Xylitol: Not as Sweet As It’s Cracked Up to Be

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist December 6, 2012

xylitolXylitol is truly the darling of sugar substitutes today. The American Dietetic Association touts use of xylitol as offering health benefits such as reduced glycemic response as compared with sucrose, increased absorption of B vitamins and calcium, and even a reduction in dental caries risk.

Consequently, people with blood sugar issues are flocking to processed foods containing xylitol as a way to satisfy that sweet tooth without the downside of exacerbating the risk factors for Metabolic Syndrome:  heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Even within the healthfood community, xylitol is almost universally considered a healthy substitute for sugar in particular because it doesn’t directly contribute toward the growth of intestinal yeasts aka Candida.

Have you noticed that the check out aisles at healthfood stores are typically loaded with chocolates and other sweets containing at least some xylitol?   The truth is that I have yet to talk with any healthy conscious person who suggests to me any downside to using xylitol other than the potential for intestinal cramps if you get too much.

Xylitol is Naturally Found in Nature

Xylitol is, after all, a naturally occurring substance.  Manufacturers of xylitol market it as derived from xylan, which is found in the fibers of many plants including berries, oats, beets, sugar cane and birch. Sounds pretty harmless.

The FDA has even granted xylitol GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status. You can’t get any safer than that, right?

How Xylitol is Manufactured

While it is true that xylitol is a naturally occurring substance, manufactured xylitol is another matter entirely.   Commercially available xylitol is produced by the industrialized process of sugar hydrogenation.   In order to hydrogenate anything, a catalyst is needed, and in the case of xylitol, Raney nickel is used which is a powdered nickel-aluminum alloy.

Can we say heavy metal residue?  Xylitol doesn’t seem quite so warm and fuzzy anymore, does it?

While there is currently no literature on any detrimental health effects of consuming hydrogenated sugar, it is important to note that hydrogenated fats and oils were used for many years before the very damaging effects to health became widely known.

Given the violent industrialized process that is required to produce a hydrogenated sugar like xylitol, it would seem wise to avoid it based on the very poor track record of hydrogenated foods in general!

Most Xylitol Comes from GMO Corn

While it is true that xylitol can be derived from the xylan of birch trees, xylan is also found in corn cobs.  It is much cheaper to use corn instead of birch bark to derive xylitol and so what do you think manufacturers prefer?   Corn of course.

Therefore, unless the label of a xylitol containing product specifically notes that it is from birch, beets or some other non GMO source, run of the mill corn derived xylitol is very likely from genetically modified corn.  This is the same problem as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) widely used in sodas and sports drinks.

You get a dose of GMOs with every sip!

Xylitol Contributes to Gut Imbalance 

Sugar alcohols like xylitol are not broken down in the stomach like other sweeteners.  Rather, they arrive intact into the intestines.

At that point, a process called “passive diffusion” takes place whereby the xylitol draws water into the bowels.  This results in only partial breakdown of the xylitol.  The unmetabolized portion ferments; the perfect environment for undesirable bacteria to grow.

And, while it is true that xylitol itself does not feed candida directly like sugar does and is even promoted as a useful part of the Candida Diet, the fermentation of undigested xylitol in the gut most definitely can exacerbate yeast problems, so don’t be fooled by that argument!

This is exactly why consuming xylitol can make some folks so gassy and even trigger cramping and diarrhea.  Gut pathogens having a heyday in your intestines give off a lot of smelly toxins!

 Other Little Known Problems with Xylitol

Xylitol can contribute to acid reflux problems so those who have issues in this area should avoid it for that reason alone.  Chronic acid reflux is a serious problem that can lead to cancer of the esophagus and larynx.

In addition, those who suffer from seizures of any kind should stay away from xylitol as it has been known to increase the frequency of epileptic attacks.

Enough Xylitol in Two Pieces of Gum to Kill a Rat

According to lab tests, a 100 gram rat can be killed by approximately 1.65 grams of xylitol about half the time.

Two little pieces of xylitol gum contain about .7 – 1 gram of xylitol – enough to probably kill your child’s pet rat.

Do you want your child chewing xylitol gum on a frequent basis even if preliminary research indicates that it may help prevent cavities?

Rami Nagel, author of Cure Tooth Decay, doesn’t even recommend xylitol gum for this purpose.  His research for any long term safety data on xylitol turned up the following:

“Epidemiology: No information found

Teratogenicity: No information found

Reproductive Effects: No information found

Mutagenicity: No information found

Neurotoxicity: No information found”

When Might Xylitol be Helpful?

Given all the problems that consumption of xylitol can trigger, it seems best to bypass use of this sugar substitute on a regular basis.

Can xylitol ever be helpful, however?

Potentially so.  The only time I personally would ever consider using xylitol is to help resolve a childhood ear or sinus infection in order to prevent the use of antibiotics.

There is evidence that xylitol can indeed help encourage a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria found in the ear canal and sinus cavities and that a therapeutic dose of xylitol can help resolve an infection in these areas quickly with no medication required.

One caveat:  If you are going to use xylitol sparingly and therapeutically (not as a food), make sure it does not come from a GMO source like corn!

 

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

Sources: Sugar Free Blues: Everything You Wanted to Know about Artificial Sweeteners

 Xylitol:  Is it Safe or Effective?

Cure Tooth Decay

 

Comments (365)

  1. Pingback: Simple Steps #3: Oh honey, honey, sugar, sugar

  2. A scientist from a non-GMO xylitol company sent me the following information:

    Hydrogenation occurs in nature and sugar alcohols in berries etc. are also hydrogenated starches. Of course, this is unrelated to hydrogenated oils and their very real dangers, since oils aren’t naturally hydrogenated. Is this an attempt to imply guilt by association?

    Xylitol is produced in countries that don’t allow GMO corn for human consumption; therefore the assertion that much is GMO is a wild guess unsupported by real world data.

    The fact that pets can’t safely use xylitol is meaningless for people. Some pets can’t eat chocolate either. So what? Assuming that these examples are somehow meaningful for human health without some explanation of how they would be is unscientific. Other foods that are harmful to dogs (ASPCA) include: avocado, bread dough, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, onions and garlic. By the same reasoning, people also need to avoid these foods if they need to avoid xylitol because of its toxicity to animals. Really?

    The safety data on xylitol is robust and it is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by health agencies around the world. Certainly, toxicity and cancer studies have been done, regardless of what an author claims to have not found.

    Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist
      Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist October 2, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      If you don’t worry about sugar hydrogenation, that’s your choice. Xylitol is still harmful to eat just by virtue of the fact that it rips gut balance to shreds by feeding pathogens and starving probiotics.

      Reply
  3. Tara Broms Shaw I should have clarified – I’m not a fan of using xylitol as a food, but I agree with Healthy Home Economist that used therapeutically or not as a food it can be ok. I still highly recommend Jack and Jill toothpaste especially since it has a 0 EWG rating. I think it’s a great toothpaste to start kids on!

    Reply
  4. Tara Broms Shaw via Facebook September 29, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Does that mean you don’t recommend Jack & Jill toothpaste anymore? I think I decided it’s impossible to find a good toothpaste for kids!

    Reply
  5. Your point about the hydrogenation of sugars possibly being the dangerous health equivalent of hydrogenation of fatty acids is really reaching. Partial hydrogenation of a long-chain fatty acid causes a double bond somewhere in the center, which can potentially give it a “trans-” (vs “cis-”) formation, causing the fatty acid to be more likely to block small blood vessels. Long-chain fatty acids are many, many carbons (18+), whereas simple sugars are 6 carbons in a ring, not in a chain, and xylitol is a 5-carbon sugar alcohol (which means it has an -OH group on it instead of a hydrogen, not that it’s alcoholic). I understand your concern about anything “artificial” (although it springs to mind that arsenic is plenty natural, but I would rather not consume any), but please remember that the plural of “anecdote” is NOT “data,”

    Reply
    • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist
      Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist September 28, 2014 at 12:21 pm

      The fact that xylitol contributes to a destroyed and imbalanced gut environment and feeds pathogens in the gut rather than beneficial flora is plenty enough reason for me to avoid it. :)

      Reply
    • Peer-reviewed published research has shown the contents of clogged heart arteries during bypass surgery is equivalent to margarine or hydrogenated oils. And the heart cannot heal itself. If Xylitol is dangerous, then it must take large quantities or specific allergies, specific sensitivites. I suffer Gulf War Illness, which means my heart is damaged and my gut is infected with no less than 3 specific chronic infections. I am sensitive to almost everything; and I can eat almost nothing for Lactose Intolerance, systemic fungus (in remission), and pancreatitis from a Hep B “cocktail” vaccine. I never eat hydrogenated oil. But I chew enough cinnamon Xylitol to clear my sinuses and my palette. It’s a substitute for brushing my teeth too many times per day. My gut has never reacted to 2 small bits of gum, as long as I avoid aspartame. And my gut, unlike my heart, can eventually heal from everything.

      Reply
      • @Beckie, if you see this – what you really need is to start using Prescript-Assist ~ Probiotic & Prebiotic Blend. If I ever heard of someone who desperately needs it is you. As for Xylatol, a friend with Lyme was told by her NMD to eat 2 tbsp. of it daily to bust biofilm cysts formed by borrelia and co-infections. Both of us are MTHFR mutated, mine works than hers but we both have to watch what we injest. I originally jumped on board with it (also struggling through tick borne illnesses). Still, after two days of just one tbsp. my kidneys feel odd. I might stick with Serrapeptase enzyme for cyst busting and just use Xylatol to sweeten a tea or two.

        Reply
  6. Pingback: Eating Tips » Health Benefits Of Eating Organic Now Foods Xylitol

  7. Pingback: Eating Tips » Benefits Of Eating Organic Xylitol

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  11. Pingback: What Is Healthy Dogs Eating Xylitol | About Food and Diet

    • I would like to know where you received the information that xylitol can trigger seizures in epileptics. I read this about dogs, not humans.

      Please remember people dogs can not eat the same foods as us. My dog is a husky and he isn’t supposed to eat certain berries and beets. Summarized up, we are different species with very different intestines.

      I have used a birch based xylitol for years. I have never had problems and I have IBS. I can’t eat to much of the xylitol or I do get diarrhea. HOWEVER, I also get diarrhea if I eat to much salad greens. Humans were not designed to survive off sugar so of course I don’t think you should eat the stuff out of its packaging. I do really like it for my tea, coffee, and the occasional baked good. I have never heard some of these arguments so I’m very interested on the studies to back them up.

      Reply
  12. Pingback: Eating Tips » Healthy Alternatives To Sweets

  13. Jennifer Esposito Fedrizzi via Facebook July 23, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Totally agree with you…. I wanted to share so other wonderful products that i am taking and using but wanted to get your approval first… I am trying to reach out to groups if individuals who are on the same path as myself… My family and i have been eating clean/organic for several years now… Please let me know if i can share… Thank you

    Reply
  14. Nicole White via Facebook July 23, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Any suggestion on safe chewing gum? I was using a brand with xylitol thinking it was a better choice than most. But now…..???

    Reply
  15. Natalie Mino via Facebook July 23, 2014 at 7:29 am

    I was using this everyday for a few years, and was having crazy gastrointestinal symptoms. I never thought it was the xylitol until I went a couple days without it and all of a sudden my tummy was feeling better! I haven’t used it since.

    Reply
  16. Pingback: Xylitol – Natural Base Sugar Alternative that actually tastes like sugar, can be used by diabetics. Sounds too good to be true | Kimsofit

  17. Pingback: What’s in my…toothpaste? Product comparison (Tea Tree Therapy vs. Tom’s of Maine) | I’d Rather Be Reading

  18. I would say, listen to your body. I have tried using granular birch xylitol many times, following a dentist’s regimen for upwards of several weeks hoping my body would adjust, but it always made me feel sick and nauseous, so I gave up. Who knows why, but there are clearly some people who have problems with it and never do tolerate it. Don’t beat your head against the wall if that’s you. You can still have healthy teeth without it. It’s not really a natural substance anyway. (yeah – it is found in our bodies at a metabolite – but in minute amounts ranging from 5-15g/day – so any amount used to sweeten is a huge increase compared to what is naturally present in the body).

    Reply
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  20. Kristin Kauffman via Facebook May 7, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Interesting…I got a recipe from youfor homemade toothpaste with this ingredient

    Reply
  21. Diane Boyer via Facebook May 7, 2014 at 11:59 am

    Wow, so glad to know. I thought it was ok to chew “sweetened” gum with it, but now no more.

    Reply
  22. Rita Gibson via Facebook May 7, 2014 at 9:32 am

    It also breaks up bio films which is useful to prevent cavities, ear infections and sinus infections. Bio film disruption may also be useful to repopulate the gut with healthier bacteria.

    Reply
  23. Dana Pittman via Facebook May 7, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Yes it is Lethal to dogs..mine almost died. He was in critical care but pulled through. He is only 6 pounds. Susan Claypopl, what does canned pumpkin do?

    Reply
  24. Lisa Gregory via Facebook May 7, 2014 at 2:35 am

    You haven’t made any recommendations for an alternative in the article. What do you suggest?

    Reply
  25. Brandi Shaw via Facebook May 7, 2014 at 2:29 am

    I use a birch one made in the US and have never had trouble. To each his own i guess, i wouk still recommend in toothpaste cus you don swallow it.

    Reply
  26. Chuck McKiernan via Facebook May 7, 2014 at 1:00 am

    My dentist wants me to use oral hygiene products with Xylitol to keep my teeth and mouth clean and in place of sugar and chewing gum. He also said Xylitol would kill all strep bacteria in the mouth, throat and nasal areas. I’m looking at the pile of unopened stuff he gave me as I type this.

    Reply
    • No, don’t worry about what she wrote. I had a search bring me to this page, and her arguments are poor. For example, feeds gut bacteria… uh, like a prebiotic… we have healthy gut bacteria, you know.

      Reply
      • Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist
        Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist June 2, 2014 at 7:53 am

        Feeds *pathogenic* gut bacteria, not beneficial probiotics. There are different kinds of but bacteria …. good AND bad.

        Reply
        • Sarah? Are you making stuff up? Or, were you the first to discover this factor? Xylitol feeds that bad bacteria in the gut? You mean its just as bad as sugar in the gut, but not in the mouth? What research can you cite, please?

          Reply
  27. Susan Claypool via Facebook May 7, 2014 at 12:22 am

    It’s also LETHAL to pets. My parents dog almost died after eating bread made with xylitol. Thankfully the vet knew her stuff and told my parents to give their dog canned pumpkin. It worked!

    Reply
  28. I do use the Xylo-Sweet that you show above, which does say that it is non-GMO … thank goodness! I know you feel that it is poison also, but it would be better to use one in your article that was more of what you are saying. Many things overdone are not healthy … I will look into it more.

    Reply
  29. youre an idiot and this website is a joke. do you even know what the definition of a catalyst is? stick to baking cookies and doing laundry. thanks.

    Reply
  30. Pingback: The Pantry Principle, excellent reference for the Real Food newbie | Real Food Houston

  31. Moderation. Our bodies can handle quite a lot. Its good to have awareness but it’s better not to be scared to eat.
    Personally I stick to 80/20 when it comes to healthy and things not so healthy.
    There’s plenty more harmful things in our every day life to our health than a little sweetener a few times a week.

    Reply
  32. Pingback: Wheat Belly ToolBox: Part 3 Um, So How Do I Keep Things Sweet??? | Fumbling Towards Evolution

    • You do have to stop out small … I only have used it in my morning coffee and have no issues. But early on a friend baked with it and it was a real issue for me!

      Reply
  33. Kathy Garland via Facebook March 12, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    And xylitol is toxic to dogs. So if you have xylitol gum or candy lying around and a food-motivated dog, you could have a very sick dog on your hands.

    Reply
  34. Jessica Tingley Anderson via Facebook March 12, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Xylitol had been found to actually kill off the yeast from thrush though! And helps your teeth and gum health.

    Reply
  35. Pingback: Sources | ADHD Natural Mamma

  36. pj, Sarah did reply to a few comments back when the thread was still new. I don’t think she’s even reading them anymore.

    Reply
  37. This is a fairly irresponsible article. And you’ll notice that “Sarah” the author has not commented on one comment through the whole thread.

    Reply
    • When I was a professional journalist for 20 years, it was poor ethics to comment on my own articles. If a Letter to the Editor warranted, I pursued a follow-up story with new interviews and new research.

      Reply
  38. yes, read the thread and make your own informed decision rather than blindly accepting the opinion of one nay-sayer. I too use xylitol every day and would not want to be without it.

    Reply
  39. Wow I am glad I found your article. A company wanted to me to do a review/blog post of their healthy kid shake. I always check ingredients before agreeing to do reviews. The product contains xylitol contains and that is how I found your article. I am telling them no thank you.

    Thank you
    Sandi

    Reply
    • Sandi,

      Before deciding no, you might want to read this thread and do some Internet research. Many others believe and have data to back up the use of xylitol as safe and beneficial. I use it every day.

      Reply
  40. Pingback: Sugar Substitute – XyloSweet (Singapore availability) | Fat Girl Living Low Carb

  41. About rats…

    Consuming oranges/orange juice is detrimental to the health of male rats, potentially even deadly. So, should all human males now avoid oranges?

    If you say no, then think twice about automatically using a rat’s reaction to a substance as reason for humans not to consume something.

    Reply
    • Yes, and Penicillin is toxic to Guinea Pigs, chocolate can be toxic for dogs, etc. Giving people advice on what is safe for consumption based on an animal’s reaction is irresponsible.

      Reply
  42. If 100g rat was given 1.6g xylitol, that would be like me eating 2 pounds! I would die too. Processed sugar and carbohydrates facilitate obesity, which is the number one killer. Xylitol is good in moderation. Processed sugar is not.

    Reply
  43. Wow, thanks for sharing that Sarah. I certainly wish I’d discovered xylitol before I had my son. I too breastfed him long-term and experienced a lot of dental issues. Fortunately, his teeth are better than mine, but I think that if I’d used xylitol, it would have improved his dental health.

    Reply
  44. Don’t be alarmed at this article since it contains NO REAL INFORMATION against xylitol. Way to scare people because you just “think” it must be bad, even though all of the evidence, both peer reviewed medical studies and anecdotes prove otherwise. Xylitol in pregnancy actually decreases cavity risk in the child after it is born. I ate very health natural foods, but after I nursed my first son for 22 months my teeth were trashed, I had 14 cavities at once, and wound up needing 2 root canals from all the damage. Poor kid also wound up having a lot of tooth problems and the dentist was baffled as to what was going on since we took such good care of his teeth. I had xylitol while pregnant with my next and even though he had the same diet as my older son, they both breastfed past one year, and we did the same oral health procedures, he has never had a single cavity compared to his brothers 10 cavities. I owe it to xylitol and I am so thankful for it.

    If “health” advocates are going to continue maligning EVERY single food in existance we might as well all become “breatharians”

    Reply
    • I agree with you. The author provides no scientific evidence (where’s the links to such evidence). I talked with a scientist from a leading organic Xylitol company who debunked everyone one of her assertions.

      Reply
  45. What might be a safe, low-glycemic alternative to refined sugar? Molasses? Lucuma? Monk Fruit? Yacon?
    I have coconut sugar, and I used to use Sucanat. But I think these spike blood glucose levels.

    Thanks

    Reply
  46. Just curious but oil pulling with coconut oil is supposed to pull out toxic chemicals right? So brushing with xylitol in your toothpaste then pulling should cancel out the negative? I tried toothpaste with no sweetener and threw it up instantly. The least amount of xylitol in my toothpaste I can stand is 7 tbs… Is this too much? Overly dangerous, etc?

    Reply
  47. Pingback: What Is Xylitol? - Sugar Substitutes #9 | The Freedom Academy

  48. You are correct J Onehcud that the GMO concerns re xylitol are unwarranted. This is well covered here along with other xylitol misconceptions:
    http://karenshealthykitchen.com/The_Truth_About_Xylitol.html

    Of course if is your choice whether to use it yourself, but re any possible digestive issues, there is this:
    http://4noguilt.com/facts-about-xylitol

    Metabolic & Chemical features of Xylitol: The caloric content of Xylitol is approximately the same as that of “sugar,” however; it is not as well absorbed with approximately 25-33% staying in the GI tract where it is metabolized by gut flora. When a significant amount is consumed at once, only about 1/3 will be absorbed through the gut wall, thereby traveling to the liver via the portal vein, the rest stays in the GI tract and is utilized by the beneficial intestinal flora and broken down into SCFAs (short chain fatty acids) which are vital to proper gut cell metabolism. Significant quantities will cause transient soft stools (osmotic diarrhea). Once a person has become adapted to Xylitol, amounts up to 200+ grams per day can readily be tolerated without causing diarrhea.

    Reply
  49. A quick note on GMO:
    I think it is truly wonderful to see people taking such an active interest in the foods they consume. As a PhD candidate researching diabetes, I was considering trying xylitol in some Christmas baking for family members with type 2 diabetes with the goal of keeping their blood sugar in check over the holidays. Given the risk for intestinal discomfort and the scarcity of safety testing I have decided against it. Who want’s diarrhea at Christmas?

    However, I would like to share a bit about how I understand GMOs and why, with respect to xylitol from GMO corn, the GMO issue may not be as relevant as you might think. It all starts with DNA, the stuff in every cell of any living thing that serves as the master instructions for all of our cellular and body functions. The DNA is where all of our genes are. In a GMO, specific instructions (genes) in the DNA have been altered to produce a desirable outcome such as pesticide resistance, growth properties etc… As you very clearly pointed out xylitol extraction from plants (including corn) requires extensive industrial processing to arrive at the “purified” xylitol. As such, the only thing you end up with is the xylitol, not the GMO gene product that helps it survive pesticides, not the GMO gene product that helps it grow better….just the xylitol. So unless the corn is being genetically modified to specifically produce more or somehow better xylitol, the GMO argument is in my opinion irrelevant. You are not getting the altered DNA or any of the altered gene products in the final product.

    I’m not a GMO employee, or even a GMO supporter for that matter, just a scientist who believes people deserve to really understand what they are putting in their bodies. Although I don’t think the GMO argument holds much weight in rationalizing if this product is for you, I will be choosing to avoid xylitol.

    Reply
  50. I use Xylitol for quite some time now and I haven’t experienced any side effects by now. However, I think I use it in a moderate way. Usually I use it to substitute some sugar in baked stuff like cakes, muffins or brownies (especially when the recipe calls for a lot of sugar). It’s not that I eat sweet stuff all the time but there are some days every now and then when I have this craving for something sweet.
    When I heard the first time about Xylitol I read and researched a lot about it before I decided to try it. I haven’t heard about this rat tests mentioned above but I know that Xylitol is highly toxic to dogs (and supposedly cats too). I don’t have pets so this is not issue for me.
    As far as I know, the canine body and the human body react completely different to Xylitol. The human body can easily distinct between sugar and Xylitol. The canine body however reacts on Xylitol or sugar the same way. Its pancreas is triggered to release insulin, a lot of insulin. This rapid release of insulin results in a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia). The dosage needed to cause this effect is fairly low and can be life-threatening to the pet quickly.
    However, this toxic effect for some animals should not be confused with the effects on humans. But pet owners should be aware of it and be careful with products containing Xylitol.
    As I said above, I use Xylitol for quite a while now and no side effects at all. I think whatever we eat or drink, it should be balanced well. The same applies to fat or sugar which can be a normal part of our diet as long as everything is well balanced. In my opinion it would be stupid to avoid any sugar or replace it completely with other sweeteners. On the other hand consuming loads of sugar every day isn’t very smart either. My sister is a pharmacist and she always tells me that almost everything whether considered healthy or not can kill you if the dosage is just high enough (even vitamins or minerals).
    If I have a glas of wine or two in the evening I will be perfectly fine the other morning. If I drink a whole bottle or more I will most likely wake up with a headache.

    Reply
  51. We are all going to die for some reason or another sooner or later, so worrying about occasionally using of any naturally claimed sweetners (not to be confused with Aspertame, sucrolose, sucrose, HFCS etc and any thing….obviously carsinogenic) should be trivial within the big picture of life. I recently discovered our new local frozen yogurt shop uses xylitol in their products. I have a cup seldom and find it is delicious compared to any of the other sweeteners used in other frozen yogurt treats. So, the old adage states; “Everything In Moderation” worry less about penny-ante issues, enjoy our existence as we pass through this short journey in the ways of the world and don’t sweat the small stuff.

    Reply
  52. I find it so interesting that people buy/use things that they don’t research themselves. I appreciate the blog but it does not really address that the good xylitol is birch. Naturopathic dentists are having patients use xylitol more and more. Poisonous to dogs due to the fact they do not have the same digestive enzymes as humans……obviously not able to digest things like we can and vice versa! As far as humans having digestion issues, anything you read about it will tell you basically that if your gut isn’t that healthy this will probably cause a poop-a-palooza.

    And just remember, no blog post the the “IT” of info, there can be stuff that isn’t included that really should be.

    Reply
  53. Where did you get the information about “And, while it is true that xylitol itself does not feed candida directly like sugar does and is even promoted as a useful part of the Candida Diet, the fermentation of undigested xylitol in the gut most definitely can exacerbate yeast problems, so don’t be fooled by that argument!”
    I have not been able to find the research that backs this up and I am very interested to read about this.

    Reply
  54. This is word for word from Ramiel Nagel. Sounds like all residues are removed.

    1. First the xylan needs to be broken down in a process called acid hydrolyzing. The results of this process leave us with xylose and acetic acid. The process of hydrogenation is carried out at higher pressures and temperatures ranging from 158 degrees Fahrenheit and higher. Hydrogenation needs a catalyst, so a substance called Raney nickel can be used which is a powdered nickel-aluminium alloy.

    2. The acetic acid needs to be removed as the material safety data sheet describes it as, “Very hazardous in case of skin contact (irritant), of eye contact (irritant), of ingestion, of inhalation. Hazardous in case of skin contact (corrosive, permeator), of eye contact (corrosive).”

    3. Then the hydrolyzing acid and organic residues must be removed, this is done by heating the mixture and evaporating it.

    4. The resulting syrup, now free of acetic acid, hydrolyzing acid, nick-aluminum and other residues.

    5. The syrup is crystallized by stirring ethanol into it.

    6. The crystalline xylitol is now separated in a centrifuge from the ethanol and from the sorbitol remaining in solution.

    7. Viola, you have xylitol.

    Reply
    • Who is Ramiel Nagel? And where is this article, so that we all can read it if we would like. Most of your sources seem to come from http://www.NaturalNews.com, Amazon.com and your own site – not a whole lot of different sources.

      Reply
  55. A stick of xylitol gum can also kill a dog, which should be noted in your argument. But that, however, changes the rat argument to conclude that it’s probably something other than the size and it’s more to do with the difference in make up (ie dogs and chocolate).

    I think the key is everything in moderation. It’s still better than aspertame.

    Reply
  56. Pingback: Pie Contest Part 2 | So There's This Thing

  57. There have been tons o studies done on it. Here’s one source, and a summary of benefits:
    http://www.iprogressivemed.com/misc/xylitol_a_sweet_alternative.pdf

    Summary of Benefits
    Xylitol is a sweet-tasting sugar substitute that has been approved for use in more than 35 countries. Consumption of xylitol is associated with a significant reduction in tooth decay, resulting in fewer cavities and resolution of periodontal disease. Xylitol has been shown to contribute to increased bone density, weight loss, stabilization of blood sugar and lowering of insulin levels. Additional benefits include:

    - Increases energy by enhancing ATP production
    - Increases utilization of fat
    - Replenishes glycogen
    - Anabolic – keeps biosynthetic pathways open
    - Anticatabolic –helps maintain lean muscle mass
    - Antioxidant –generates NADPH, keeping glutathione in an active state
    - Increases endurance
    - Reduces free radical and oxidative damage

    Reply
  58. think this really is scary stuff and there should be some studies done on it. I used it in my coffee the past two days. I know this may be TMI, but it is scary and I think people should know… Day 1, about 2 hours after drinking had intense diarrhea. Didn’t bother me though as I usually have the opposite problem, so I thought, wow this is great stuff! Day 2, a few hours after drinking, have somewhat regular bm. Hmm I think, okay I guess you get used to it. About 4 hours later have serious bleeding from rectum. I am not one to have ever had any issues like this what so ever.

    Reply
  59. this is the most unscientific scare-mongering drivel i’ve seen on the internet today … and i’ve been looking around some god awful health sites. oh em gee … it’s hydrogenated and that sounds a bit like hydrogenated fats. i thought the “sounds a bit like” argument went out in the middle ages except for geniuses like sarah palin

    Reply
  60. I was wondering where you get your information. I didn’t find any references to studies or other reasons for your comments. Any help this way?

    Please don’t sell my email.

    Reply
  61. You seem to be the only person who seems to be cautious even amoung natural health communities. I have tried xylitol and after a two weeks gave it up because of serious side effects, the least of them being intestinal, others were mental fog, headaches, insomnia and emotional changes. I only have two to three teaspoons in two coffees a day. I made sure the brand I got came from hardwood trees from North America. I have had some serious health problems in the past so this may be why it’s effects of me were stronger. I can’t believe other people are not complaining. I feel it had an effect on my liver or intestinal tract plus brain chemistry. I never use sweetener substitutes and just gave this a try because I don’t like using sugar….. Well never again. For all the evil they say about sugar, I find it to be the least harmful also the lesser of two evils.

    Reply
  62. “My other reason for being sceptical about Xylitol is that when we experience a sweet taste without any sugar, our bodies don’t quite know whats going on and sets off a cascade of reactions that are very much not helpful or healthy for diet or body. Me stays away from it.”

    Of course, you are free to do what you wish. But your statement about the effects of xylitol is not founded on anything factual.

    Anyway, as a longtime user of xylitol, I can attest that it has only contributed to my current superior state of health. If that sounds ad-like, so be it!

    Reply
    • Brilliant comment :)

      I cleared up my eczema using xylitol, it lift my daily moods, helped me sleep better. My eczema was classed as fungal, I started taking xylitol as it was recommended for yeast overgrowths and my stubborn eczema patch moved from oneside of the body to the other and just disappeared :) ,. If you’ve just started taking xylitol your body will need a few days to adjust, take half a tsp day 1, then 1 tsp day 2 and so on, after a week you’ll be fine..

      Reply
  63. Thank you, Jan for the research and information! And thank you a little bit also to the debaters/nay sayers as well. This sort of debate will lead to us getting the right picture. Though I must admit that responses like “Use Xylitol. It really is as sweet as it’s cracked up to be” seem rather worrying and ad-like!!!

    Basically, I *won’t* be buying Xylitol, as a just in case measure, for a few reasons. I will stick with only rare treats made with ordinary sugar or honey (organic/ethical if possible) for me and the kids. :)

    My other reason for being sceptical about Xylitol is that when we experience a sweet taste without any sugar, our bodies don’t quite know whats going on and sets off a cascade of reactions that are very much not helpful or healthy for diet or body. Me stays away from it.

    Reply
  64. Well said, Simon.

    More grist for the xylitol mill – here is a comment on an anti-xylitol article at Natural News:
    http://www.naturalnews.com/022986_xylitol_health_sugar.html

    with all due respect to Mr Nagel regarding many of his very helpful dental ideas, this article ignores the LARGE body of research and evidence that supports all kinds of Xylitol benefits -

    we used Weston PRice guidelines AND xylitol to STOP COLD our 1.5 year olds tooth decay and have used xylitol extensively for 4 years with nothing but good results.

    Mr Nagel – xylitol is not a SUGAR it is a SUGAR ALCOHOL and if you have any chemistry knowledge whatsoever, you know there are two VERY DIFFERENT SUBSTANCES – and act chemically different in almost every way. That it is “processed” (the terror buzzword of natural food age) is to paint ALL processing of ANY substance with the same “it’s damned” brush and that is – in a word – ignorant. (and BTW – chocolate is deadly to dogs – care to extrapolate that one to humans and see how wrong you are??)

    At Daiasolgaia (just google it) you will find a pletheora of positive study references to the use and research on xylitol as well as our story about how xylitol was an integral part of our dental health program. (no i don’t sell the stuff….)

    Ravi Wells
    Daiasolgaia

    Reply
  65. While I agree that any artificially derived substance should be studied extensively before being brought to market and the potential harmful effects noted, I do believe that your article is full of misinformation about the chemical processes which are used to create Xylitol. Though I admit I have not studied the actual processes used in manufacturing, I question your claims of “heavy metal residue”. First off, the definition of a “heavy metal” is often times misinterpreted and lacks a coherent scientific basis. Since you have seemed to classify Al and Ni as heavy metals, what would you say about our body’s physical requirements for other “heavy metals” such as iron, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum and zinc? Just because something is classified as some way, doesn’t mean it is toxic, which is the tone you took in your article. In any case, these metals are a catalyst whose sole purpose is to speed up the reaction, and are necessary in the chemical world, from the processing of crude oil to the manufacturing of foods. They could just as easily use steel wool as a catalyst if it was efficient. The other point of contention which jumped out at me is your claim that all xylitol from GMO sources contains a “dose of GMO”. Xylitol is a chemical compound extracted from another source. It has a chemical formula of (CHOH)3(CH2OH)2, which would be the exact same if it was derived from a GMO source, a natural soure, or just simply finding another (likely expensive) method of combining carbons, hydrogens and oxygens in a certain way. There are no GMO genes in the forumla, no mutated DNA to impact our own, only a relatively simple chemical compound held together by chemical bonds.

    I agree that Xylitol should be studied more, but trying to sway the argument against it using disinformation is an immoral tactic and is better suited for something like Fox News than a real discussion – you’re just trying to scare people by bending the truth.

    Reply
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  67. Pingback: Why Stevia (and no-calorie sweeteners in general) Is A Deceiver To The Body | Yours, Naturally

  68. Hello SARAH!

    Love your article.
    Please tell me, what sweetener should I use then that is healthy or not toxic for human?

    I don’t like stevia because it makes food taste different.

    If not xylitol, what would you suggest? What to you use?
    THANK YOU!

    Reply
  69. Why not put it in coffee and use it for baking? I think it makes perfect sense to use it both as a food and as an oral rinse. I do myself. And it is actually more effective and economical to use the granular form orally rather than gums or mints. The dentist Ulrich Bruhn who has researched it extensively, recommends using straight xylitol and has had great success with it. Please check out the article at healingteethnaturally.com, here is the link again:
    http://www.healingteethnaturally.com/rinsing-mouth-brushing-teeth-with-xylitol-sugar.html
    Jenifer\’s last post: The Night The Bed Fell

    Reply
  70. This is a terribly misleading article. There are countless scientific studies that prove the benefits of xylitol. The rat example would be equivilant to me eating 2 pounds of xylitol. I’m sure I’d be sick after that! Who eats 2 lbs of sugar!? Also, naturally manufactured xylitol will work wonders. Stear clear of candy bars and baked goods that only “contain xylitol” becuase that usually means there is some other type of synthetic sugar that is no good.

    Xylitol is fiber-like, yes. It’s processed by our bodies like a fiber so it brings water into your gut, but that doesn’t turn negative until you’ve had too much. The recommended amount per day is 5-6 grams for a human. That’s all you need.

    So a guide to Xylitol:
    1. make sure your source is pure, non-GMO and minimally processed
    2. please don’t eat 2 pounds at once (stick to 5-6 grams per day)
    3. for oral benefits don’t mix into coffee or pastries but rather take in the form of gum or mints
    4. in order to see benefit it must be integrated into your daily routine

    For oral benefits check out this website
    http://drecoaching.com/

    Reply
  71. I order xylitol by the 5-lb. bag. I use it to sweeten tea, occasional sweet treats (made chocolate pudding with it, turned out great) and rinse with it for dental health. I think a lot of people are turned off by the name which seems to imply something fake and chemical, but as a few have pointed out here, it’s a natural substance found in fruits, birch bark, and produced by our own bodies. I wouldn’t advocate eating it a cup at a time, but who would anyway?

    Even the argument against eating anything made from corn doesn’t stand up, where xylitol is concerned. Whether from birch or corn, it’s virtually identical.

    I wrote a post at my own blog where I recommend it in the strongest terms:
    http://writtens-jen.blogspot.com/2010/05/eating-cake-and-having-your-health-too.html

    And some may find this info on its dental benefits quite eye-opening:
    http://www.healingteethnaturally.com/rinsing-mouth-brushing-teeth-with-xylitol-sugar.html

    Reply
  72. I appreciate your article, but I don’t think you back up your premise that most xylitol is made from GMO corn. If you really want to get that point across, I’d advise you not to use a picture of a xylitol product that specifically states it uses non-GMO corn.

    Having said that, do you think Splenda is a better choice?

    Thanks …
    Jennifer\’s last post: CPS Takes Baby After Parents Seek Second Medical Opinion

    Reply
  73. I am new to this website; I enjoyed reading this page. In 1973 I got my Biology degree and Chemistry minor. I felt good about my understanding of life, food, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, health, etc. Early I was exposed to Prevention magazine and some health-conscious people. I read that tooth paste was too abrasive, orange juice was too acidic, sugar was poison, and MSG was harmful. I thought, why don’t they tell me what I can eat or use, not what I can’t! It turns out that you can read something negative about practically everything we could eat. Furthermore, like many people, I’ve had to sort out the whole natural vs synthetic thing and the whole organic vs other stuff thing.

    So now I’ve just been exposed over the weekend to Xylitol in coffee given to me by a good friend, and it tasted great to me. Though most of the literature doesn’t find anything wrong with it, I’ve run into this blog today. I’ve seen a general bias against Xylitol here, but also some very good facts and hard science; and I think a generally good discussion. Hopefully I can add a little. My conclusion for now is that some people can’t drink milk, some can’t have wheat, some can’t have too much phenylalanine, some people can’t eat sugar, etc… But I can and do eat and drink all those things and orange juice too. So for me, if some people have digestive or other immediate problems with using Xylitol, that doesn’t disqualify its use for me; but it gives me pause before suggesting it to others without qualification. GMO is high on my suspect list right now because the literature is filling with negative issues, so that’s the other thing on my radar now to watch for. Thanks for bringing that up Sarah (By the way, nothing I learned in 1973 worried me about GMO).

    Regarding processing of foods and supplements, really, every vitamin bottle on the shelf is a highly processed and unnatural form of the vitamin. Where can you eat a gram of anything “natural” and get 1000 milligrams of vitamin C into your system? One other comment about what was said back on 12/06/12, “I never trust anything that is pure white”. I suppose many of your readers know that so very many natural components of our foods including all the amino acids are pure white crystalline substances. In our quest to beat down over-use of that empty-calorie, pure, over-processed sucrose table sugar… let’s not vilify everything that simply looks like white processed sugar. :)

    Reply
  74. This article is misleading. I have used xylitol (from birch trees) on a daily basis for years with zero negative effects. I purchase it from Globalsweet.com. Their product is made entirely from organic birch trees. The xylitol made from corn (most brands in America are made from corn) is the one to avoid. Do your research and buy the good stuff. Xylitol is an excellent, natural sweetener when processed from BIRCH TREES. Globalsweet.com has an excellent reputation and fair prices. Visit their web site which has a comparison of all popular brands of xylitol. ONLY Global Sweet is made from organic hardwood, has no GMO’s, and is made in the USA! http://www.xylitol-brand-comparison.com

    Reply
  75. According to the Material Safety Data Sheet for xylitol, the LD50 (dose that will kill 50% of rats/mice) is 22,000 mg/kg. By comparison, the LD50 for table sugar (sucrose) is 29,700 mg/kg and the LD50 for table salt (sodium chloride) is just 3,000 mg/kg. My point is that a lot of things that we commonly consume have the potential to be lethal in excessive quantities. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t safe to consume in moderation. According to the Dept. of Health & Human Services, the average American consumes 152 lb of sugar each year. At a rate of 15 g/0.5 oz per day of xylitol, your annual consumption would be just 12 lb per year.

    Reply
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  79. I agree with some of the commenters here- it is silly to say something kills rats therefore it’s bad for humans. We metabolize lots of things differently than animals. If a dog eats a whole steak he runs the very real risk of pancreatitis, which is deadly. It’s absurd to compare anything to a rat. Xylitol has been consumed for over a hundred years, it’s not like it’s some new-fangled sweetener that hasn’t been researched in depth for safety. Where are the sources for this anyhow? We need to be cautious about what we eat, but we also need to not believe everything we read on the internet, especially when it’s written without sourcing the doom and gloom. Sheesh.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Jordan, I was thinking the same thing. Folks, just because something is derived from another substance in a lab, does not automatically mean it is “unnatural” and thus dangerous (for example: baking soda). I would use some caution when trying to find any sugar substitute as the whole point is to change our tastes, no? Cut out the daily sugar and save it for special occasions. However, I don’t think a little xylitol here and there is harmful. It is found naturally in fruits and vegetables and is produced by our bodies during metabolism. I don’t think we need to freak out about it in our toothpastes. There is a tendency to jump on a bandwagon and use excessive amounts of something as the new cure all (butter oil anyone?) and I think all things need to be judged with caution. That being said, there is also a tendency amongst us naturally minded people to mistrust anything that remotely sounds like a chemical. I wouldn’t order it in bulk, but I wouldn’t throw out everything with a drop of it either.

      Reply
  80. Pingback: What are Some Suggestions for Healthy Sugars? Real Food for Thought 12/29/12 | Modern Alternative Kitchen

  81. This is so discouraging. I love baking, and thought I had finally found a healthy sugar substitute. This article just tempts me to go back to using sugar – it’s way cheaper! I find stevia great for some things, but can have a bad after-taste and every brand is different as to how much to use… this is just really disheartening.

    Reply
  82. Rai Bernheim via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    xylitol also wreaks havoc with the blood sugar levels of pets who get into it, such as small dogs who find a pack of gum in their owner’s purse… veterinary emergency. at least 12-24 hours of crazy soaring and crashing blood sugar. not good.
    I shudder when I see the big bags of it at the co-op.

    Reply
  83. Karen Whisler via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 10:14 am

    I appreciated the information. I’ve always reacted terribly to xylitol (stomach baloons to about 5 mos. pregnant size) much to my dismay. Thanks for posting!

    Reply
  84. Melissa O'Callaghan via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 10:13 am

    it did kinda make me mad because I give my gum addict children spry to keep them off sugary gum. My 3 yr old sometimes swallows it and yeah it made me mad cause we can go through a pack a day sometimes.

    Reply
  85. Xylitol seems to be one of those substances that opinions vary on widely. I don’t consider it to be an unprocessed food so I stay away from it. I don’t find stevia to have a strange taste so that is my go-to sweetener. That and bee vomit….errr… honey. :)

    Reply
  86. Angela Davis via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Thanks Sarah. I am so annoyed. I just got this toothpaste from Redmond called Earth Paste and I did not know it had xylitol in it. :(

    Reply
  87. Good confirmation for my gut-sense. I value Stevia – I believe it helps to create an alkaline gut environment. (confirmation?). Any good recommendations though, anyone, for a “rinse and spit” tooth rinse? My 3 year old has taken to the teeth cleansing routine with a rinse and spit of Xylitoll – (eeks! – made from corn) – which she loves, of course in one part due to the sweetness factor. Does pure og honey/water provide a similar good rinse option?! thanks

    Reply
  88. Marie Carol Dolce via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 3:35 am

    Years ago in The New Wholefoods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Woods, I read about Xylitol: “A byproduct of the plywood industry, xylitol is extracted from birch cellulose by an energy-intensive chemical process. It may also be made from other hardwood chips, almond shells, pecan shells, cornstalks or corncobs. It is linked to cancer, urinary kidney stones, and bladder inflammation. Not recommended.” Since reading her book, I never considered it an option for human consumption…. I’m glad the info on Xylitol is finally becoming more mainstream now… thank you for helping!

    Reply
  89. Donna Molles via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 3:02 am

    Thanks. Not angry. It’s just more processed food. We use honey and maple syrup, mainly. Occasionally, organic cane sugar. Just recently bought coconut sugar and used some in a batch of oatmeal cookies. They didn’t agree with me and I’m not sure if it was just the grains or possibly the coconut sugar. I eat other coconut products with no issues. ::shrug:: The less processed the better, I say. The only thing I really trust, food-wise, is what God has given us in nature. Everything else is suspect.

    Reply
  90. Rebeca Beldzik via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 1:42 am

    I got nervous because I buy earthpaste that has xylitol and I brush my baby’s teeth with it!! now what?? should we just make our own? what do you use??

    Reply
  91. Roxie Curtis via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 1:19 am

    and just one more thing. Why are they pouring an artificial sweetener on a beautiful delicious looking bowl of naturally sweet fruit in the add? Dumb!

    Reply
  92. Danielle White via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 1:17 am

    I’ve had my son chew Spry gum because I heard xylitol kills the bad bacteria in your mouth and reduces cavities. Is this not the case?

    Reply
  93. Roxie Curtis via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 1:10 am

    I’m interested in coconut sugar too. I just started making my own coconut milk, flour, amd coconut water and milk Kefir all from your videos. If you come up with video on how to make coconut sugar. I’ll make that next. :)

    Reply
  94. Mandy Leigh via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:59 am

    I use Xylitol sparingly with Stevia and Coconut sugar. I’m not saying that I trust xylitol 100% but I looked into the article you cited and it’s not what I would call a solid basis for supporting your statements. If there is good science (and recent) out there I would sure love to read it but the articles cited here give almost no support.

    Reply
  95. Roxie Curtis via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:55 am

    I don’t understand how any of these artificial sweeteners can be good for you. I use raw honey, molasses and applesauce or juice to sweeten anything that needs to be sweetened. Agave nectar was so popular and still is but it also is so highly processed. I don’t understand why people don’t realize that God made evrything on this earth perfect and for us to thrive and greedy people have to go and mess it all up.

    Reply
  96. I have actually found that most things don’t even need extra sweetening…I used to use stevia in my kefir smoothies but most of the flavors I make taste fine (or better) without it, I made homemade hot cocoa and the recipe calls for sugar and I left it out…it tasted great. I skip it as much as I can. And I’m with you Brenda…I looove dark chocolate!

    Reply
  97. Rob Dollinger via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Previously I had read lots of good things about this sweetener but being highly processed it doesn’t surprise me. Since I don’t use any sweeteners it doesn’t really matter to me. Thank you for the info though.

    Reply
  98. The “gas” effect turns me off to this sweetener. I would like to give up all sugar because of health issues and to control blood sugar. But I don’t want to give up dark chocolate. I think I could handle not eating other sweets if I don’t have to give up chocolate. So I don’t know what to do to sweeten it at least a little. I can make my own chocolate to control what’s in it but I can’t eat unsweetened chocolate. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  99. The “gas” effect turns me off to this sweetener. I would like to give up all sugar because of health issues and to control blood sugar. But I don’t want to give up dark chocolate. I think I could handle not eating other sweets if I don’t have to give up chocolate. So I don’t know what to do to sweeten it at least a little. I can make my own chocolate to control what’s in it but I can’t eat unsweetened chocolate. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  100. Jeremy Rice via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Unprocessed sugar and honey in moderation? Nothing wrong with that. I see no need to eat any sweetener other than those 2 nor would I.

    Reply
  101. Cheryl Trhlik Zacek via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:23 am

    I had just read in a book about how it was ok to use and I hadn’t ever seen it or heard of it. So I bought a small package to try. Then your article came out. *sigh* I had been suspicious when I read on the package that it is a sugar alcohol. Thanks for the information!

    Reply
  102. Tim Swart via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:16 am

    Not angry, totally expected. Pure Stevia is the only safe sweetener it appears. Not only is the gum sweetened with xylitol, but most likely it contains aspartame as well. I’ve done a ton of gum reading labels and it is all garbage. No need for it anyway.

    Reply
  103. Ann Hibbard via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Stevia rocks! Buy whole organic leaves and make an infusion (a tea) strain, and keep in the fridge to use as a liquid sweetener. Keeps about a week in the coldest part of the fridge.

    Reply
  104. Kristy Pendergast via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:14 am

    xylitol makes me nauseous. And I find stevia to be way too sweet. We only use raw honey and organic grade b maple syrup here. And rapadura very occasionally

    Reply
  105. Annie Atkin Rasmussen December 14, 2012 at 12:13 am

    ARGH. There’s xylitol in my Earthpaste! I know I can make my own toothpaste but I’ve been so happy not having to do so!

    Reply
  106. Nickel Pawless via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:09 am

    Thanks for this!
    Do you have the skinny on stevia and agave too? I think it was stevia I’d read negative things about but don’t remember why…. I’d just google it, but I trust your advice more! Thanks!

    Reply
  107. The article surprised me as it was the first time I heard of concerns over xylitol (apart from it being poisonous to dogs). I have a penchant for chewing gum and thought that xylitol was an acceptable sweetener that would allow me to indulge once again. :sigh: Is there any kind of safe, acceptable chewing gum? (My post keeps failing so please forgive me if it is appearing more than once. I cannot see it.)

    Reply
  108. Sarah Couture Pope via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Karen Lossing xylitol is still dangerous even if organic. there is no safe xylitol from the research I’ve done.

    Reply
  109. Ann Hibbard via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:06 am

    I only use it in my mouthwash formula which is spit out after swishing. Peppermint, chlorophyll, and xylitol. And distilled water. Sometimes Celtic sea salt if a cold or flu may be around.

    Reply
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  111. Kristin Sanders via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:02 am

    It just sounds funky. I use it in my toothpaste, but after reading Cure Tooth Decay I would like to switch to a tooth powder.

    Reply
  112. Karen Lossing via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Just disappointed that you didn’t cover the complete truth when you :”reported” this. Leaving out facts is wrong and shouldn’t be done. Misleading is also wrong. Please include organically produced and PROCESSED Xylitol, and also helping people to know that you “findings’ are for those with candida or a compromised immune system.

    Reply
  113. Rachel Petmecky via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Wasn’t that surprised. I’m just trying to stay away from sweet stuff all together right now. No matter if its honey or stevia I still seem to have more sugar cravings after eating them. Xylitol always tasted too chemical tasting to me.

    Reply
  114. Barbara Meza via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:01 am

    Was not keen on this long before the article. I did not feel “well” when I ingested anything that contained it.

    Reply
  115. Diane Sanfilippo via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Loved this post. I get TONS of questions about sugar alcohols, but my passion for researching the info isn’t there. I am just not interested in digging it all up because I am not personally looking for any reason to think it’s “okay.” So, thanks for this :)

    Reply
  116. Sam Ann Bethune via Facebook December 14, 2012 at 12:00 am

    I prefer to avoid it, just like all the other “natural” artificial sweeteners. It was a good post and I think people need to be aware of the unhealthy products being labeled as “healthy”.

    Reply
  117. TMH –

    Thank you for your voice of reason. While I appreciate much of what Sarah has to offer on her site (the videos are great), many of her articles, including this one, are ripe with sensationalism without much evidence to back it up. It may be that she is right on the money…but there isn’t much evidence to support that. Nor is there much evidence to support she is wrong. A few months ago, Sarah had a post about a nifty way to remove embedded ticks, involving using soap. So many people responded to her, including those with direct Lyme’s disease experience, begging her to retract the article, which she eventually did. I appreciate Sarah’s presence on the net though I take what she says with a grain of…xylitol :)

    Reply
  118. I don’t get this article. Is this just a try to throw as much dirt at Xylitol as possible in the hope that something will stick? There are hardly any facts in here, that would support the notion that Xylitol is not as warm and fuzzy as the big bad media would like you to believe.

    Of course, Xylitol is an industrial product, so yes, it is “manufactured,” and yes, it is hydrogenated. But how exactly is that bad? Just because some hydrogenated foods are not great, does that mean everything that is hydrogenated is bad? Under that logic, water would be bad, because it is hydrogenated oxygen. And to translate the use of a catalyst into the presence of heavy metals in Xylitol requires quite a bit of creativity. Where are the measurements of heavy metal residue in Xylitol to back up such fear mongering? If you don’t like GMO’s, just don’t buy GMO products. It’s just that easy. And no, just because Xylitol is made from corn does not mean it is as bad as HGCS, sorry. Many things are made from corn, some are good, some are bad. Same origin does not mean same quality.

    Similarly, the argument that because only part of the Xylitol is broken down, the unmetabolized portion ferments, which would lead to the growth of undesired bacteria, is hard to follow. I’m not sure I understand this: all bacteria in your gut “ferment” unmetabolized foodstuff. That is why they are there. They grow much slower on Xylitol than on sugar, because they cannot break it down as easily, just like they cannot break down other carbohydrates as easily, e.g., fiber. So Xylitol actually does not “ferment” as much as other things we eat, e.g., non-hydrogenated sugars. Most of it comes out the other end unchanged. That’s the whole point of eating it – tasting the sweet without ingesting the calories. Why would that invite any undesired bacteria?

    The prize for most creative argument, however, goes to “don’t eat anything that could kill a rat.” If you would go by this in your daily diet, you would have to strike a bunch of stuff off you food list. Why does it matter that rats or dogs cannot handle this stuff? Humans can. So by all means, eat it. Just don’t give it to your rat.

    Of course, there is anecdotal evidence of people getting headaches and so on, but does that mean this stuff is bad for humans in general? Does the fact that a bunch of people die each year from eating peanut butter mean that we should ban this food from our pantries?

    None of the arguments in the article are funded in fact. They are all just pretty ill-conceived comparisons and extrapolations without validity and without any true relevance to human diet. From the responses in the discussion here, it seems that that is enough to strike fear into many of the readers of this blog.

    Reply
  119. Pingback: Xylitol: Not As Sweet As It’s Cracked Up To Be

  120. Thanks for this article! I’ve been using xylitol here and there for a few years and hadn’t heard much, if any negative findings on it. I always try to stay informed about what I put in my body, so it’s great to hear exactly how this is being processed. I had a feeling there was something fishy going on with xylitol. It always seemed too processed and artificial looking to really be healthy. Thanks for the info!
    hfhealy\’s last post: Healthy Gingerbread Latte and Peppermint Mocha (Vegan option)

    Reply
    • Several LLMD’s (Lyme Literate Medical Doctors) are using it sparingly and only a small dose 3x a week to help bust open the Lyme Biofilms. So whatever little toxins it may have is being put to good use. And of course it’s spread out so you don’t take it for 2 weeks.

      Reply
  121. I have been chewing gum with Xylitol for the last few days and have just started noticing the end of my tongue feeling very irritated and strange. Wonder if it’s from the Xylitol. Will stop using the gum and see if the irritation clears. Could not find anything on the label to indicate the source of the Xylitol, corn or birch. One of last ingredients is soy lecithin. Is that bad?

    Reply
  122. Hi Sarah:

    Is xytiol necessary for preventing tooth decay? Using Ramiel Nagel’s diet for reversing tooth decay, taking mincol, and using other measures like oil pulling should do the trick. These measures have properties of healing the entire body, as opposed to treating a symptom, so I would start with these first.

    I think this is an isolated compound and too often these isolated compounds do more harm than good. Their action becomes more like a drug than a food, which means much more room for negative side effects.

    One of the less known reasons why people crave sweets is because many foods have lost the natural sweetness from being nutrient deficient because of inept soil management practices, not excluding the vast majority of organic farming out there. Have you tasted celery or broccoli grown in healthy fertile soil that is sweet like an orange? I have found people gravitate toward such superior foods when they are presented to them, which in turn satisfy their sweet tooth.
    High Brix Nutrient Dense Foods\’s last post: Benefits of High Brix Nutrient Dense Farmed Foods Part 4: Vitamins, Antioxidants and other Phytochemicals

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  123. Sarah, I wish you had mentioned more about the research and usage of Xylitol in Europe. When I started using it several years ago for a sweetner for my family and diabetic daughter, I spent hours looking at information on the web about its safety and usage. I read many articles about how it had been used for over 50 years in Europe and was even used as medicine for children with chronic ear infections. I find your information a stark contrast to all the good things I read a few years ago. After pondering over it for a while, I am wondering if in Europe, they processed natural Xylitol from the original sources of Birch and Raspberry to create theirs while in America, the companies have found ways to make it faster and cheaper. The American processing and advertising could very well be what has lead to the increased usage of Xylitol in almost everything and the reports as you stated above about all of the negative aspects about Xylitol. As you don’t mention any more articles that you sourced your info from than 3, I am not sure that the whole picture is being portrayed here. I would be very interested in finding out if you had done more research about the European use and processing of Xylitol. I use it in my home and really would like the whole story. Thank you for thinking about our safety and reporting these things to your avid readers.

    Reply
  124. Just FYI for anyone out there looking for good natural toothpastes: my sis and I love Uncle Harrry’s toothpastes. You can buy them online from uncleharrys.com if they aren’t available in any local stores. They’re clay-based and all natural, so no artificial sweeteners like xylitol and whatnot. The texture is different than conventional toothpastes, but I love them and feel like they take better care of my teeth. Also, Dr. Bronner’s and other Castile soaps can also be used as toothpaste.

    Reply
  125. I too would like to know about Lakanto…as I have found it to be an awesome replacement for sugar although it is expensive….Can you let us know Sarah?

    Reply
  126. Pingback: What is Xylitol? The sugar alternative that’s making me crazy | Food Citations

  127. Any-thing in your mouth goes directly into your blood and to your brain so quickly!

    The whole principle behind homeopathics under the tongue.

    Regardless of spitting!

    Reply
  128. Pingback: The Best And Worst Sweeteners

  129. Even a small amount of xylitol (or any other sugar alcohol, for that matter) causes me severe intestinal distress, which is why I use strictly stevia for my sweetener (coffee, tea, baking), or honey when baking for groups. I wish stevia was easier for me to grow (I can’t get it to germinate hardly at all!) because it is so pricey to purchase!

    Reply
  130. I wonder if Lakanto sweetener is produced in the same way as xylitol. I’d love to know. It’s by-product is erythritol, an alcohol sugar. It is promoted by Donna Gates and sold on her Body Ecology website.

    Reply
  131. Reading through the comments, I sense in many posts a sense of desperation…”What am I going to do if I can’t have my sweets and not pay a price for it?!”

    I certainly relate to “needing” sweets. I tell myself I don’t eat much of them, but every night after dinner I crave for them. I don’t need much…a couple pieces of dark chocolate or a couple dates are common. I’ve known people who have completely cut any and all sugars from their diet (including fruit, sugar substitutes, honey, dates, fruit juices, etc). I mean everything! And they say how much better they feel in generally, more stable energy, no more cravings, etc. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do that. I notice that even if I do eat something larger/sweeter (such as a piece of pie), as long as I do it during a larger meal (such as the evening meal for us), I don’t get all wonked out (sugar rush/crash)

    But what of the logic of “sugar substitutes”? Is it so one can eat LOTS of sweet stuff and not pay the health price that Sarah reminded us all of?

    Of course there are the “healthier” sugars such as molasses and the dark sugar crystals such as Rapadura or Sucanat. These are much less processed than white sugar or the nearly white sugars such as Florida Crystals or what is often labeled as Organic Sugar. Molasses is actually the stuff taken out during the purifying of white sugar and contains a lot of minerals, but it has a taste fitting for some recipes, such as molasses cookies, or you could just get used to it.

    When we bake sweets at home (which is rare), we use whatever we have on hand. We use honey, organic off-white sugar, dates or Sucanat. No fake sugars. Neither of us has diabetes or blood sugar problems. We don’t worry too much about how nutrient-dense the sweetener we are using, though we certainly don’t use regular white sugar. We don’t eat too much of the home baked.

    My wife eats far less sweets than I do. I do have to stay away from things like cookies, because I just turn into the cookie monster! It’s funny though, because I actually prefer my desserts to be not too sweet, but most store bought cookies (aka Pamela’s choc chip) are certainly very sweet. Cookies for me seem to trigger that sort of mindless eating where I have eaten 3 or 4 cookies in a matter of 2 minutes and I haven’t had my evening meal yet. In Germany a few years ago, I went for a hike. I first stopped at the non-health-food grocery store and bought some things for a lunch. I also bought what looked like a peach puff pastry because I wanted a sweet and all the German baked goods were so good (yup, white sugar and white flour, except for their sourdoughs). I was pleasantly surprised when I bit into the pastry during my lunch break and noted how not-sweet it was. It was really good. It was made in the in-store bakery and had a list of ingredients on it. Out of the the 6 or 7 ingredients, the last one was “Zucker” (Sugar). I bet if American tastebuds where more like the Germans, we’d have a whole lot less diabetes, Sucanat or not. It’s ironic, too, because I had assumed that the German baked goods where just as sweet if not more so than standard American sweets.

    Reply
    • I cut out ALL forms of sugar and sweetner completely for about 6 months. It wasn’t as hard as it sounds, but I did often tire of eating so many things that tasted bitter. Sometimes I just wanted some relief from bitter.

      Not eating anything sweetened opens your tastebuds up to things that are naturally sweet. Most food tastes so much better and more intense. Who knew brussels sprouts taste like they have sugar sprinkled on them? But it also seemed to magnify bitter flavors–behind the sweetness of brussels sprouts there’s a hint of bitterness, too. On the rare occasion I’d taste something actually sweetened, it tasted horribly sweet, too much! I find I can also smell sugar and sweetener now–it’s not a pleasant smell.

      BUT, sometimes it’s just nice to have a treat. This winter I’ve been wanting some hot chocolate, for example. I make it with cocoa powder and coconut butter. It’s tolerable without being sweetened, but so nice with just a tiny bit of sweetness to counteract the bitter. Or I’ve made a homemade grain free “nutola”, but it’s not pleasant without a tiny bit of sweet.

      Dr. Jay Wortman (a physician who treats metabolic obesity–see the documentary “My Big Fat Diet”) says that he prefers his patients use artificial sweeteners rather than sugar in any form because while there’s speculation that AS may not be safe “we KNOW sugar is not safe.” It’s a little extreme, but it gets the point across.

      A little xylitol goes a long way–I use a fraction of what most recipes call for in the occasional things I use it in. For me, with metabolic issues and poor tolerance to sugar in any form, the ability to have a taste good sweetener like xylitol is a very nice–and very occasional–treat. I know I can survive without it, but life is better if I don’t have to.

      Reply
  132. I’m not sure I understand why so many people are opposed to natural sugars like raw honey or sucanat as an occasional sweetener? Just the term “sugar substitute” screams “unnatural” to me. If it is Candida problems they must realize there is more to it than just sugar consumption.

    Reply
  133. Thank you for the info. I’ve been using small amounts of hardwood xylitol with great results (no abdominal issues, nor heartburn or reflux, etc). It’s really the only sweetener I can use–everything else tastes vile and causes problems for me. Stevia tastes like eat poison smells to me.

    I appreciate the info on how it’s refined (how can they call it a “natural” sweetener when it must be so highly processed?? ).

    But I was wondering, in the absence of studies, what your basis is for statements about the effects of xylitol in the gut during digestion? If, as you say “There is evidence that xylitol can indeed help encourage a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria found in the ear canal and sinus cavities and that a therapeutic dose of xylitol can help resolve an infection in these areas quickly with no medication required.” Why would this be different in the gut??

    And is there dicumented evidence of heavy metal residue in xylitol?

    Reply
  134. I am REALLY bumming right now bcz I ordered a HUGE bag of xylitol (and I mean huge-50 pounds) to stock up for a couple of years. I tried and tried to research and could find nothing adverse in my findings. Gosh, I am feeling very uneasy now.
    Also, just in the last month, I’m finding myself outrageously emotional, nails are totally flaking in layers and a couple of joints are hurting. Makes me wish I had someone to really check me out! I need a naturapath!!

    Reply
  135. I really appreciate helpful information, but this article does have self-conflicting info in it. Sarah, you mention the issue of possibly there being metals left in the xylitol from processings, but this quote from Natural News (the article written by Ravi) states that there is NO metal left in the xylitol:

    4. The resulting syrup, now free of acetic acid, hydrolyzing acid, nick-aluminum and other residues.

    This is the article you are citing above.

    Furthermore, everyone is in a tizzy about xylitol and dogs, but as few as 7 grapes or raisins can kill a dog: http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/raisins.asp
    and only 2 ounces of baker’s chocolate to kill a 20 pound dog: http://animals.howstuffworks.com/pets/question348.htm

    So I think we need to keep our heads on straight. I am sure few dog owners keep raisins and chocolate out of their homes.

    Also, I only use USA produces birch xylitol so I appreciate the concern about China.

    Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/022986.html#ixzz2EOAsM2a4
    Adrienne\’s last post: Dairy Free Pumpkin Cheesecake, GF SF Thumbprint Cookies, BBQ Veggie Chips, Vegan Mayo and More!

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  136. I remember having to take my dog to the vet because she ate a package of gum with xylitol in it, which is apparently poisonous to dogs. I have seen so many bloggers recommend using xylitol in homemade toothpaste, and I have never had a good feeling about that. Thanks for this info!

    Reply
  137. I’ve seen several comments on toothpaste, so I’m assuming mouthwash with xylitol would be a bad idea too? Tom’s is the only natural one I can find though. Since I use their toothpaste, it’s likely that I’m getting xylitol with that too.

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  138. my dentist was quite pleased when I told him I’d made toothpaste with xylitol in it (although the hygienist gave me a hard time for not having any fluoride in there), and my baby’s dentist gave me xylitol wipes and told me not to nurse him to sleep, and to wipe his teeth with the wipes after his night nursing session. (I haven’t done it, because it’s a hassle, and I don’t believe breastmilk gives babies cavities.)

    Reply
  139. I get a neural responce that leads be to believe the refineing process has a chemical process with a protiene I cannot process….I get the same responce form MSG, Tapioca, Agar, Potato Starch, Corn Starch…………….its IN the Science somehwere!

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing this, as I too am sensitive to those things you mentioned, so would probably have the same issue with xylitol. I was going to make toothpaste with it since I’d heard so much about it helping with cavaties. Right now I’m using Tropical Traditions toothpaste and like it.

      Reply
  140. Aloha, I have been using JustLikeSugar for a few years now and reaaaly like it and believe it is safe. I would appreciate it if there were bad news about it, to be informed. Mahalo!

    Reply
  141. I’m also curious about the issue of xylitol in toothpaste. I was under the impression it was added to help with cavities, not to sweeten the toothpaste. I assume that you’re not ingesting it in large amounts if you’re not actually swallowing your toothpaste, but I would like to know your thoughts on this. I don’t think it’s worth throwing out the rest of the bottle, but I’m thinking I will buy the version “without xylitol” next time.

    Reply
  142. Please comment about gum alternatives. I did not know this information before and have been chewing B Fresh gum which is sweetened with non-GMO xylitol. I try not to chew much gum, but every now and then gum comes in handy when driving and I need something to help me stay awake. Or, like the person above commented, gum can help with a queasy stomach in a pinch. I will look forward to reading a response from you about gum. Thank you.

    Reply
  143. I knew I was right about Xylitol… Even when people said it’s good for you, I didn’t believe it. Thanks for telling the truth.

    Reply
  144. Chewing on real mint is great too, for a breath freshener. Having a mint plant in the house is pretty easy. I find again, coconut oil is a great freshener, even with garlic overdose. Either pulling– or swishing, or brushing.

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  145. My husband needed some breath fresheners and tried sucking on Xylitol mints for a while. He started getting joint pain. It got pretty bad. He quite using the mints and his joint pain disappeared. So, I believe it is harmful.

    Reply
  146. To settle my gut, I use probiotic drinks, I love how easy it is to make kefir water, but homemade from raw milk kefir milk or counter top yogurt (get the culture on etsy). Drinking bentonite clay water was the most amazing clam gut feeling I had in forever….I feel normal! Probiotics, of other kinds as well, such as home fermented cabbage, or sauerkraut, or any other vegetable. Ferment. You gut may love it too. For instant relief, laying my belly on the earth works in less than 5 minutes. And it stays.

    Reply
    • Hi Shar I do a lot of sauerkraut at home,rwa milk kefir etc,but never bentonite clay water can you tell me how do you do it please.I do make also kombucha from sarah the h.h economist recipe,well tomorrow is my date to check on it,so far looks good

      Reply
  147. any suggestions for a healthy peppermint gum to chew when needed. I tend to chew peppermint gum if my stomach is a little queasy and it helps. Years ago I gave up aspartime and sugar and thought the gum with xylotal (Peelu brand) was a healthy alternative. Would love to hear of an alternative to this as I was unaware of the risks of consuming.

    thanks

    Reply
    • Have you tried using peppermint essential oil? doTERRA sells some that is encapsulated in little beadlets! Awesome! You can totally avoid the nasty gum base chemicals.

      Reply
  148. TOOTHPASTE –
    Please please, remember homeopathic medicines, a direct bloodline in the mouth , DIRECT, to the blood stream, faster than the gut, and directly to the brain, the nervous system xylitol seems to target.
    I leave sweeteners out of my toothpaste, and they are fine, fresh….put essential oil of mint in there…even baking soda alone. Perhaps if you need sweet toothpaste, you have an addiction to sweets. Isn’t it counter-intuitive to brush with sugar???? Brush with just coconut oil….anti microbial, whitens teeth….or now, there is a stick off a certain tree, inexpensive, no plastics, and people report that it is better for mouth health all around. It is on amazon. How cheap and easy to pack for overnights and air travel! I understand they last a real long time, and I am anxious to try it.
    Sugar in toothpaste = oxymoron, to me anyway.

    Reply
    • Xylitol is a natural sugar. One of the major bacteria in your are S. Mucans, this is the main bacteria that causes dental caries in the oral cavity. This bacteria cannot ingest xylitol, which therefore just ends up being another bacteria in your mouth. When you ingest any other type of sugar, this bacteria will ingest it and produce an acid attack on your teeth that can last up to 20 minutes each attack, more true in high sugary drinks. The dental community places this substance in high regards, due to the lack of its carcinogenic effect. There is no other sugar that does this and based on scientific evidence and research which I have personally read up on, this is a great product for patients with Xerostomia, which is increasing due to medications and systemic conditions on the rise or children/adults with a high risk for caries. The reason we get caries is because of the pH in our saliva, if the pH drops below 4 in the mouth (which is the level where the enamel will start to deminerlize) the the caries process begins. As for xylitol, I have not seen any damaging effects from the numerous studies I have read except that is it dangerous to pets, especially to dogs. Besides name calling isn’t necessary.

      Reply
      • this is exactly right…the xylitol is mainly meant, and effective, for tooth exposure, NOT swallowing. Does nothing for cavities if swallowed but helps reverse tooth decay when applied to teeth directly (best through gum, brushing, and rinsing). Being someone who has spent WHOLE life battling cavities and dental disease and someone who researched out the wazoo and tried the Weston Price way, ONLY xylitol has helped with my problems!

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  149. I bought a bag of xylitol a few years ago. Baked with it and when I ate the treat my mouth went numb! I returned the bag and never used it again. Yuck!

    Reply
    • I’d love to know too! I’ve been using tea tree oil and olive oil for my kids ear infections, but I’d be very interested to know if Xylitol worked too. Could you make a syrup out of it and drop small amounts in the ear so bypassing the digestive system? Or is that weird?

      Reply
    • There is a saline based nasal spray product called Xlear with xylitol in it. It has helped me with my chronic sinus problems like nothing else, and also helps with regular allergies. I use it daily and have even warded off colds, I believe, with increased use when I feel something is off. From what I have read by the Dr who developed it, the sugar alcohol looks like food to bacteria, but they can’t digest it and get removed as it drains from your sinuses. So you would indeed be ingesting small amounts. It’s the same method for why xylitol prevents cavities via bacteria in your mouth. There was a Finnish study that found the correlation of xylitol gum helping to prevent ear infections in children – but they needed to chew about 5 pieces a day, so pretty frequently.

      Reply
        • I’m glad you appreciated my comment, though I’m not sure I really said anything about it being dangerous. Some people are indeed sensitive to xylitol as you mentioned, so any application of it, not just eating, may cause a reaction. And it is true xylitol is very dangerous to dogs (as is chocolate, other common human foods, and drugs like ibuprofen.) This nasal spray has literally been a godsend for me and I consider it *far safer* than any antihistamine or other OTC drug most people are more than willing to use, often daily and for the longterm. But I personally think the safest sweetener to use is… to break your sweet tooth addiction.

          Reply
          • Oh, sorry Liz,
            My point being, that if this is how it acts, it explains how it may be useful on a zone and sparsely used, such as the ear or the throat, although, I would use other means that work if at all possible, as it seems it is like a pesticide or herbicide–it wipes out what is there – which is why if you consume it, or take it every day, or often, or ingest it – it is going to kill the beneficials as well as the ones causing trouble. Your explanation of how it works makes this entirely plausible. May help boost a weak system……that is if that is how our bodies work. I have heard recently a new theory on germs and blood and defenses that is very interesting indeed. Of course, way off the theories we have been “operating” under since they were proposed, on the germ theory – that the little dots in our blood are morphing cells that do their jobs, they can first become bacteria, then virus, then fungus, and if need be morph to decomposers, all doing their jobs in our body, trying to heal it, restore it…..and not the villians, not the ones in our blood anyway. If we breath at all we get all the germs there are in the environment.
            So, rinsing with a neti pot gives the body a break, a physical break from the air microbes, as X would also. But I wouldn’t use Roundup, glyphosate, or 2, 4 D (etc -the agent orange compound) either, not when nature has clean good options.
            I see how X works though, and why it can seem to be helpful to some applications, and very nasty too.

            Sugar – ferments kill that craving for me – and the desire for wheat binging. When I make my yogurt or milk kefir, I strain them, and have plenty of whey liquid in the fridge to cure the craves. Sauerkraut fresh ferment as well, kombucha, kefir water – ferments.

            I do not mean to be rude, Liz, just processing the contributions. I can see with your description why it works in the ear, on the throat, but also why it causes so much damage and is not a long term, or repeat performance chemical for me, nor my kids.

            It doesn’t know when to stop killing microbes either, it is rather indiscriminate.

            I would never use it, nor any other -itol

            Here we use raw local honey and maple syrup.
            To heal the teeth, I agree the X factor would be my first go-to, not a refined chemical.

  150. Wow. I can vouch for several truths in your article from my personal experience. For 6 years, I drank a sport/energy drink sweetened with Xylitol on a daily basis. As the years progressed, the effect on my bowels became extreme – like immediate flushing! Also, a hair analysis showed a build up of heavy metals, especially lead (though not sure where that is coming from yet). All the effects you describe fit my experience to a T. Thank you for looking into this product!

    Reply
  151. If it comes from the birch “xyla,” then why is it hydrogenated sugar? Is the xyla from birch *not* considered hydrogenated sugar? I also thought that with corn they got it from the cobs, therefore not from the actual sugar, found in the kernels (though yes, I would not want anything from corn, especially GMO). I had seen on the WAPF website that xylitol was frowned upon for the way they process it, but I’ve also read they’ve been using it in Northern Europe since WWII and it was naturally extracted from birch trees. What’s the truth?

    And what about other “sugar alcohols” like erythritol, sorbitol, malitol, etc?

    What do you use for sweetener? I have coconut sugar and may just start using that… I just like a little in my cuppa coffee every morning, and of course sometimes need something for baked goods.

    Reply
  152. Thank you for doing the research on this, Sarah. I’ve been giving my kids non-GMO xylitol gum every day for several years now, in addition to using xylitol toothpaste. I stopped using xylitol for baking two years ago, due to it’s diuretic properties, which made me suspicious. I now use coconut sugar. What do you think of that?

    Reply
  153. We use xylitol toothpaste, so were not swallowing it, what do you think about that? Is it still bad that we use it 3 times a day? If so, would you recommend a different tooth paste?

    Reply
    • THE best, best toothpaste out there…BAR NONE…made by a company in Australia called miessence…no chemicals used in any of their products what-so-ever…not even in the processing of any of the ingredients. Their toothpastes (some) are sweetened slightly with stevia. Many of their products are certified food grade organic. You will not find better quality products anywhere in the world if you are concerned about keeping toxic chemicals out of you and your kids. See my website…

      Reply
  154. I make homemade toothpaste. Xylitol combats the bitterness of essential oils and baking soda used. So its no safe fir toothpaste either?

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    • We make our own toothpaste too, and use xylo for it’s antimicrobial effect along with coconut oil. I’m not ready to chuck my recipe in the bin yet…Grrrr! :-) My liitle ones do ingest it because they haven’t gotten the whole brush-then-spit thing down yet. Now I’m worried. Somebody hit us with some hard facts about toothpaste please?!

      Reply
      • Instead of using the xylitol or any other sweetener for toothpaste for it’s antibacterial properties, try adding a few drops of tea tree oil to your homemade toothpaste. It has the same antibacterial properties with no side effects.

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  155. Instead of xylitol what do you recommend be used for baking for people with diabetes or candida problems? Is coconut sugar good? I know honey is healthy but I’ve heard it’s not the best for people suffering from candida issues. I personally don’t like stevia because it tastes like artificial sweetener to me.

    Reply
  156. Thanks for the info. I use stevia. Tried to grow it, but couldn’t keep it well enough for using. I get Green Leaf clear drops. A little goes a long way.
    Thanks again, very helpful. I enjoy your posts!
    Linda

    Reply
  157. Pingback: Xylitol: Not as Sweet As It’s Cracked Up to Be | Muskegonvegan's Blog

  158. Fascinating post! Like others, I’ve been very skeptical of xylitol and had this instinctive aversion to it although I couldn’t say why and hadn’t researched it yet. Now I’m glad I was skeptical!

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  159. I’ve always been leery of xylitol. The name makes me think of prescription meds, not a sweetener. Also remembering how agave nectar was all the rage. I almost bought some but glad I thought it was too expensive… then finding out how bad it really was. I hate wasting money. Thank you for bringing xylitol to light!

    Reply
      • I am really torn about this.. I have been giving my 2 year old the mints for a couple months after the dentist found cavities. The xylitol has been really helpful in stopping the cavity growth. I have also been giving her CLO and I have tried a couple different ways to give her butter oil but she does not like it. I am hesitant to give up the xylitol mints until she is older and until she is done breastfeeding ( I guess that can contribute to the cavities) Do you have any good ideas for sneaking butter oil into her diet?

        Reply
        • Lisa

          Don’t worry about breastfeeding and cavities. I have had this debunked so many times (Dr. Jack Newman, La Leche League…). In my own life, the child who nursed the longest has had the best teeth. Not exactly a scientific survey…He had a bad round about the age of two, when I was told to stop nursing. I was once a lactation consultant so I did the research…it is a rare child who actually has dental problems that can be tracked only to breastfeeding. Anyway, we persisted and his teeth remained nice and healthy after that first blip (which was probably an in-utero issue anyway).

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          • So not true! You wouldn’t believe how many little patients in our office have had their front teeth extracted from prolonged nursing on demand. One had better make sure that all the preventive measures are in place.

        • Hi Lisa,
          You are not alone in your concerns. Two of my four children have had serious tooth decay and all were breastfed on cue and at night as long as they desired. I have read Cure Tooth Decay and tried unsuccessfully to promote healthy teeth through diet, even putting our family on GAPS. I have come to the conclusion that, though the cause of tooth decay is multi-faceted, it is of paramount importance to brush teeth before bed and not nurse until morning. The mouth does not produce saliva during sleep and if there are cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth, they will have hours and hours to feed on the teeth. Daytime nursing is very different from nighttime nursing. I did not follow this advice and now, though I followed every bit of natural advice and researched ad nauseum, including the experts listed in JP’s response, my toddler’s top four teeth have crumbled to the gumline, the infection has spread to the roots, an abscess has developed to drain the puss, and three new cavities have taken hold of her molars.
          If what you are doing is not working, follow your instincts and use western medicine to save your child’s teeth and your sanity. Don’t take the advice from someone without personal experience to, “Don’t worry…” If you are worried, that is your inner wisdom telling you something needs to be done.

          Reply
          • Hi Elise I was in the plan to buy the book of Cure Tooth decay,but after your post I’m not sure ,what you think

          • maggie,
            I still think Cure Tooth Decay is an amazing book, however if your baby already has dental caries/cavities, a diet change alone is not sufficient to save her teeth. I have learned this twice the hard way. Reading the book will teach you a lot, but in addition to what you learn through the book, you might need to consider night weaning and a trip to the dentist. A book I wish I had read is called, Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye http://www.drellie.com/

        • Xylitol saved a trip to emergency for my husband. Some time ago my husband had a serious toothache. It was a weekend with dentist offices closed. I went to the internet to find natural remedies. I tried several and had little help for a short time. It got so bad I was about to take him to emergency when I tried Xylitol. I diluted it in some water and within a short time of flushing his teeth with the Xylitol mixture the pain went away. I am not giving up my Xylitol yet.

          Reply
      • Makes sense to give children Xylitol for sweetener, if children are already using Xylitol toothpaste and mouthwash regimen. I don’t like vast differences in sweetness – from toothpaste to mouthwash to food. My enamel is very thin, teeth are seriously cracked, splitting, breaking due to radiation poisoning (Depleted Uranium dust on contaminated military equipment returning to U.S. from Middle East battlefields). Anything acid-y or very sweet can trigger a response from my salivary gland, cause throbbing in my tooth roots.

        Reply
      • I’ve found the best way to prevent tooth decay and bad breath is to put several tsp. of xylitol in a bottle of Plax or mouthwash and swish for about three minutes after brushing in the am and before bed, I do spit it out rather than ingest it at this time. I wake up without that ghastly morning breath and haven’t had a cavity in years! The Healthy Home Economist needs to site the actual studies that show harm. I’ve yet to find any valid double blind studies that demonstrate harm in humans. I have a small dog and I believe she did get a bit of Xylitol by mistake and she seems just fine. I do however keep anything with xylitol in it away from my dog. I don’t doubt that it can be harmful to dogs, just as dogs cannot metabolize grapes, tomatoes, onions or chocolate. And check this out, turkey is also bad for dogs!

        Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Yes, use the whole green stevia leaf. The extracts are highly processed. And don’t overdo … I’ve talked to folks who are absolutely addicted to stevia which is a problem just like being addicted to sugar or being addicted to anything. Nothing wrong with satisfying the natural sweet tooth, but moderation is always key and use whole, unprocessed sweeteners.
      Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist\’s last post: Xylitol: Not as Sweet As It’s Cracked Up to Be

      Reply
          • Once a day is a habit? Ok, that leads me to ask…..what makes a habit bad? I mean….an addiction/habit to a harmful substance…ya, I can see that….but if whole leaf stevia is fine…..why is ONCE a day…or even more than that….a harmful habit? An addiction can be formed to anything. You could eat chicken breast twice a day or lots of spinach but I doubt anyone would say that was a ‘habit’ that needed to be stopped. I’m so confused. I have nothing against honey and other caloric/natural sweeteners….but where is the problem in using stevia multiple times a day? And why are habits bad? Everyone has a routine/habits. Not all are harmful…many are even helpful…..if using whole stevia…why would stevia addiction be bad? And if someone doesn’t have reactions to xylitol…what then? Is it ok?

      • I have ulcerative colitis, and Im trying to follow a very strick diet, and ran across this post on xylitol. Can anyone tell me with comparison to Stevia, if Monk Fruit (which is Dextrose, monk fruit extract) ok to use in place of or not?
        So Confussed:(

        Reply
  160. Sarah,
    I never trust anything that is pure white, especially when it comes to sweeteners! Even a small amount of xylitol gives myself and my son violent intestinal distress. I had no idea it was helpful for ear infections. I wonder if ear drops made using warm water and xylitol would be helpful. Any idea?
    Alison\’s last post: Portuguese Milk Mayonnaise

    Reply
  161. My husband and I both get the most horrific headaches after eating ANY sugar alcohol, even in small amounts. And it’s not a normal headache, it’s a tightening at the base of my neck that goes up the side of my head, as if the sugar is actually affecting my spine and nervous system directly.

    Reply
    • The exact same thing happens for me. Same type of headache, too. Any sort of sugar alcohol, free glutamate(msg), or hydrolyzed protein. Don’t know if xylitol triggers the headaches though. I know that I can have sweet leaf with no troubles. Would be interesting to see.

      Reply
    • I went to the emergency room last night due to what felt like an anaphylactic reaction to Xylitol. I have had shortness of breath ever since ordering and eating xylitol candies from the Internet. I had NO idea what was causing these symptoms for the last month, tired, diarrhea, and severe shortness of breath. Each day I would suck on these candies to take my mind off the SOB and little did I know I was poisoning myself!!!! Finally, last night my tongue felt like it was swelling and my throat felt like it was closing, went to ER…finally put it together that for the last 2 days prior to this, I had been eating these candies. I was feeling a little better when I had switched to Ricola the prior week and that’s how I finally made the connection. This stuff is going in the trash…I’m switching to raw honey and no more artificial sweeteners. Not worth my health!

      Reply
  162. Do we know why the lab rats died? It usually says on bags of xylitol to not feed it to pets. Is that similar to the recommendation for not giving them chocolate?

    Reply
    • Some animals do not seem to handle xylitol well – it’s not clearly understood and needs further study, but dogs are particularly affected (also probably recognized more in dogs because they are most common table food thieves). The gist is, the dog’s body mistakes the xylitol for regular sugar, at least initially (within hours), and releases a large amount of insulin. Since there isn’t enough sugar there for all the insulin that is released, the blood sugar drops precipitously and hypoglycemic episodes occur. Later on (days), there appears to be a toxic effect on the liver and some dogs may go into liver failure. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much xylitol to affect pets, especially small breed dogs, and many people are unaware that it is harmful or may not even know that xylitol was in the food. If you think your pet may have eaten some, call your local emergency vet or Pet Poison Control right away.

      That being said, I don’t know anything about xylitol having any of those effects in humans.

      Reply
      • Locally, xylitol is used by landowners to poison coyotes. It dosn’t take much. I don’t keep any of it in my home (gum, candy…) out of fear that my dog should find it. A stick of xylitol gum could kill a dog.

        Reply
        • Mary Beth – just wondering if you keep raisins, grapes, and chocolate out of your home b/c they can kill dogs as well. I don’t mean this to be caustic – I am really curious. I think a lot of folks get really upset about xylitol but don’t think that there are other things that we eat that will kill dogs or make them seriously sick.
          Adrienne\’s last post: Dairy Free Pumpkin Cheesecake, GF SF Thumbprint Cookies, BBQ Veggie Chips, Vegan Mayo and More!

          Reply
          • Chocolate and raisins won’t necessarily kill your dog, but xylitol will since it poisons them rather quickly. With “chocolate” these days, there’s so much variation, and it’s often so diluted with emulsifiers and other stuff (especially cheaper chocolate) that a dog wouldn’t likely get enough to die unless it’s pure dark chocolate. When I once spoke to a vet about feeding my dog fruits and veggies (or maybe we just discussed veggies), her main concern was the onion family. Also, problem wth xylitol and dogs is that many people do not realize it’s harmful since it hasn’t been listed for years on lists of things to avoid. So people don’t worry or realize until it’s too late.

          • I stopped buying grapes because my vet says they cause kidney failure in puppies, small dogs. I won’t eat raisins, so don’t buy them. And don’t buy chocolate because sugar content elevates my blood pressure, and because of my dog. I am seriously ill, house-bound and alone except for my dog. All foods that I have to cook from scratch because of my health are harmless to my dog. So we eat together at meal time. Organic pumpkin pancakes are one of our favorite foods, without syrup.

          • Adrienne,

            I don’t mean to be extremely rude, however xylitol is far more harmful to dogs than grapes and chocolate combined. Our family learned this the hard way last night. Xylitol is one of the most poisoning products a dog can ingest. Even the smallest amount can be fatal. I was greatly ignorant to this prior to last nights events. Santa purchased gum for our boys stockings and our 1 year old boxer (70 lbs) got into a package. Within 30 minutes he was stumbling – then immediately started vomiting and collapsed to the floor. We rushed him to the pet ER and it was found that he was in extreme liver distress. He had to get IV fluids, he is home now however, he is on a medicine to help with his liver levels. It is not guaranteed that he is even going to be OK. We have to have blood tests daily to check his liver levels. Xylitol is EXTREMELY dangerous for dogs. Far more dangerous than grapes and chocolates.
            I realize this post was made over a year ago. I happened upon this page because I was researching more about xylitol and pets.
            Please educate yourself on what the REAL effects of xlyitol are before making such comments. Yes, chocolate and grapes can be harmful – but again, xylitol is far more dangerous. Even in the smallest amounts.

          • I bought xylitol sweetener packs per dental hygienists emphatic advice & after cursory search on xylitol that presented it as miracle loved by ADA. This was about Dec 7. Was told by hygienist only needed 5 exposures per day to keep plaque from growing on teeth. I use turbinado sugar but mixed with xylitol to get my 5 exposures in. Each pack was 4 grams only used 5 a day. Until Dec 24. Excuse graphics but after 1st week my stools changed from soft to loose to water and no processing of anything to lots of mucus with water. Lost appetite – saliva affected too – and diarrhea got very severe and scary. By 29th I went to emergent clinic – no fever at any point in this, no blood either, got strongest anti diarrheal that did not help in 24 hours, went back – did stool sample (still don’t have those results but that’s for viral/bacterial anyway – know its xylitol) Also from 24 to 31 cramping, gurgling, weight loss – scary. 31st went to ER got IV, CT scan, blood/urine – all came back okay for what they look for. Now on BRAT diet. Every 2 hour diarrhea stopped by end of 31st but still liquid watery mucus stool. xylitol is rat poison for everybody and should be yanked from the shelves. I hope I get my gut back soon and have a normal bm again.

        • Exactly. The fact that rats do not handle xylitol well does not stand as strong evidence against xylitol for human consumption. We all know that dogs should not be fed chocolate, as it can be deadly for them. However, well made chocolate (no refined sugar, organic ingredients, etc.) can be wonderful for the body. Unfortunately, the article is approaching xylitol from a biased viewpoint which does not present enough to counterpoint the research that suggest xylitol may have benefits.

          Reply
      • I love alarmists, they always act like they’re taking your health seriously.
        The reason why it kills rats is because rats and mice can’t pass gas.

        Xylitol doesn’t raise insulin per the GLP-1. But on the other hand, you can take Metformin and get similar effects. and it does raise GLP-1 with the same side effects.
        Speaking of which, personally with my systematic mayhem, things like barley and yogurt makes me sick. I looked into probiotics and realized why my own body rejects them.

        Here’s a really novel thought. Sugar. Brown Rice syrup. Eating and drinking things without syrup. Portion control.

        The more INS-1 receptor you have triggering IGF-1 growth through the cavoelae-1 instead of all of these gimmicks, you might simply allow your body to sort itself out!

        Reply
        • the effects of aspartame (i.e. the only sweetened gum you can find in the store)
          will make a dog sick and if they eat enough can kill them just like grapes/raisins (kidney failure) or xylitol. patients with phenylketonuria need a choice. the list of side effects from aspartame are staggering; an yet, people continue to consume this product in mass quantities (soda, food, gum, sweeteners). all foods should be evaluated by the consumer and any risk to the household should be their choice based on informed consent. . personally, I want to be able to choose a gum without aspartame.

          Reply
  163. Oy, scary stuff. We’ve been using a toothpaste containing xylitol, and it has definitely helped our mouths, seeming to help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria. No more waking up with a nasty taste in the mouth, and healthier gums. Mind you, at the same time we switched toothpastes, we took to making and eating fermented foods especially sauerkraut, and that, too had a profound effect.

    Reply
    • Read the label before you hit the panic button. And don’t worry. I use Spry cinnamon gum with Xylitol. Supposed to use in combination with Spry toothpaste and dental care products. Manufacturers do not use hydrogenated anything: vegetable glycerin (humectant), non-GMO soy lecithin (emulsifier) and only flavored with natural cinnamon oil. If this product or accompanying toothpaste caused gut problems or contributed to candida / Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, I would know immediately. I suffer Gulf War Illness, which means military vaccine destroyed my gut 23 years ago. I suffer pancreatitis from Hep B vaccine, plus a host of small intestine viral and bacterial infections from too many vaccines administered too close together, too many at a time, at much higher than “booster” serum amounts. I had to get away from High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) intoxicating everything at the grocery store. I was forced to start cooking from scratch because HFCS put on 25 pounds of fluids my heart and liver could not process (Congestive Heart Failure). It took almost a year to take it off, start feeling like a chronically ill human again, rather than walking dead.

      Reply
      • I am in the same boat as you are – decades of antibiotics, mashed together in basic training then more antibiotics and other chemicals destroyed my immune system.

        I have lupus, Sarcoidosis both of which cause painful tumors which grow in light.

        We need a class action lawsuit to address the chemical damage done to so many without a single care.

        Not a single doctor AFTER the military spouse access I had for 33 years has opened my military records – they don’t want to know the scope of the damage they are dealing with and keep trying to throw steroids at me while I get sick with pneumonias every year for the past five years.

        I can’t get medical care WITH insurance from these clueless and inept “doctors” in the “real world”.

        Reply
      • Thank you for your service for our nation, and good luck. I too cook from scratch and it took getting used to and now is so much fun! Eat to live, not live to eat.

        Warmest Regards!

        Reply

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