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Karaya Gum

Uses|Precautions & Warnings|Side Effects|Interactions|Dosage


What is Karaya gum used for?

Karaya gum (Sterculia urens) is a tree that mainly cultivated in India and Sri Lanka. The seeds, roots, and trunk are all edible, but the most medically and commercially important part of the tree is the gum that can be extracted from it.

While karaya gum does not possess strong intrinsic antimicrobial or anti-inflammatory effects, it is a versatile and useful ingredient in many drug preparations.

Due to its limited water-solubility and highly absorptive nature, it makes for an excellent hydrocolloid for treating wounds and as a gelling agent in cosmetics. It also contains dietary fiber and is useful as a bulk-forming laxative.

Karaya gum is commonly used as a/an:

  • Food additive
  • Stabilizer
  • Thickener, emulsifier
  • Denture adhesive
  • Hydrocolloid dressing
  • Laxative

How should I take Karaya gum?

Karaya gum is commercially available as a food-grade powder and can be added to a variety of dishes that require thickening or jellification. It is gluten-free and can be used together with gluten-free flours to improve the texture of baked goods.

Karaya gum is typically not available as the sole ingredient of a pharmaceutical preparation. Take or apply medications that contain karaya gum as directed on the product label or by a doctor.

How do I store Karaya gum?

This drug should be stored at room temperature (<30°C) and be protected from light and moisture. Do not allow this product to freeze. Always check the label before using this product. For safety, keep out of the reach of children and pets.

Do not use if the printed expiration date has passed, the product seal has been broken, or the product has changed in color, odor, or consistency.

Do not dispose of this product by pouring it down the drain, toilet, or into the environment. Ask your pharmacist regarding the proper way and location of disposal.

Precautions & Warnings

What should I know before using Karaya gum?

Herbal supplements are generally safe to take in moderate amounts as directed by a health professional. However, because most herb and food supplements are not approved by the FDA for treating and preventing specific diseases, recommended daily values are not always established.

Despite being advertised as “all-natural” or “safe,” natural or food supplements must be treated as conventional medication. Certain herbal preparations can interact with other medications you are taking, increasing the risk of adverse drug reactions and toxicity.

Before using this medication, inform your doctor if:

  • You have ever had an allergic reaction to karaya gum or other supplements.
  • You have a history of allergy to other medications, food, or other substances.
  • You are taking other medications.
  • You have underlying health conditions.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There is insufficient data regarding the use and safety of this supplement during pregnancy. It is most likely safe to use during pregnancy and lactation due to its lack of adverse reactions in normal patients, however, this drug should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus, as determined by your doctor.

This supplement is not likely excreted in breast milk. This drug should be used while breastfeeding only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the child, as determined by your doctor.

Side Effects

What side effects can occur from Karaya gum?

All drugs have the potential to elicit side effects even with normal use. Many side effects are dose-related and will resolve when it is adjusted or at the end of therapy.

Potential side effects while using this drug include:

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort

You may experience some, none, or other side effects not mentioned above. If you have any concerns about a side effect or it becomes bothersome, consult your doctor or pharmacist.


What drugs may interact with Karaya gum?

To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and inform your doctor and pharmacist.

When used as a bulk-forming laxative, avoid taking the following together with karaya gum:

  • Other laxatives
  • Certain antibiotics
  • Blood thinners
  • Milk or milk-containing products
  • Salicylates
  • Digitalis
  • Nitrofurantoin

If you experience an adverse drug interaction, stop taking this drug and continue taking your other medication. Inform your doctor immediately to reevaluate your treatment plan. Your dose may need to be adjusted, substituted with another drug, or discontinue using the drug.

Does food or alcohol interact with Karaya gum?

This medication may be taken with or without food. If you experience any gastrointestinal discomfort, taking this medication with meals may prevent this symptom. There is no data available regarding the effects of alcohol consumption while taking this medication.

Inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns regarding food-drug interactions.

What health conditions may interact with Karaya gum?

This drug should be taken with caution if you have any of the following conditions or risk factors:

  • Allergy to any of the ingredients
  • Bowel obstruction

Inform your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns regarding specific health conditions.


The information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist before using karaya gum.

What is the dose of Karaya gum for an adult?

The recommended dosage of this drug has not been established for treating or preventing any specific disease or condition in adults. Consult with a doctor for the appropriate indication and dosage.

For medications that contain karaya gum, follow the product label directions and dosing.

What is the dose of Karaya gum for a child?

The recommended dosage of this drug has not been established for treating or preventing any specific disease or condition in children. Consult a doctor or pharmacist for alternatives and more information.

For medications that contain karaya gum, follow the product label directions and dosing.

How is Karaya gum available?

This drug is available in the following dosage forms:

  • Food-grade powder

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of this drug, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Karaya gum, https://druginfo.nlm.nih.gov/drugportal/name/Karaya+gum, Accessed Aug 4, 2020 Karaya Gum, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309481497_Karaya_gum_General_topics_and_applications, Accessed Aug 4, 2020 Sterculia urens, http://tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Sterculia+urens, Accessed Aug 4, 2020 A study to assess the knowledge of Karaya powder application on diabetic wound healing among diabetic mellitus patients, https://pharmascope.org/ijrps/article/view/1532/1960, Accessed Aug 4, 2020
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Written by Stephanie Nicole Nera, RPh, PharmD Updated Aug 13, 2020