Xylitol Side Effects

Most people do not experience any problems when using small amounts of xylitol. Side effects can occur with higher intakes, however. Very high doses of xylitol given by IV have been reported to cause high uric acid levels in the blood, changes in liver function tests, and high acid levels in the blood. More common side effects include diarrhea and gas.

Does Xylitol Cause Side Effects?

When used in small amounts, xylitol does not usually cause noticeable side effects for most people. However, higher intakes can cause problems, especially in individuals who are not accustomed to xylitol. Serious side effects are unlikely.
(This article covers many, but not all, of the possible side effects with xylitol. Your healthcare provider can discuss a more complete list of xylitol side effects with you.)

Reported Side Effects of Xylitol

Xylitol seems to be tolerated quite well, with most side effects being fairly minor. Like all sugar alcohols, xylitol can have a laxative effect, especially if consumed at high doses. This can cause diarrhea and gas. Just like with fiber intake, the laxative effects of this product can be minimized if you increase your intake gradually. Most people will not notice any laxative effect from the small doses found in chewing gums.
Very high doses of xylitol given by IV have been reported to cause high uric acid levels in the blood (which could increase the risk of kidney stones), changes in liver function tests (which could indicate stress to the liver), and high acid levels in the blood. These problems are not predicted to occur for other routes of xylitol use, such as in gum or candy.
Extremely high doses of xylitol given to laboratory animals for extended periods of time may increase the risk of tumor growth. This has not been shown to be the case in humans and is not predicted to be a problem, unless extremely high doses are taken for quite awhile.
It is possible, but not likely, for people to be allergic to xylitol, especially if substandard purification techniques are used, since xylitol is obtained from plants (usually birch trees). Let your healthcare provider know if you develop signs of an allergic reaction, such as:
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • A rash
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the mouth or throat.
Allergic reactions to this product also may cause mouth sores.
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