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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 23, 2023.

Excipient (pharmacologically inactive substance)

What is it?

Xylitol (C5H5O12) is a sweeting agent used in pharmaceutical and food processing. Similar to sorbitol or mannitol, it is a sugar alcohol and can lead to diarrhea if consumed in excess quantities. Amounts used in the pharmaceutical industry for sweetening would not normally lead to this side effect. Xylitol is often used as a sweetening agent for "sugar-free" chewing gum.

Xylitol occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables and is produced by the human body during normal metabolism. Xylitol is produced commercially from hardwood trees and fibrous vegetation. It has about the same sweetness as sugar but with one-third the calories.

Xylitol may be found in throat lozenges, cough syrups, children's chewable multivitamins, toothpastes and mouthwashes. In the United States, xylitol is approved as a food additive for special dietary needs, such as diabetes. [1]

List of medications using Xylitol


  1. Polyols Information Source. Facts about polyols. Xylitol. Accessed October 24, 2011.

Further information

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