Karaya Gum

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Karaya Gum
Sun, 04-25-2010 - 8:45pm

Have you seen this in the ingredients list of product you are buying and not sure on it,,here is data and info...
Karaya Gum

Scientific Name(s): Sterculia urens Roxb. Family: Sterculiaceae. The gum also may be obtained from S. villosa , S. tragacantha , or other species of Sterculia 1

Common Name(s): Karaya , sterculia , Indian tragacanth , Bassora tragacanth , kadaya , mucara , kadira , katila , kullo 2 , 3 , 4 , 5

Uses of Karaya Gum

Karaya gum is used in cosmetics and food, and in pharmaceuticals as a laxative and adhesive.

Karaya Gum Dosing

No specific dosage of karaya gum preparations has been determined by clinical studies.


Contraindications have not been identified.


Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Karaya Gum Interactions

None well documented.

Karaya Gum Adverse Reactions

No significant adverse reactions have been reported despite widespread use.


Karaya gum is generally recognized as safe.


The majority of commercial karaya gum is obtained from Sterculia urens , which is a soft-wooded tree that grows to approximately 10 meters. It is native to India and Pakistan, where it is found on the dry, rocky hills and plateaus; it grows there almost exclusively, where it is cultivated for karaya production. 6 All parts of the tree exude a soft gum when injured. Karaya gum is produced by charring or scarring the tree trunk and removing a piece of bark or by drilling holes into the trunk. The gum seeps from the scars and is collected, washed, and dried. The gum is then graded. A mature tree may yield 1 to 5 kg of gum per season. 6 The flowers bloom from February to March, and the tree bears a star-shaped fruit. 3


Karaya gum has been used commercially for about 100 years. Its use became widespread during the early 20th century, when it was used as an adulterant or alternative for tragacanth gum. 6 However, experience indicated that karaya possessed certain physiochemical properties that made it more useful than tragacanth; furthermore, karaya gum was less expensive. Traditionally, India is the largest producer and exporter of karaya gum. 6 Increasing amounts are exported by African countries. Currently the gum is used in a variety of products, including cosmetics, hair sprays, and lotions, to provide bulk. 7 The bark is astringent. 3


Karaya gum is a complex, partially acetylated polysaccharide obtained as a calcium and magnesium salt. The polysaccharide component of karaya has a high molecular weight and is composed of galacturonic acid, beta-D-galactose, glucuronic acid, L-rhamnose, and other residues. 1 , 2 , 3

The quality of karaya gum depends on the thoroughness of impurity removal. Food-grade gum is usually a white to pinkish gray powder with a slight vinegar odor. 2 Pharmaceutical grades of karaya may be almost clear or translucent. 3

Karaya gum is the least soluble of the commercial plant exudates, but it absorbs water rapidly and swells to form viscous colloidal solutions even at low concentrations (1%). 2 The swelling behavior of karaya gum is dependent upon the presence of acetyl groups in its structure. Deacetylation through alkali treatment results in a water soluble gum. When used in higher concentrations in water (up to 4%), karaya forms gels or pastes. Unlike other gums, karaya swells in 60% alcohol, but remains insoluble in other organic solvents. Karaya may absorb up to 100 times its weight in water. 2

Because the gum is partially acetylated, it may release acetic acid during storage.