Natural sweetener xylitol can fight bacteria and viruses, including the COVID-19 virus
03 March 2022
Research suggests that xylitol may have both antibacterial and antiviral properties, an unusual combination found in a natural ingredient. Xylitol could help people cut down their use of dangerous and expensive prescription medications against diseases like the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).
Xylitol is commonly used as a sugar alternative and can be found in many sugar-free products like gums, lozenges, syrups, nasal sprays, toothpaste and mouthwashes.
The natural sweetener’s antibacterial capabilities have been known for a while now. In 2019, researchers published an article in the peer-reviewed health and nutrition journal Nutrients stating that ingesting xylitol produces a compound in the gut known as butyric acid. This “promotes the generation of regulatory T-cells,” which are important components of a person’s immune system.
Other studies have found that the presence of xylitol in the body can discourage certain harmful bacteria from attaching themselves to the mucosal surfaces of the lungs. Xylitol has also been found to have the ability to fight against staphylococcus infections.
Xylitol works as an antiviral medication against COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, xylitol’s abilities as an effective antiviral medication have also been studied.
In recent years, xylitol’s ability to combat influenza has been studied. Writing in the peer-reviewed and open-source scientific journal PLOS One, researchers found that xylitol combined with red ginseng was effective in “ameliorating influenza-induced symptoms” related to influenza A.
“This protective effect of xylitol should be considered in relation to other diseases,” wrote the researchers in their recommendations for future studies.
Because of research showing that xylitol can be an effective antibacterial and antiviral medication, companies have introduced nasal products containing xylitol which could be effective against SARS-CoV-2. A study of one of the nasal sprays that contained xylitol and Iota-carrageenan, a type of red algae, found that the combination “may increase the benefit of a formulated nasal spray” made specifically to combat the virus that causes COVID-19.
A more recent study published in 2021 in the Journal of Allergy and Infectious Disease found that intranasal administration of antiviral agents like xylitol, grapefruit seed extract, corticosteroids and hydrogen peroxide may provide clinical benefit to COVID-19 patients.
The nasal spray can decrease viral activity in the nasal pathway, thereby preventing the transmission of COVID-19 in people who don’t yet have the virus, and managing its severity in people who do.
This study was conducted on several patients with mild to moderate COVID-19 symptoms. They were administered a nasal spray that had xylitol and grapefruit seed extract. Researchers noted a quick reduction of clinical course and improvements in symptoms as early as Day 4 of their COVID-19 case.
By Day 7, the patients in the study had already tested negative multiple times for COVID-19. This “rapid clinical improvement” is being attributed to the xylitol nasal spray.
“Limited strategies are currently accessible in modifying the viral content in infected patients’ respiratory tracts, justifying the need for novel therapeutic interventions targeting the principal route of infection,” wrote the authors. “We propose that intranasal administration of virucidal and antiviral therapies may be a novel strategy to provide an added clinical benefit by decreasing the viral activity in the nasal pathway, thus preventing disease transmission, managing the disease severity and limiting complications.”
The ability of xylitol nasal sprays to restore the sense of smell of COVID-19 patients is also being studied.
In addition to its antibacterial and antiviral abilities, xylitol is also considered a prebiotic that can improve bowel function and motility. Xylitol’s laxative effects also make it an effective treatment against constipation. The presence of butyric acid – produced by ingesting xylitol – has also been associated with a reduced risk for colorectal cancer.
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Also published on Foodscience.news