Does Xylitol Affect ADD/ADHD?

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A picture of a bratty boy sticking his tongue out.

Xylitol appears to exacerbate ADD/ADHD.

Xylitol seems to be a “favored choice” among the sugar alcoholsespecially for food manufacturers.

But, is it a good choice for high-energy kids?

Xylitol is a simple carb extracted from birch tree pulp. The wood sugar “xylose” was first hydrogenated to produce xylitol in 1891 by the German chemist Emil Fischer.

Xylitol has been used since the 1960s in the Soviet Union, Germany, Switzerland and Japan as a favored sweetener for diabetics. Xylitol is also used intravenously for patients with impaired glucose tolerance, i.e. for trauma, burns, and in diabetic and insulin-resistant states.

Good Choice – Bad Choice?

At face value, xylitol seems like a good choice, and realistically, with the amount of aspartame, sucralose, neotame, and acesulfame-K circulating in our foods and drinks, xylitol may be a better choice among these chemical sugar substitutes.

But, xylitol may have a downside, so head’s up.

A line of red question marks.

How much xylitol is too much??

Years ago, I worked with the founder and CEO of a vitamin and supplement lab.

As he tested the use of various sugar-substitutes in his vitamin line, he  observed that children with ADD/ADHD reacted in the same fashion after ingesting xylitol as they reacted to using aspartame and high doses of refined sugar.

Like aspartame and refined sugar, xylitol passes through the blood-brain barrier, and in his studies, he observed that after using xylitol, hypersensitive children become more active shortly after use.


Xylitol does not require insulin to metabolize in the body, and this gives it many benefits, like preventing tooth decay.  But, it appears that overuse may also create negative health effects.

See for yourself.

If you are noticing any reactions in behavior or stomach issues after using products with xylitol and the other sugar alcohols, avoid overuse and see if these reactions lessen or go away.

A pretty girl blowing a bubble chewing bubblegum.

Xylitol is used a lot in sugar-free gum today.

Many Uses

Xylitol has the same sweetness, bulk and caloric value as sucrose, so it is one of the most popular sweetener alternatives used in candies, chewing gum, natural-ingredient toothpastes, treats such as gum drops and hard candy, and in pharmaceuticals and oral health products. Because xylitol has been shown to prevent plaque and cavities, it is a favored choice in sugarless gums over aspartame or sucralose.

Just remember that its overuse, especially in kids chewing sugarless gum, could create adverse side effects, like more hyperactivity, agitation, and stomach aches.

Watch your kids’ behavior the next time they chew sugar-free gum with xylitol, and see for yourself if they become more active, agitated, or complain of a sour tummy.

In the long run, you are better off using no sugar at all, or choose natural unprocessed sugars, or natural sweeteners like Stevia.

Natural Sources

I recommend trimming your use of man-made forms of xylitol, but here are some food sources with natural xylitol:

1. Raspberries
2. Strawberries
3. Plums
4. Corn
5. Endive
6. Mushrooms

These foods may, or may not, create hyperactive reactions – observe how your kids act after eating a bowl of organic strawberries.

How much is too much?

A green dollar sign with a sprout coming out of the top.

Spend your money on the products that you really need. This saves you lots of money in the long run.

With the amount of refined sugar added to most processed and pre-packaged foods today, I don’t recommend using any additional sugars or chemical sweeteners, especially for hyperactive kiddos. Try to be satisfied with the natural sweetness of whole foods, and teach your children to be content with natural sweetness, too. This is healthier and less expensive in the long run.

Think of all the money you’ll save not buying sugar or altered sugar replacements. And your kids may be calmer for it, too!

About Janet Hull PhD, CN

Janet Starr Hull, PhD, CN has been working with clients in the holistic health field since 1995. Using natural medicine to cure herself from a diagnosis of Graves’ disease caused by aspartame, Dr. Hull began researching the toxic causes of disease. Today, she is one of the world’s leading experts in environmental toxicology and holistic health and nutrition. Dr. Hull is the first researcher to publicly expose the dangers of aspartame. Connect with Dr. Hull on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

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