Guar gum obtained from guar plant has many health benefits and uses. It can be used for hair and skin care and has health benefits too. It prevents constipation if consumed in the proper dosage and has a soothing effect on people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome if consumed in the proper dosage.
Guar gum powder is a well known additive in many industries including food, pharmaceutical, paper, textile, agarbatti making, water purification, animal feed, nutritional foods and also in cosmetics. Guar gum forms hydrogen bond when mixed with water so it is chiefly used as as a thickener and stabilizer. Actually you will be surprised if you get to know the amount of products that has guar gum in it.
What Is Guar Gum?
Guar gum also called guaran is a polysaccharide that is extracted from guar beans whose botanical name is Cyamopsis Tetragonolobus. It is a well known thickening agent and is used extensively in food and medical industry. It is got from the seeds. Guar seed contains three parts – the inner germ, middle endosperm and the outer hull. The germ and hull of guar seeds are referred to as guar meal and it is very high in protein. Guar gum is is extracted primarily from the endosperm.
Guar Gum Common Names:
It is called Guar Ka Gum in Hindi and I couldn’t find the names of guar gum in other languages. The plant is called Goruchikkudu in Telugu, Gavar in Marathi, Kothavarangai in Tamil, Chavalikayi in Kannada and Guara in Punjabi.
How is Guar Gum Made?
After the seeds are harvested, they are spherical in shape, brownish in colour and small. The seeds are broken and the germ is separated from the endosperm resulting in two endosperm halves which are referred to as undehusked guar split.
After that the fine outer fibrous material which is called the husk is removed by polishing resulting in refined guar splits. The husk and the germ which are referred to as guar meal is used as a cattle feed. Guar splits are soaked in water and then crushed in machines without producing too much heat.
India is the largest producer of guar gum almost accounting for 80% of the world production. It is mainly grown in North Western states of India especially Rajasthan. India exports guar gum to many countries including United States China, Germany, South Africa, etc.
Guar Gum Chemical Components:
Guar gum consists of 5 to 6 % of protein, 75 to 85% galactomannan, 1 % ash, 8 to 14% moisture and 2 to 3% of fibre.
Guar Gum Uses:
1. Food Industry
Guar gum is extensively used in food industry due to its water retention capacity, evaporation reduction rate, altering freezing rate and altering ice crystal formation. Guar gum is used as a gelling, thickening, preserving, stabilizing, emulsifying, clouding and binding agent.
When added to breads and chapathi dough, it helps improve the moisture content and prevents staling. When added to pastries, it prevents soggy crust and adding guar gum makes the dough easy to work with. It is also added to dairy products like milk, yoghurt and liquid cheese as a stabilizing agent. Since it reduces crystal formation and extends shelf life, it is added to ice creams.
It is also used extensively in salad dressings, sauces, relishes, ketchups and most of the soups that we get in the markets as a thickener. It is also used as a binding agent in meat products. Though we don’t realize it, we do consume guar gum on a regular basis especially if we use store bought products often. Guar gum is added to pet foods as a thickening and stabilizing agent too.
2. In Cosmetic Industry
I started using guar gum in my cosmetic formulations for making homemade aloe vera gel. It helps make the aloe vera juice into a spreadable gel. I was also surprised to learn of its many other cosmetic uses. It is used in the manufacturing of toothpaste to make the filling flow easily out of the tube and it is also added to shampoos as a thickener.
It is added to creams and lotions to prevent separation of oil and water phases. It helps in easy spreadability of the lotion and also makes the after feel very agreeable. It is added to shaving creams as a stabilizer. It is also used as a thickener in cleansers and hair colorants. Finally it is also used in face packs and body spray formulations.
3. In Pharmaceutical Applications:
Since guar gum is non-toxic and biodegradable, it is extensively used in pharmaceutical applications. The reason it is so popular is it is very cost effective and obtained from natural resources which is very readily available. Gaur gum is used as a binding, disintegrating, thickening, stabilizing, emulsifying and suspending agent.
In drug industry, guar gum is used extensively as a binding agent and for targeted drug delivery. Since guar gum is broken down only in large intestine, it protects the drug from being released completely in the stomach and small intestine so it acts as a wonderful drug retardant. It can be used in solid, liquid and semisolid dosage forms.
4. Guar Gum Medicinal Uses:
Since guar gum is rich in water soluble fiber, it acts as a natural laxative and helps promote regular bowel movements thus giving good relief from constipation. Like any fiber rich ingredient guar gum has cholesterol and glucose lowering properties.
Consuming products to which guar gum is added decreases appetite and increases satiety thus helping us reduce the overall calorie intake so it helps with weight loss too. Guar gum also decrease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and diarrhea.
5. Guar Gum Side Effects:
Guar gum usually if added in 0.5 to 1% concentration is beneficial and does not have any negative side effects. The problem arises when it is added in large doses. Guar gum due to its slow digestion and satiety properties was used in weight loss products number of years before but it caused side effects like bowel obstruction as it was above the recommended dosage and the products were banned.
Consuming too much of guar gum can lead to diarrhea, abdominal bloating, stomach pain, constipation and gastric problems. Gaur gum also interferes with absorption of certain medications. Diabetic patients should be very careful when consuming products containing guar gum on a regular basis as it can lower blood sugar levels drastically especially if consumed along with diabetic medication. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should be careful about consuming guar gum based products.
Guar Gum Based Products In India:
Guar gum can be found in chapati based products, salad dressings, tomato sauce and ketchup, commercial bread and pastries, ice creams, store bought milk, milk shakes, yoghurt, processed meat, store bought cakes and biscuits, processed cheese and certain beverages.
Where To Buy Guar Gum?
At home, I use it for making homemade gel for face and hair and it works wonderfully. Guar gum is not easily available in shops but you can easily order it online. It is not very expensive, one kg costs around 700 rupees.
How To Use Guar Gum?
To use guar gum, take the guar gum and sprinkle it over water. Let it sit for a minute, it will form a layer on top. Now start whisking using a whisk, I use milk frother till it dissolves completely. It will form a gel as you whip. With this method guar gum clumps easily so I always use the second method.
Take guar gum powder and mix it in vegetable glycerine. It will dissolve completely and then mix it in water. This method will prevent clump formation. Using a whisk also will greatly prevent clumping. We should add the correct amount else it will thicken the liquid into a very thick mass.