Update: Xanthan Gum no longer an ingredient in Norm's Farms Elderberry Wellness Syrup

Update: Xanthan Gum no longer an ingredient in Norm's Farms Elderberry Wellness Syrup

Xanthan Gum? In Wellness Syrup? Not anymore!

Norm's Farms Elderberry Wellness Syrup has some pretty awesome ingredients.  We blend our Elderberry Extract with pure honey, cloves, cinnamon, water and a tiny bit of sugar to make a soothing syrup that will nurse you through a cold, flu, or an irritated throat.  Like our Elderberry Extract, our Wellness Syrup also contains Malic Acid to make it safe for bottling and it used to also contain an ingredient called Xanthan gum.  What is Xanthan gum and why did we decide to drop it from our recipe?


Named after the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris, Xanthan gum was first “discovered” by a team of USDA researchers in the 1960′s. In 1968 it was approved for use as a food additive in the US and Europe. Xanthan gum is created when these bacteria are placed in a growth medium that contains sugars derived from corn, soy, dairy or wheat and allowed to ferment. The bacteria consume all the sugars present in the mix and the resulting product of this fermentation process is then dried and powdered and sold as Xanthan gum.

Food Production and Home Recipes

Xanthan gum is used by food manufacturers for a lot of different reasons. It is used to stabilize emulsions and thicken products and it helps ingredients blend more effectively and stay blended while sitting on a shelf. Used in salad dressings to help oil and vinegar stay blended, Xanthan gum is also found as an oil substitute in fat-free salad dressings because it creates an “oily” mouth feel. You can also find this safe food additive in ice creams and other frozen products because it prevents the formation of ice crystals and helps keep the product smooth.  Only small amounts of it are needed to achieve these results; most food products contain less than .5% by weight or volume.

Xanthan gum is a suitable gluten alternative for baking too. It is used to give the dough or batter a "stickiness" that would otherwise be achieved with the gluten found in wheat flour. Home bakers with gluten allergies or gluten intolerance are now able to find Xanthan gum in most groceries in the baking aisle. Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods is just one example of commercially available Xanthan gum.

Food Allergies

Although the vast majority of industrially manufactured Xanthan gum contains far less than 20 ppm (parts per million) gluten, which is the EU limit for "gluten free" labelling, people who are extremely sensitive to gluten should avoid Xanthan gum made from wheat.

Because Xanthan gum can be made from a variety of source products that are common allergens, persons with known sensitivities or allergies to food products are advised to avoid foods including generic Xanthan gum or first determine the source before consuming the food. An allergic response may be triggered in people exceedingly sensitive to the growth medium, which is usually corn, soy, dairy or wheat.

Medicinal Uses

Interestingly, Xanthan gum also has medical uses. Some examples of medical uses include lowering blood sugar and total cholesterol in people with diabetes, as a laxative and as a saliva substitute in people with dry mouth.


A 1987 study in which five healthy men ate roughly 10 to 13 grams daily, which is considerably more than people would consume daily, found no adverse effects. Some people do report that Xanthan gum causes gas.

Why we decided to remove Xanthan Gum from Norm’s Farms' Elderberry Wellness Syrup recipe.

We've been including Xanthan Gum in our Wellness Syrup recipe for many years because of its ability to keep multi-ingredients products well blended.  It isn't a likely ingredient for our product line, though, given our drive to use only whole, real food ingredients in the products we make.  We received more than a few questions about why we were including this strange sounding ingredient, and, on the production floor, we found Xanthan Gum to be a tricky ingredient to deal with.  If not added at the right temperature, or with the right velocity of mixing and blending occurring, Xanthan Gum can clump up and ruin an entire batch.  So after years of fussing with both using and explaining it, we decided to run some experiments to see what would happen if we left it out.  The results were amazing!  The flavor actually improved a bit (it still tastes like Christmas, only better) and we saw no negative effects on the consistency of the syrup. 

We officially cut Xanthan Gum from our recipe in October of this year.  There may be a few bottles in distribution from earlier batches that do contain Xanthan Gum, so if avoiding this ingredient is important to you, be sure to read the label.  We hope to have run through all the Wellness Syrup containing Xanthan Gum within the next month or two.

Norm’s Farms Elderberry Wellness Syrup contains Elderberries, Honey, Water, Cinnamon, Cloves, Sugar, and Malic Acid. The sugar and Malic Acid are found in the following amounts in each bottle of Wellness Syrup:

Sugar : about 1 tsp per bottle, or .77% by volume.

Malic Acid: almost un-measurable, about .01% by volume

Norm's Farms hopes these Elderberry Wellness Syrup Facts about Xanthan Gum have made you a more informed consumer and we invite your questions and comments!
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