
Several small clinical studies suggest that taking 5-7.6 grams of guar gum with each meal for up to 48 weeks reduces blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes compared to baseline levels or placebo x,x,x,x,x. It was also found to reduce peak glucose concentration by 44 to 56%, resulting in improved glycemic control for diabetics, increased satiety, and weight loss x.
A meta-analysis of 11 small clinical studies involving patients with type 2 diabetes with or without hypercholesterolemia indicates that taking 5-30 grams of guar gum daily for up to six months decreases total cholesterol by approximately 20 mg/dL and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol by approximately 15 mg/dL. 20 grams or more per day appears to reduce triglyceride levels by approximately 13 mg/dL, whereas lower doses did not have a significant effect x. The improvements in glycemic response are likely dose-dependent.
|Influenza||Observational research in hospitalized patients found that taking 5.2 grams of partially hydrolyzed guar gum per day for the duration of a hospital stay is associated with a reduced risk of influenza compared to those who did not take guar gum. One additional case of influenza appears to be prevented for every fourteen patients who take guar gum versus placebo x.|
|Malnutrition-induced diarrhea||In a small clinical study involving children aged 6 to 36 months with acute watery diarrhea caused by malnutrition, adding 15 grams/L of guar gum to oral rehydration solution reduces the duration of diarrhea by approximately 18 hours compared to oral rehydration solution alone x.|
A small clinical study involving older females with postprandial hypotension demonstrates that taking 9 grams of guar gum with a meal reduces the risk of postprandial hypotension by 75% compared to placebo x. Another small clinical study in patients with type 2 diabetes demonstrates that taking 9 grams before a meal reduces the risk of postprandial decreases in blood pressure relative to baseline x.
|Small intestinal overgrowth of bacteria (SIBO)||According to a small clinical study involving patients with SIBO, taking guar gum 5 grams daily in conjunction with rifaximin 1200 mg daily for 10 days increases the likelihood of SIBO eradication by 37 to 40 percent when compared to rifaximin alone x.|
A systematic review of meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials involving overweight adults with additional risk factors for cardiovascular disease found that consumption of guar gum decreased body weight by 1.8 lbs (~0.81 kg) x. It has also shown efficacy at appetite reduction by 10% x, x, x .
In a review of the effects of regular intake of guar gum (2 g/day), guar gum reduced 20% daily energy intake likely by prolonging post-meal satiety x. In addition, it is important to note that the effects of dietary fiber like guar on body weight may be due to the influence of various gut hormones and enzymes that regulate energy intake, satiety, and/or pancreatic functions x.
|Multiple Sclerosis||Studies demonstrate that standard fiber diets (5%) do not offer protection against animal models of MS when compared to zero-fiber diets, whereas a diet high in the soluble fiber guar gum (30%), inhibited disease progression and prevented lymphocytic CNS infiltration [x].|
Of note, pectin, resistant starch, and inulin did not offer the same protection – providing evidence that the higher molecular weight dietary fiber has different effects on the immune system and neuroinflammation.
|Gut Dysbiosis||Guar gum increases by 100 to 1,000 percent the ratio of healthy to unhealthy gut flora x, x, x, x.|
Safety and Side Effects of Guar Gum Supplementation
The FDA recognizes guar gum as generally recognized as safe (GRAS), However, adverse effects occur with its use as described in Table 1.2
|Table 1.2||Potential Adverse Effects of Guar Gum Consumption|
|Obstruction||Guar gum can cause severe esophageal and small bowel obstruction when consumed with insufficient amounts of fluids [x]. Side effects can be minimized by gradually consuming more fiber-rich foods and drinking 3 liters of water per day.|
|Loose Stools||Diarrhea may occur but subsides within a few days.|
|Flatulence||Guar gum increases intestinal and gut gas production, leading to an increase in flatulence.|
Guar Gum Summary
• Guar gum is a water-soluble and gel-forming soluble fiber derived from the guar bean, primarily cultivated in India and Pakistan.
• Clinical studies on adults demonstrate that supplementation with partially hydrolyzed guar gum increases stool frequency and alleviates straining and pain.
• Guar gum may reduce cholesterol levels when combined with other dietary fibers, such as pectin or psyllium husk. It also appears to modestly reduce systolic & diastolic blood pressure in patients with hypertension but not as effectively as psyllium husk does.
• Taking 5-10 grams of guar daily for 12 weeks improves abdominal pain, bowel function & quality of life for those suffering from IBS compared to placebo or wheat bran.
• Studies suggest taking 5 – 7.6 grams of guars per meal can improve glycemic response by reducing peak glucose concentration by 44 – 56%, resulting in improved glycemic control for diabetics along with increased satiety & weight loss.
• Observational research found that taking partially hydrolyzed guar gum daily reduces the risk of influenza compared to those who did not take it.