Why Guar Gum is The Best Hydrocolloid for Pharmaceutical Use?
A hydrocolloid is generally defined as a substance that gels upon coming in contact with water. This takes place when the hydrophilic (water loving) molecules are dispersed by water molecules. This is what gives gums the film forming, flocculation, thickening, adhesion, suspension, stabilizing and high viscosity properties. Gomme de guar / gum from the guar seed has the best of these properties when compared to other alternatives such as xanthan, cassia, tamarind, sesbania and alginate hydrocolloids and hence is the best additive for pharmaceutical formulations.
Guar Gum Pharmaceutical Use
Guar gum as well as its derivatives is highly used in the pharmaceutical industry. The characteristics that make ‘goma guar’ or gum from guar highly beneficial include its viscosifying, gelling, suspension, thickening, emulsification, stabilizing, preserving, binding, water retention, flow control, clouding, anti-acid, process aid and disintegration and various other physical and chemical properties. These properties make the ‘guarkernmehl’ or gum from guar suitable for making suspensions, syrups, tablet binder, drug control delivery systems and anti-acid tablets among other pharmaceutical uses. Guar Gum pharmaceutical uses also include slimming aid and healthy nutrition. This is because gum powder from guar has high content of soluble nutritional fibre that is calorie free. When consumed, the fiber content will remain in the stomach for long since it is indigestable. This stimulates a person to feel full reducing the craving for food and also ensuring the intestines are working efficiently.
Future Prospects for Guar Gum in the Pharmaceutical Industry
Since July 2010, the price of gomme de guar or Gum guar bean has been on the increase, this has been driven mostly by the oil and petroleum mining industries in the US. The price of guar in the first half of 2010 was US$ 1.67 per pound which later increased to US$ 2.16/lb during the same period in 2011 and now it is currently trading at US$ 2.7 per pound. This tripling of the price within a period of two years is really affecting the pharmaceutical industries among other industries. This is making the users of guar seek cheaper hydrocolloids such as cassia, sesbania, tamarind and xanthan gum.The major problem is not so much about the high prices or constant fluctuations in price, but rather the availability of the gum products from guar. This is why some pharmaceutical firms are adopting xanthan gum which is twice as expensive as guar but is more readily available. Some manufacturers especially in the bakery sector are also considering using synthetic alternatives such as CarboxylMethylcellulose (CMC).
The demand for guar gum powder is not about to die down yet since more people are discovering guar gum pharmaceutical benefits. A lot needs to be done in regard to the cultivation of the gum additive especially in the long run. The relevant authorities such as the Government and other players need to come up with strategies that will boost production of the Guar crop which is majorly cultivated in the North and West of India. The government needs to diversify the production to other regions. The next strategy has to be on how to sustain flat pricing. Flat pricing makes sense since a drastic drop in price would lead farmers to switch to other lucrative crops such as cotton, basmati rice or xanthan gum. Whichever step is taken to alleviate the situation , it is worth noting that the impact will not be felt immediately but rather after a considerable period of time.
This article has been written by Biren Patel working at Agro Gums. Agro Gums is a guar and cassia gum manufacturing company offering high quality guar gum powder, fast hydration guar gum powder, cassia powder, guar splits and guar meal to satisfy the production requirements of various industries across the world.