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Scientific Name(s): Astragalus gummifer Labill.
Common Name(s): Goat's thorn, Green dragon, Gum dragon, Gum tragacanth, Gummi tragacanthae, Hog gum, Milkvetch, Syrian tragacanth, Tragacanth

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 23, 2023.

Clinical Overview


Positive effects of tragacanth on wound healing were demonstrated in 1 small clinical trial. Clinical trial data are lacking to recommend use for any indication.


Recent clinical evidence does not support a specific dosage of tragacanth. The gum has generally recognized as safe (GRAS) status as a food additive.


Contraindications have not been identified.


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


None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

In a small study, no adverse effects were associated with dietary gum tragacanth supplementation in healthy men for up to 21 days.


Tragacanth gum has GRAS status as a food additive.

Scientific Family


Tragacanth gum is found in various Astragalus plant species, including A. gummifer.Barak 2020 A. gummifer is a small, branching, spiny shrub, with a stem that oozes a gum when cut. The gum is odorless, tasteless, and nonedible, and swells upon soaking in water.Kaya 2016 Gum tragacanth is obtained from the branches and taproots; the gum dries as it exudes and must be collected rapidly. The name "tragacanth" is derived from the Greek words tragos (meaning "goat") and akantha (meaning "thorn"), which describe the appearance and texture of the crude gum.Khan 2010,, USDA 2020


Tragacanth has traditionally been used as an emulsifier as well as a thickening, suspending, and binding agent.Barak 2020, Morton 1977, Nuttall 1993 It has also been used to manage diarrhea and as a demulcent in cough and cold preparations.Morton 1977

Tragacanth is currently used in foods, salad dressings, denture fixatives, and to thicken ice cream.Anderson 1989, Berg 1991 It is also being investigated as a novel drug delivery product.Kumar 2014


Gum tragacanth is regarded as a proteinaceous polysaccharide, with a protein content of approximately 3% to 4%.Pistelli 2002 Gum tragacanth from A. gummifer is made up of the following main constituent units: beta-D-galactopyranose, beta-D xylose, alpha-L-fucose, L-arabinose, alpha-D-galacturonic acid, and alpha-D-galacturonic acid methylester.Ahmad 2019 Tragacanth has 2 major constituents: tragacanthin (20% to 30%), a water-soluble fraction consisting of tragacanthic acid and arabinogalactan, and bassorin (60% to 70%), a water-insoluble fraction. Tragacanthic acid includes D-galacturonic acid, D-xylose, L-fructose, D-galactose, and other sugars. Tragacanthin is composed of uronic acid and arabinose; it dissolves in water to form a viscous colloidal solution, while bassorin swells to form a thick gel.Duke 1992, Khan 2010, Morton 1977, Tischer 2002 Maximum viscosity of tragacanthin is attained only after 24 hours at room temperature or after heating for 8 hours at high temperatures.

Uses and Pharmacology

Analgesic effects

Animal data

Data from a mouse study suggest that tragacanth may have analgesic effects via the blockade of alpha-2 adrenergic receptors.Bagheri 2015

Antimicrobial activity

Tragacanth gum does not possess antimicrobial properties and requires functionalization or modification to introduce microbicidal activity. Silver nanoparticles and quaternary ammonium compounds, which possess permanent positive charges, are commonly used as antimicrobial agents to inhibit bacterial growth in various applications. Tragacanth gum has been modified by quaternary ammonium salts to incorporate antibacterial activity, and after functionalization, the modified tragacanth gum was copolymerized with acrylamide or acrylic acid using ceric ammonium as initiator; these hydrogels demonstrated good activity against gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria.Nazarzadeh Zare 2019

Binder properties

Tragacanth gum has been used as a binder in the creation of scaffolds for bone regrowth.Lett 2019


Animal and in vitro data

Tragacanth has been reported to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in vitro and in animal studies.Khan 2010, Morton 1977


Clinical data

As with other water-soluble gums, some preliminary evidence suggests that concomitant ingestion of tragacanth with a high sugar load can moderate glucose levels in patients with diabetes.Eastwood 1984 However, this effect has not been consistently demonstrated and more detailed investigations are needed.Eastwood 1986

Dietary fiber

Although gum tragacanth swells to increase stool weight and decrease GI transit time, it differs from other soluble fibers in that it appears to have no effect on serum cholesterol, triglyceride, or phospholipid levels after a 21-day supplementation period.Eastwood 1986

Wound healing

Animal data

In a study evaluating wound healing in rabbits, creams were prepared from tragacanth gum (6 and 9 wt%) using a mixture of water and glycerin (4:1 wt%) as the vehicle. The wound healing profile of the group treated with the tragacanth gum–containing cream was better than in the untreated control. The best healing effect was observed with the cream containing 6% tragacanth gum.Nazarzadeh Zare 2019

Clinical data

A triple-blind, randomized, clinical trial evaluated the effects of tragacanth gel pad (n=47) or tragacanth foam (n=47) on the prevention of pressure ulcers in trauma patients admitted to intensive care units (N=94). Data showed differences in terms of the delay of skin redness, with onset of erythema occurring at 6.84 (1.58) and 5.67 (1.26) days after admission in the tragacanth gel cushion group and foam cushion group, respectively. In addition, in the tragacanth gel cushion group, 14 patients (29.7%) did not have skin redness compared with the foam cushion group (8.51%). The study showed that use of tragacanth gel cushion is effective in the prevention of pressure ulcers in intensive care unit patients.Shakibamehr 2019


Recent clinical evidence does not support a specific dosage of tragacanth. The gum has GRAS status as a food additive.

Pregnancy / Lactation

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


None well documented. Theoretically, tragacanth could slow absorption of other drugs; therefore, separating the administration of tragacanth from doses of other drugs by at least 2 hours is recommended.

Adverse Reactions

Tragacanth has GRAS status in the United States for use in food.Anderson 1989 In a small study, no adverse effects were associated with dietary gum tragacanth supplementation in healthy men for up to 21 days.Eastwood 1984


Some studies report no toxic effects for tragacanth when used in concentrations of up to 0.5% (or 10 g/day) in mice.Khan 2010, Thackaberry 2013 Tragacanth gum is notably nontoxic when taken orally because polysaccharides generally are not absorbed from the GI system and do not enter circulation when ingested.Pistelli 2002, Smee 1995

Tragacanth is highly susceptible to bacterial degradation, and preparations contaminated with enterobacteria have caused fetal death when administered intraperitoneally to pregnant mice.Khan 2010



This information relates to an herbal, vitamin, mineral or other dietary supplement. This product has not been reviewed by the FDA to determine whether it is safe or effective and is not subject to the quality standards and safety information collection standards that are applicable to most prescription drugs. This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this product. This information does not endorse this product as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this product. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this product. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You should talk with your health care provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this product.

This product may adversely interact with certain health and medical conditions, other prescription and over-the-counter drugs, foods, or other dietary supplements. This product may be unsafe when used before surgery or other medical procedures. It is important to fully inform your doctor about the herbal, vitamins, mineral or any other supplements you are taking before any kind of surgery or medical procedure. With the exception of certain products that are generally recognized as safe in normal quantities, including use of folic acid and prenatal vitamins during pregnancy, this product has not been sufficiently studied to determine whether it is safe to use during pregnancy or nursing or by persons younger than 2 years of age.

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Further information

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