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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Apr 26, 2024.

Excipient (pharmacologically inactive substance)

What is it?

Sorbitol (C6H14O6) is a sugar alcohol (polyol) used in the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industry as a sweetener or humectant (for protection against loss of moisture content). It is produced by hydrogenation of glucose and is available in liquid and crystalline form. It also occurs naturally in many fresh fruits and berries. Sorbitol is also found commonly in "sugar-free" chewing gum, and may be used to sweeten pharmaceutical dosage forms such as syrups or chewable tablets.

Excessive consumption of sorbitol may lead to a laxative effect, but the small amount used in pharmaceutical manufacturing processes would not normally pose this risk.

Sorbitol is about two-thirds as sweet as glucose. It has a lower calorie content than glucose and may be used in diabetic foods. Sorbitol has roughly 2.6 calories per gram of bulk product. Sorbitol in normal quantities is a safe food product for consumption, and is listed in the FDA’s Generally Regarded as Safe GRAS listing. [1] [2]

List of medications using Sorbitol


  1. Polyols Information Source. Facts about polyols. Sorbitol. Accessed October 24, 2011.
  2. FDA’s SCOGS database; corn starch, Report No. 9, 1979.; ID Code: 50-70-4; October 24, 2011

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.