Karaya Gum is an exudate of sterculia trees and it is comprised of acid polysaccharide sugars such as galactose, galacturonic acid and rhamnose. Gum karaya is a one type of medicinal remedy, which is produced by a tree of genus sterculia in the India.
It mostly found in eastern and Western Ghats, Himalaya forest and west and central part of the India such as in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan etc. It is also available in Australia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sudan, Vietnam, etc. It is easily available throughout the year. Approximately 3000 to 4000 tons of gum karaya are produced every year in India. Chemically, it is one type of polysaccharide complex, which is formed by magnesium and calcium salt.
Synonyms of Gum Karaya
- Bassora Tragacanth
- Goma Karaya
- Gomme Karaya
- Gomme Kuteera
- Gomme Sterculia
- Gomme de Sterculia
- Indian Tragacanth
- Sterculia Gum
- Sterculia tragacantha
- Sterculia urens
- Sterculia villosa
Its plant size is medium approximately 15 meters. Color of flowers is in different varieties such as greenish and yellow. Its shape is like ‘sap’. It is like vegetable gum. It is the most common popular product of the forests.
Use in food
You can detect Karaya Gum in certain foods denoted by E416 number. The Gum Karaya is used as emulsifier and stabilizer in certain foods. It is also a thickener agent.
Health Benefits of gum karaya
It is one of the old types of natural gum also known as sterculia. It has been used in traditional medicines since 5000 years.
Gum Karaya has following health benefits and uses:
It is best used as laxatives. Its characteristic makes this very popular product. It forms a mucilaginous gel when it gets in contact with water.
Our body does not digest and absorb Gum Karaya Granules. It swells in the intestine, makes it dilate, and works as laxative.
So it is widely used in treat chronic constipation.
Adhesive for dental implants
Sometimes it is also used as an adhesive for dental implants. It is also used as the base of salicylic patches.
Gum karaya has some antibacterial and anti-inflammatory characteristics by which it is an effective remedy in sore throat. Due to this reason, it is also used as main ingredients for lozenges for the treatment of sore throat.
High blood sugar (Diabetes)
It also maintains normal blood sugars. Many anti-diabetic medicines contain Gum karaya.
Plasma Lipid levels
Some studies suggested that Karaya Gum decreases the plasma lipid levels and beneficial for people suffering from high cholesterol and high triglyceride levels.
It is also used in adhesive plasters after surgery or to soothe the skin or to sensitive skin.
Wounds & bed sores
It also used in the treatment of wounds and sores. It works by increasing the granulation and improve healing even in resistant or chronic bedsores.
In wound and sores, gum karaya is used in powder form. It promotes good epidermal growth in bedsores.
Uses of Gum Karaya
- It is also used in making of medical jellies and pastes. Backing and dairy industries are widely used gum karaya for dressing and binding.
- Karaya gum is used in the production of adhesives for ileostomy and colostomy.
- It is also used in hair dressing preparation lotions as cosmetic purpose.
- It is also used in different type of drug delivery systems.
- It is also used in making paper sheets because it has pulp binder properties, which help to adhere long fibers to each other. It also provides smoothening effect and strengthening of weak or thin paper.
Side effects of gum karaya
Side effects of Sterculia Gum are as follows:
Intake of gum karaya sometimes restricts the intestine and produces other medical complications. A person should drink lots of water with gum karaya intake.
Reduce absorption of other medicines
Another complication is that it reduces the effectiveness of other medicine.
Gum karaya produces mucilage, which restricts the intestine and reduces the absorption of the medicine.
So, if you want to take another medicine, consume gum karaya after one hour of medicine intake.
Diarrhea is a most common complication with high doses of gum karaya.
Safety of Gum Karya as food additive
Gum Karaya has been used as food additive since 1961 and no adverse effect is yet reported with small quantities of the sterculia gum. Therefore, it is considered a safe food additive for most of the people.