Inulin
Inulin

Background

Inulin is a type of prebiotic. It's not digested or absorbed in the stomach. It stays in the bowel and helps certain beneficial bacteria to grow.

Inulin is a starchy substance found in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, including wheat, onions, bananas, leeks, artichokes, and asparagus. The inulin that is used in supplements most commonly comes from soaking chicory roots in hot water.

People commonly use inulin by mouth for weight loss, constipation, and diabetes. It's also used for high blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support most of these uses.
When taken by mouth: Inulin is likely safe for most people in the amounts found in foods. It is possibly safe in adults when taken as a supplement, short-term. Doses of 8-18 grams daily have been used safely for up to 24 weeks. The most common side effects include gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and cramps. These side effects are more severe with high doses of inulin (more than 30 grams).

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Inulin is likely safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding in amounts found in food. There isn't enough reliable information to know if inulin is safe to use in larger amounts as medicine when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Inulin is likely safe in children in the amounts found in foods. It is possibly safe for children when taken by mouth as a medicine, short-term. Inulin is possibly safe when used as part of infant formula, short-term.

Effectiveness

Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Constipation. Taking inulin by mouth seems to help relieve constipation in some children and adults. It increases the number of stools by up to about one per week. But it might not reduce discomfort.
  • Diabetes. Taking inulin by mouth along with antidiabetes drugs might improve blood sugar levels in some people with diabetes, short-term. But it's not clear if it helps long-term.
  • Obesity. Taking inulin by mouth might increase short-term weight loss. But it's not clear if it helps with long-term weight loss or weight maintenance in people who are overweight or obese.
There is interest in using inulin for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Inulin is found in a wide variety of foods, including wheat, onions, bananas, leeks, artichokes, and asparagus. Inulin supplements have most often been used by adults in doses of 10-40 grams by mouth daily, for 4-8 weeks. Various combination products are also available. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what type of product and dose might be best for a specific condition.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)

Interaction Rating=Minor Be watchful with this combination.

Inulin might lower blood sugar levels. Taking inulin along with diabetes medications might cause blood sugar to drop too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Calcium: Inulin might change the absorption of calcium. But most research shows that inulin doesn't affect the absorption of calcium from foods.
Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar: Inulin might lower blood sugar. Taking it with other supplements with similar effects might lower blood sugar too much. Examples of supplements with this effect include aloe, bitter melon, cassia cinnamon, chromium, and prickly pear cactus.
Magnesium: Inulin might increase the amount of magnesium that the body absorbs.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.
 

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This monograph was last reviewed on 19/03/2022 04:58:03 and last updated on 09/09/2020 19:26:19. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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