Guar gum is obtained from endosperm of seeds of the Guar/Guar phalli/Gowar or Cluster bean plant. It is primarily the ground endosperm of guar beans prepared after de-husking the guar seeds. It is a water-soluble edible fibre and readily forms mucilage with water. It is white to yellowish white in colour, nearly odourless, free flowing powder with a bland taste. Guar gum is a high molecular weight carbohydrate.
By Ton Rulkens (Flickr: Cluster bean cluster)[CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Guar gum has wide variety of uses including medicinal. It is used as an emulsifier, thickener, stabilizer in food industry. Guar gum is used in bakery for increasing the dough volume and shelf life, thickening, as a stabiliser, and preventing loss of moisture. When used in cake mixtures, it improves the water retention in baked cake. It is also used as stabilizer and water crystallization inhibitor in frozen foods and ice-cream making. It is used as a thickener and stabilizer in soups, sauces, and ketchups.
It is also used in other industries such as oil drilling, paper industry, mining, and in cosmetic industry. In cosmetic industry, this gum is used for thickening, suspending, binding, and emulsifying the products like shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, and toothpastes.
As medicine, Guar gum is used to treat diabetes and high cholesterol. On oral intake, guar gum slows down the absorption of sugar and lipids from intestinal tract into the blood.
Constituent of Guar Gum
The chief constituent of guar gum is a Gallactomannan which is composed of galactose and mannose in a ratio of 1:2. It gives gelling or thickening property to guar gum.
Important Medicinal properties
Guar gum has cholesterol lowering, blood sugar lowering, appetite depressor, flatugenic, lipolytic and laxative properties.
Medicinal uses of Guar gum
- Guar gum is used for reducing cholesterol and blood sugar level.
- The intake of Guar gum in dose of 15g/day with normal diet reduces total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol significantly.
- The gum in dose of 5-10g decreases blood-glucose level in both insulin dependent as well as non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus patients.
- Intake of Guar gum orally with meals lowers post-prandial glucose levels in patients with type 1 diabetes.
- Studies done on mice show, decreases rate of stomach emptying resulting in retarded admission of glucose into small intestine, where absorption of glucose takes place.
- Guar gum is also used for treating diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), obesity, preventing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
- Guar gum is a bulking agent. Therefore it should not be taken in conditions with obstruction or narrowing of oesophagus or intestine.
- It can cause obstruction in bowel in case of dehydration.
- Guar gum lowers appetite.
- Guar gum has blood sugar lowering properties so monitor blood sugar and watch for signs of low blood sugar.
- Intestinal gas, diarrhoea, abdominal bloating, cramping and constipation may happen during initial use.
- Use only in recommended doses. Guar gum has water retaining capacity and it can swell 10-20 folds and may lead to bowel obstruction (or intestinal obstruction).
- Guar gum may affect the absorption of co-administered drugs. It is observed to slow the absorption of digoxin, acetaminophen and bumetanide and reduces the absorption of metformin, penicillin V, ethinyl estradiol and some formulations of glyburide.