Ask a Healer Food Additives Series
Xylitol Safety and User-Reported Symptoms:
by N J Howell
Diabetics and Sorbitol
If you consume products containing xylitol, you may want to read about my experience with it as well as other information on health issue arising from the addition of this ingredient to foods and supplements.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol which may be extracted from a wide range of natural sources, including birch, corn husks, certain fruits, veggies and berries, etc. A lot of the unpleasant symptoms experienced from consuming xylitol are the same as those experienced from consuming sorbitol, which makes sense because both are sugar alcohols. Sorbitol is much the stronger of the two so those using xylitol may not notice the severity of symptoms they do with sorbitol, though this was certainly not the case with me. In my own case, both sorbitol and xylitol produce terribly painful gas and bloating as well as frightening check pain and tightness, charlie horses, and digestive / intestinal distress severe enough to need pain relievers.
Additional User-Reported Side Effects or Allergic Reactions from consuming Xylitol:
Swelling, Numbness, Tingling, Dizziness, Hives, Sleep Problems, Seizures, Breathing Problems, Fatique, Itching and Heart Rate Changes
This is just a partial list of symptoms and side effects that have been reported by those who consume products with xylitol. Please research further for the long, long, long list of xylitol-related complaints reported on various websites online. So, ss Xylitol safe? As I said on the article about sorbitol, there is no hesitation in the answer to this question for myself personally. For me, the resounding answer is NO.
How to Avoid Xylitol: If you choose not to consume xylitol, you will need to become an avid label-reader. I could list a few products here, taken from the xylitol website (they focus on companies that exclusively sweeten with xylitol) but xylitol is so widely used that it would be like a few needles in a very big haystack. Check labels for xylitol as well as other sugar alcohols which may cause similar reactions in some, such as sorbitol, malitol, erithritol, isomalt, lactitol, mannitol, etc.
Items Containing Xylitol: Rather than list thousands of items individually, I've listed some companies who produce gums, mints or other products that are 100% sweetened with xylitol: Xclear, Inc, Tundra Trading, Hershey's (Ice Breakers), Adams (Trident), Zellies, Emerald Forest, Dr. Johns, Globalsweet Other companies who include xylitol along with other sweetening ingredients are too numerous to mention, most commonly in diabetic products that are labeled "sugar-free". A few companies offering xylitol-containing items are Now Foods, Swanson Health Products, Epic and Xyloburst.
What are Excitotoxins?
Health Care Disclaimer: Healthy options for sweetening your foods include organic agave nectar (make sure it's agave and not high fructose corn syrup) and stevia. As far as I can tell (finding info on the FDA website that is easily readable is not always so easy) the FDA still maintains that xylitol is safe for human consumption, I did find a page advising that it can kill your pet. Dogs, ferrets, etc have died from ingesting xylitol. Read more about animal reactions to xylitol on the FDA website.