Guar gum is an extract of the guar bean (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba). The plant is primarily grown in Pakistan and India. Guar gum is widely used as a food-thickening agent and as an ingredient in nutritional supplements.
Guar gum is considered a plant-based dietary fiber, meaning that it is the edible part of a plant that may otherwise be hard to digest and absorb in the intestines. Dietary fibers may help promote bowel movements and may reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
There is much evidence supporting the use of guar gum in reducing cholesterol levels. Guar gum may help enhance the function of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and may help people who have diarrhea, constipation, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Studies have also shown that guar gum may lower blood sugar following meals, as well as insulin levels in people with and without diabetes.
According to some research, guar gum may not be effective for weight loss. Following reports of side effects, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) moved to ban guar gum as a weight loss ingredient.
Commonly reported side effects associated with guar gum include stomach pain, diarrhea, and gassiness. Guar gum may also affect how the body absorbs drugs given at the same time, such as metformin and penicillin.
Benefiber®, C. tetragonolobus, Cal-Ban 3000®, cattle fodder, Choltrol®, cluster bean, cluster plant, clusterbean, Cyamopsis tetragonoloba, Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (L.) Taub., Cyamopsis tetragonoloba (L.) Taubert, Cyamopsis tetragonolobus, galactomannan, guaran, Guarem®, Guarina®, Indian cluster bean, Indische Büschelbohne (German), jaguar gum, M60, M90, M150, M175, Meyprofin®, Novafibra®, Novasource GI control®, soluble dietary fiber, Sunfiber®.
Selected combination products: Fiber Plan® (guar gum, psyllium husk, pectin, and locust bean gum); Minolest™ (containing guar gum and psyllium).
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
There is good scientific evidence showing that guar gum may help lower levels of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or "bad") cholesterol. More research is needed to determine the effectiveness of different guar gum treatments to maximize these benefits.
Some studies have reported that guar gum, especially chemically treated guar gum that is water soluble, may reduce diarrhea in both adults and children. Most trials used Benefiber® and used guar gum in addition to other treatments.
Numerous studies have shown that guar gum may be effective in reducing blood sugar levels in people with types 1 and 2 diabetes. However, results are not consistent, and more research is needed before further conclusions can be made.
Blood pressure control
Some studies suggest that guar gum may help control blood pressure. Further research is needed to better understand these findings.
Bowel function improvement
Like other dietary fibers, guar gum has been used to improve bowel function by stimulating the removal of waste and toxins from the body. However, there have been conflicting results as to the effectiveness of guar gum on constipation. High-quality studies evaluating guar gum for this condition and for improving bowel function are needed.
Studies have looked into whether guar gum may help pregnant women with blocked bile flow (cholestasis). Results have been mixed and evidence is still lacking for this benefit. Additional research is needed.
Many studies have looked into the potential blood sugar-lowering effects of guar gum in people with and without diabetes. Well-designed, long-term studies are needed before a conclusion can be made.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Guar gum may help improve bowel function, regulate bowel movements, and promote the removal of waste and toxins from the bowel and colon. It may be beneficial in reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in adults. Well-designed clinical trials are needed to confirm these findings.
Guar gum was believed to support weight loss by expanding in the stomach and reducing appetite. However, researchers reported that guar gum is not effective for this use and is associated with side effects. Following these reports, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) moved to ban guar gum as a weight loss ingredient.