Xanthan Gum as excipient

What is Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum, a polysaccharide derived from the fermentation of sugars by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris, has gained widespread use in various industries, including food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

Xanthan gum finds extensive use in the pharmaceutical industry due to its unique rheological properties, binding capabilities, and stability. It is commonly employed as a thickening and stabilizing agent in liquid formulations such as suspensions, emulsions, and oral syrups. The viscosity-enhancing properties of xanthan gum contribute to improved drug delivery, aiding in controlled release formulations.

Moreover, its pseudoplastic behavior allows for easy dispensing, and it can be utilized as a suspending agent for poorly soluble drugs. Xanthan gum’s ability to form gels also makes it suitable for topical applications, where it enhances the stability and spreadability of formulations

Composition and properties of Xanthan gum

Xanthan gum is composed of repeating units of glucose, mannose, and glucuronic acid. The backbone structure consists of a cellulose-like chain, with trisaccharide side chains attached to alternate glucose units. This unique composition contributes to the distinctive properties that make xanthan gum versatile in various applications.

Xanthan gum exhibits several unique properties that contribute to its widespread use. These include high viscosity at low concentrations, pseudoplasticity, and shear-thinning behavior. It is soluble in cold and hot water, forming stable and transparent solutions. Additionally, xanthan gum demonstrates excellent stability over a broad range of pH values and temperatures.

Excipient Characterization Services

Be in control of your product!

offers fast and flexible hands-on xanthan gum quantification and characterization services to reveal and compare hidden xanthan gum properties like :

the presence of potential reactive impurities or functional groups, degradation products and related substances, just like molecular weight distributions, reducing power and many other featured characteristics.

In addition, we can help users of excipients to pick the most appropriate xanthan gum manufacturer, select the most suitable xanthan gum grade for their finished dosage form, or define customized xanthan gum specifications to control product performance, quality and safety.
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Xanthan Gum manufacturing

The production of xanthan gum involves the fermentation of carbohydrates, typically glucose or sucrose, by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris. Xanthomonas campestris, a gram-negative bacterium, produces xanthan gum as an extracellular polysaccharide. The fermentation process involves the cultivation of the bacterium in a nutrient-rich medium containing sugars and yields a biopolymer that is subsequently purified and dried to obtain xanthan gum in its final form. The production process is cost-effective and environmentally friendly, making xanthan gum an attractive choice for various industries.

Figure 1 Structural formula of Xanthan Gum

Stability and Degradation of Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is known for its stability under various conditions. It remains stable in acidic and alkaline environments, as well as in the presence of salts and some organic solvents. However, excessive heat and prolonged exposure to high shear forces can lead to degradation of its molecular structure. Storage conditions, such as humidity and exposure to UV light, can also affect the stability of xanthan gum.

Advantage and disadvantages of Xanthan Gum​


  •     Versatility: Xanthan gum is versatile and applicable in a wide range of formulations.
  •     Enhanced Rheological Properties: Its pseudoplastic and thickening properties contribute to improved drug delivery and formulation stability.
  •     Biocompatibility: Xanthan gum is generally considered safe for use in pharmaceuticals, exhibiting biocompatibility.


  •     Cost: While the production process is cost-effective, xanthan gum may be relatively more expensive than other thickeners.
  •     Sensitivity to Ionic Strength: Xanthan gum may experience reduced viscosity in the presence of high concentrations of ions.
  •     Degradation under Harsh Conditions: Excessive heat, shear forces, and certain storage conditions can lead to the degradation of xanthan gum.

In conclusion, xanthan gum stands as a valuable component in the pharmaceutical industry, offering a range of benefits coupled with some considerations. Understanding its composition, production process, and properties enables the informed and effective utilization of xanthan gum in pharmaceutical formulations.

Be in control of your product!

Feel free to get in touch with our experts to quantify and characterize your xanthan gum and see how we can help you in making your products safe, robust and stable.

Xanthan Gum Characterization Services

Excipia is an independent contract service platform that focuses on the physicochemical characterization of pharmaceutical excipients and food ingredients like xanthan gum; as a pure substance, as a raw material or when processed into end products.

More than 25 years in the development of pharmaceutical formulations have taught us that the limited information available on an excipient Certificate of Analysis (CoA) often falls short of explaining observed product or excipient characteristics and that more in-depth knowledge of the actual chemical excipient composition is essential to meet and understand specific formulation challenges.

Over the past 15 years, Excipia analytical scientists have spent tens of thousands of hours establishing unique, specific analytical and physicochemical methods with ingenious sample preparation techniques to characterize polysaccharides ans other pharmaceutical excipients.

In these years we have gained a lot of knowledge about many excipients, their properties and exact composition, the difference between batches, qualities, grades, and manufacturers, how to quantify them in medicines and how they can best be used in a formulation.

Excipia offers fast and flexible hands-on cellulose characterization services to reveal and compare hidden polysaccharides properties like:

    • the presence of potential reactive impurities or functional groups,
    • reducing power of polysaccharides,
    • degradation products and related substances,
    • relative molecular weight distributions,
    • and many other polysaccharide characteristics.

In addition, Excipia can help users of polysaccharides to pick the most appropriate manufacturer, select the most suitable grade for their finished dosage form, or define customized cellulose specifications to control product performance, quality and safety.

Welcome to Excipia, a service platform dedicated to the composition, quality and quantity of excipients in medicines.

Discover our unique services such as quantitative excipient analysis, identification, selection or specific formulation development support. Don’t forget to check out our case studies.

Try us. Feel free to contact us using the “Contact”  button or by sending a message to Excipia@avivia.nl.

Menno Wiltink
Founder of Excipia.


Excipia, a division of Avivia BV

 Excipia as dedicated excipient knowledge platform is a division of Avivia BV, a Dutch independent specialized pharmaceutical development company that operates a hybrid business model combining CRO service activities with internal product development programs. The other complementary platforms of Avivia are Pharmaceutical R&D, Analytical R&D, and Biorelevant Dissolution Testing. For more information about Avivia and its pharmaceutical development CRO services, please visit the Avivia website.