Erythritol: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly with This Common Sweetener

April 10, 2018
Erythritol - Dr. Axe

Erythritol is one of the most prominent natural zero calorie sweeteners that have become so popular, and seemingly less problematic than the controversial aspartame. Instead, erythritol is a natural sugar alcohol like xylitol that I’ve spoken about before in my article titled “The 5 Worst Artificial Sweeteners.”

Many people choose erythritol because it can decrease the amount of sugar and calories in what they’re consuming. You’ll commonly find it as an ingredient in low-sugar and sugar-free foods, but there are some very concerning and common erythritol side effects  even when it’s used in low amounts, erythritol consumption can cause diarrhea, stomachache and headache.

The reason why it doesn’t provide calories or sugar to its consumer is because the body actually can’t break it down! That’s right — even though erythritol travels through your body, it doesn’t get metabolized. (1)

Is erythritol a safe and smart substitute for sugar?

If it’s made from GMO cornstarch, then absolutely not. I definitely don’t recommend it, especially when there are healthier, safer options readily available. If you’re talking about non-GMO erythritol, then it can be a better choice than some other artificial sweeteners, but I still think there are better options out there.

Erythritol is rapidly absorbed in the small intestine, but it’s poorly metabolized, has absolutely no known functions in the human body and is excreted through the urine unchanged. As we’ve seen before, just because a sweetener doesn’t have calories and doesn’t appear to affect blood sugar, it does not mean that it’s good for your health.

What Is Erythritol?

If you’re a label reader (and I hope you are!), you may have noticed the natural zero calorie sweetener erythritol becoming more and more prominent in ingredient lists lately, especially in energy and sports drinks and chocolate bars, thinking to yourself, what is erythritol? It naturally occurs in some fruits and fermented foods, but the variety being added to food and beverages today is typically man-made from GMO cornstarch, resulting in an ultra-processed food — very far from a natural sweetening agent. It’s one of those “invisible GMO ingredients.” It’s also likely to be an insecticide in the near future since researchers have found that the main component of Truvia®, erythritol has proven potent insecticidal activity. (2)

Erythritol is a four-carbon sugar alcohol or polyol that contains about 60 percent to 80 percent of the sweetness of table sugar. Sugar alcohol has nothing to do with cocktails, though since it does not contain ethanol (aka alcohol) like alcoholic beverages. Other sugar alcohols include sorbitol, lactitol, maltitol, mannitol and xylitol. Fruits like watermelon, pear and grapes naturally have minor amounts of erythritol, as do mushrooms and fermented foods like cheese, wine, beer and sake. (3)

Erythritol was first discovered in 1848 by a Scottish chemist named John Stenhouse. Japan has been using it since the early 1990s in candies, jellies, jams, chocolate (including the common chocolate bar), yogurt, beverages and as a natural sugar substitute. It’s gained popularity in the United States more recently. As of 1997, it has the status of generally recognized as safe from the FDA, which honestly really doesn’t tell you much about how safe it is. The food industry and consumers love it because it can have up to 80 percent of the sweetness of sugar, but it’s noncaloric and does not raise blood sugar levels.

Meanwhile, pro-industry scientists claim that it might even provide antioxidants to whoever ingests it. In a diabetic rat, erythritol seems to act as an antioxidant (to fight free radicals) and potentially offered protection again hyperglycemia-induced vascular damage. (4)

Erythritol is now commonly added to many packaged food, snack and drink items (zero calorie sodas, for example) as well as sugar-free gums, mints and even some medications. It’s also available by itself as a granulated or powdered natural zero calorie sweetener, like Zsweet and Swerve.

Erythritol does occur naturally in some fruits and fermented foods. However, the problem is that the grand majority of erythritol used in products today is man-made by taking glucose (most commonly from GMO cornstarch) and fermenting it with a yeast called Moniliella pollinis.

7 Reasons to Not Consume Erythritol (Especially the GMO Kind)

1. GMO

The World Health Organization defines genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as “foods derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally, e.g. through the introduction of a gene from a different organism.” (5) Much of the erythritol used in foods and beverages today is derived from cornstarch from genetically modified corn.

Animal studies have linked consumption of GMOs with infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. (6)

2. Commonly Combined with Artificial Sweeteners

Erythritol is not as sweet as sugar on its own so it’s often combined in foods and beverages with other questionable sweeteners, usually ones that are artificial. When combined with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, the erythritol-laden product becomes even more lethal to your health. Side effects of aspartame include anxiety, depression, short-term memory loss, fibromyalgia, weight gain, fatigue, brain tumors and more.

Since products containing erythritol typically also contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame, the side effects of that particular food or beverage become even more likely as well as dangerous.

3. Gastrointestinal Problems and Headache

Sugar alcohols like erythritol are well-known for their link to digestive issues. Some of the most common erythritol side effects in small amounts, and especially in large amounts, are undesirable gastrointestinal side effects. These GI side effects are especially common in children. (7)

Unfortunately, the gastrointestinal issues don’t necessarily stop at some rumbling in your stomach. Diarrhea is a well-known common erythritol side effect. Especially when consumed in excess, unabsorbed erythritol can attract water from the intestinal wall and cause diarrhea. The likelihood of diarrhea appears to be even more likely when erythritol is consumed along with fructose. (8Diarrhea might sound harmless, but it can lead to dehydration and malnutrition.

Many people report upset stomach and diarrhea after consuming normal amounts of erythritol in food or beverages. If consumption is high (50 grams or more per day) then digestive troubles, including gas, cramping, bloating, stomachache and diarrhea, become even more likely. One study specifically showed that the intake of 50 grams of erythritol causes stomach rumbling and nausea. (9)

In 2012, a pediatric study looked at the GI tolerability of erythritol. The aim was to determine the maximum dose level of erythritol that’s well-tolerated by young children (4–6 years old) in a single drinking occasion. The researchers concluded that there is “a safety concern with respect to GI tolerability for the use of erythritol in beverages at a maximum use level of 2.5% for non-sweetening purposes.” (10)

Headaches are another common but less studied side effect.


Seven reasons to not consume erythritol - Dr. Axe


4. Could Lead to Overeating

One of the ongoing problems with noncaloric artificial sweeteners is that they don’t get processed by your body the way regular sugar gets processed. When you eat foods containing table sugar and healthier natural sweeteners, your body knows exactly what to do with them. The sugar gets metabolized, and hormones are released to decrease your appetite.

The problem with erythritol is that it’s a sugar alcohol that basically just goes right through your body. It does not metabolized, and therefore, your body may not be getting calories or sugar. It’s also not registering that any fuel got put into your body at all. This is why you can end up still feeling hungry after you consume products with alternative and fake man-made sugars. The body is left feeling unfilled, and you still want to eat or drink something else. This is a slippery slope that can lead to overeating and weight gain. Weight gain has been seen when sugar alcohols like erythritol are overeaten. (11)

5. Terrible for SIBO and IBS Sufferers

SIBO is a more prevalent digestive disorder than previously believed, and it occurs in many people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other underlying conditions. (12) SIBO is the acronym for “small intestinal bacterial overgrowth,” defined as excessive bacteria in the small intestine. While bacteria naturally occurs throughout the digestive tract, in a healthy system, the small intestine is supposed to have relatively low levels of bacteria. When people suffer from SIBO or IBS, what they put into their bodies on a daily basis can truly spell the difference between healing or increased distress.

Polyols like erythritol top the list for ingredients to avoid with a digestive problem like SIBO because they can so commonly be irritating and problematic to the digestive system.

6. Allergic Reactions

Although not highly common, erythritol can cause an allergic skin reaction for some people. A study published in 2000 in the Journal of Dermatology demonstrates how drinks containing erythritol can potentially cause a severe allergic skin reaction. A young 24-year-old woman had severe wheals all over her entire body after having one glass of a beverage sweetened with erythritol. (13)

A wheal, often called a welt or hives, is a raised, itchy area of skin that’s sometimes an obvious sign of an allergy to something you’ve consumed or come in contact with. When you suddenly have a negative skin reaction, it’s always important to consider what you most recently consumed, especially if it contained a questionable ingredient like erythritol.

7.  Excellent Insecticide

If you’re not yet convinced that you should stay away from erythritol, there’s more. As of 2014, researchers at Drexel University were pursuing a patent on erythritol as an insecticide and are continuing to study its effectiveness. Yes, that’s right  not only is it low in calories, it’s also really great at killing bugs. I wish I was joking, but I’m not.

The 2014 study is titled “Erythritol, a Non-Nutritive Sugar Alcohol Sweetener and the Main Component of Truvia®, Is a Palatable Ingested Insecticide.” The researchers show that erythritol is toxic to flies, which are drawn to its sweet flavor, which makes erythritol a “killer combination.” (14) I don’t know about you, but I certainly would rather put some raw honey in my next cup of tea rather than a proven bug killer.

The Positive Side of Erythritol 

If you purchase a product that has erythritol, how do you know if it’s a GMO erythritol? The product needs to have a USDA Organic- or a Non-GMO Project-certified insignia on the packaging. Under these guidelines, it cannot be from a GMO source.

If you choose a non-GMO erythritol, can be beneficial? I would say the answer is somewhat. Fans of this common sweetener mainly love it because of its lack of calories, which can be helpful to weight management. However, as I’ve said before, the lack of calories in sweeteners can be very confusing to our bodies and brains. Many people also choose it as their sweetener of choice because it won’t cause a blood sugar spike, which can be especially helpful for diabetics.

Studies have been mixed, but some say that erythritol can decrease plaque or, at the least, not contribute to tooth decay. One double-blind, randomized trial study looked at the effects of erythritol on 485 primary school children. Each child consumed four erythritol, xylitol or sorbitol candies three times per school day. In the follow-up examinations, researchers observed a lower number of cavities in the erythritol group than in the xylitol or sorbitol groups. The time until the development of cavities was also longest in the erythritol group. (15)

Better Sweetener Alternatives

Erythritol may have some positives, but I’m not convinced that those positives outweigh the negatives. I personally would rather use stevia leaf extract because it also doesn’t spike blood sugar and has more proven health benefits, including improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure and even some types of cancer. (16) Raw honey is another favorite of mine that’s truly a superfood. I also recommend monk fruit, which is a fruit-derived sweetener that has been used for hundreds of years.

1. Stevia

I’m talking about a real stevia leaf extract product, not a “stevia product” that actually contains other sweeteners like erythritol. Stevia is an herbal plant that belongs to the Asteraceae family. The stevia plant has been used for over 1,500 years by the Guaraní people of Brazil and Paraguay. It’s really a great, health-promoting choice when you buy a high-quality, pure stevia leaf extract product. Make sure to buy stevia without additives and one that has been less processed. I recommend green stevia as the best option.

2. Raw Honey

Raw honey is a pure, unfiltered and unpasteurized sweetener made by bees from the nectar of flowers. Unlike processed honey, raw honey does not get robbed of its incredible nutritional value and health powers. It has been scientifically proven to help with allergies, diabetes, sleep problems, coughs and wound healing. Look for a local beekeeper to source your raw honey. This makes it even more likely to help with seasonal allergies.

3. Monk Fruit

Monk fruit, also called luo han guo, has been used as a sweetener for centuries, and after many years being only available overseas, it’s recently become easier to find in grocery stores in the United States. Monk fruit contains compounds that, when extracted, are natural sweeteners 300–400 times sweeter than cane sugar — but with no calories and no effect on blood sugar.  Just make sure that the monk fruit product you’re purchasing doesn’t contain any GMO-derived erythritol or other unhealthy additives.

Final Thoughts on Erythritol

Once erythritol enters your body, it’s rapidly absorbed in the small intestine with only about 10 percent entering the colon while the other 90 percent is excreted in the urine. It essentially goes through your system untouched with zero metabolization. Many manufacturers and consumers think this is great because that means no added calories or sugar to your diet, but what about it is really healthy or natural? Certainly nothing if it’s man-made from genetically modified corn products.

Even if it’s not GMO, its ghost passage through the body doesn’t signal any feelings of satiety and can easily lead to overeating. Also, let’s not forget the possible gastrointestinal distress, headaches and allergic reactions.

When we eat or drink anything, we ideally want it to go to work for us and encourage our overall health and well-being. Erythritol might have some benefits, but I just don’t think it does enough good for the human body. You’re much better off choosing a more natural, health-promoting sweetener, like raw honey, in small amounts.

Read Next: Top 10 Natural Sweeteners

From the sound of it, you might think leaky gut only affects the digestive system, but in reality it can affect more. Because Leaky Gut is so common, and such an enigma, I’m offering a free webinar on all things leaky gut. Click here to learn more about the webinar.

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  1. Effie on

    I am taking homeopathic medicines and I need to find sugar-free, organic, non-toxic (no-mint! flavored) chewing gum. Your thoughts?

  2. Cyndi Luman on

    I just recently started to use Trivia single packs. By the second pack I started to have headaches. By the seventh pack, I started to eat and eat nothing would satisfy my hunger.

    I came across this arrival and am so glad I did. It explained everything that was happening to me. I never get headaches, or over eat. I am a diabetic since 2001. I have always used sweet n low or spends.

    I am about to read the 5 worse sweetness. I can’t wait to see what it has to say.

    Thank you for your article on Erythitol it helped me tremendously.

    Cyndi Luman
    Abilene, TX

      • Anne on

        Hoping your comment was intended to be facetious. I’m sure Cyndi used the 7 packets over time, such as in coffee, tea, maybe cereal. I doubt she just opened the packets and poured them into her mouth, one after the other.

    • Steve on

      Oh yeah! that’s GOT to be good.

      Think about it. This stuff causes acute allergic reactions such as SEVERE welts in some people. It is also an effective insecticide. Do you want that anywhere near the delicate, sensitive lining of your lungs?

      Still . . . anything for a thrill, right?

  3. Christie on

    I came across this article because I am looking for how to DIY stevia baking blend. The one I have by NuNaturals has stevia, maltodextrin, dextrin fiber, oat fibernand acacia, guar and xanthan gums. Can you comment on these ingredients?

    ANd if anyone can say what proportions to use, I will be grateful. The use is 3/4 cup of the blend instead of 1 cup of sugar.

  4. Dylan on

    Stevia is a nightshade, not recommended on autoimmune protocol diets, so seems odd that you wouldn’t mention that it can trigger IBS symptoms.

    • Healthy Is Unprocessed NATURAL Food on

      I have grown stevia many times, and no one in our family even likes it from the plant itself so I stopped growing it. We eat a LOT of natural things so it is not a matter of developing a taste for it.

    • R.Grace on

      It’s the non-beneficial microbes that can be in the gut like strep bacteria or the shingles herpes virus that thrive on certain foods that are causing the IBS symptoms. If there are high levels of heavy metals (mercury and/or aluminum especially), this is often a factor as well.

      While green (unripened) peppers are not recommended and can be an irritant to the body, fully ripened foods from the nightshade family are generally not the cause of the inflammation or autoimmune symptoms. The body isn’t attacking itself as in being “autoimmune” but attacking the invasive pathogen(s) that are creating inflammation through their active presence in the body, especially from the byproduct they create that affects the internal organs, glands, and the nervous system.

      Foods like any dairy product, eggs (incl. free range), GMO foods including soy and canola oil, MSG ingredients, gluten foods and sometimes even cacao/chocolate strengthen the bugs (and like cacao, may irritate the nervous system worsening the pain) that cause the inflammation. Eliminating them entirely from the diet every day may be a big help to you.

      (This info is sourced from the Medical Medium books and podcasts by Anthony Williams and from my own experience having SIBO.)

  5. Daniel Ashmore on

    I agree almost all of the points listed in here are just wrong. Their is such little evidence suggesting any negative sides of GMO food. Of you’re allergic, don’t eat it. If you have IBS. Don’t eat it.

    Fortunately we are not fly’s. We are much bigger with completely different anatomy and physiology. Its easy to avoid eating it with other sweeners and as for overeating, their is also little evidence for this point and most people using the sweetener are counting calories anyway.

      • Eric on


        Warfarin kills rats; in humans it’s a blood thinner (some of the docs I’ve known love to laugh at the fact that they’re basically prescribing rat poison to a bunch of little old ladies). Rat physiology cannot handle the effects, human physiology can (and in cases benefits from it).

        After rereading your comment a couple times, I’m not entirely certain whether you were supporting Daniel or trying to mock him/her and inadvertently supporting their statements. Either way, bravo.

  6. Healthy Is Unprocessed NATURAL on

    I tried erythritol in coconut ice cream which had other “healthy” ingredients- no artificial sweeteners other than that. I am EXTREMELY picky with what I will eat and tried this out.

    Within a half hour I had a headache, nausea, and got the runs in a major way. I felt AWFUL.

    That was enough for me.

    This article just confirmed what I already experienced.
    Thanks for writing it.

    • jon on

      A company called KAL. Y ou can find it at some health food stores or online at amazon. It comes with a serving spoon that’s about a 32nd of a teaspoon. I love it.

    • Kate on

      I use NOW liquid Better Stevia brand. They have original, organic and flavors. Pure, whole-leaf stevia. I usually get the 8oz bottles from a vitamin discount website called Swansons. It’s much better than the powder form and it tastes the same as sugar in my tea. In coffee it takes a bit to get used to, but those are my two main uses. I did train myself to use Stevia exclusively in coffee because I love it sweet. Once I did that, I didn’t notice a difference. It helps when you go completely off of sugar too. Good luck! :)

      • Jay on

        Kate, what about the bitterness? I can hardly stand the bitterness from Stevia. Just a couple of drops and my coffee is unfit… but I drink it of course because, well, it’s coffee.

  7. Kendra on

    HEllo dr axe , I have to say I do disagree with you on the comment about erithrytol not satisfying the body , I would agree that by itself it would not be very satisfying indeed, but I use about 2 tbs in a chocolate mug cake recipe and it’s the only sweetener that didn’t make the cake taste bitter . So for me on my diet erithrytol seems to be a good addition since I’m on keto and count every carb , even stevia contains carbs that I have to count so I’m glad I have an alternative for baking at least .

  8. Christopher on

    Funny, ’cause, with all the people I’ve asked, I’ve never come across any complaints of “gastrointestinal distress, headaches and allergic reactions”.

    What value does it have? MY personal observation is that, there is NO “RUSH” whatsoever, when eating anything sweetened with Erythritol, so you taste a “cool” sweetness but without the feeling of “Wow, dude… I could eat more of that!” Result? A kind of “what’s the point of that” feeling.

    In the end, I don’t like becoming a slave to any man-made, white crystalline powders, and so its use is extremely limited. Some value if going keto, possibly.

    My recommendation is to use modest amounts of other NATURAL sweeteners like raw honey and maple syrup, bananas etc. and learn to cut down on your level of sweetness needed.

    • Justin Hunt on

      Your personal experiences don’t matter. The side effects are fairly well established by peer reviewed research articles. Here is one such example:

      Gastrointestinal tolerance of erythritol and xylitol ingested in a liquid. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007) 61, 349–354.

      And there are many others.

    • Denise on

      I’m a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, and have had people complain about erythritol. They report the same side effects that are in this article. Personally, I have experienced stomach discomfort myself. Some do okay on this, but personally, it’s not for me.

  9. Grace on

    I’m very allergic to erythromycin & was just wondering if the sweetener, erythritol, was a relative. I don’t want to kill myself with it, no matter how well it works.

  10. Justin Hunt on

    What is your rationale on the difference between erythritol produced from GMO cornstarch and non-GMO cornstarch? Even though the DNA is changed in the base ingredient, it doesn’t effect the chemical structure of the final product. Erythritol is erythritol, doesn’t matter how it’s made unless there is some kind of contaminant. (This coming from a graduate student and Dietetic intern who is doesn’t support the use of GMOs)

    • Sandra Amaral on

      Finally someone talking about this point. It’s insane the spread of wrong information. Erythritol is exactly the same compound both comming from GMO or non-GMO plants. You should be explaining the scientific information to people and not just spreading fear. Very disappointed.

    • Go Natural on

      I am so glad that someone finally pointed out the author’s most ridiculous reasoning (other reasons are laughable as well). And it can be so misleading to people who has no scientific background.
      I personally try to avoid GMO food, and am a huge advocate of natural and organic food. But we are talking about a chemical compound erythritol here. I’d like the author to explain the difference between GMO cornstarch produced erythritol and non-GMO cornstarch produced erythritol. LOL

  11. Lola on

    This article honestly made me so frustrated I wanted to scream. It is so frustrating to see people misunderstand what GMOs are and what they mean for health. The word “natural” in no way whatsoever always equals healthy. Things that are man-made in no way whatsoever always mean “unhealthy.” Many medications that save lives are man-made. Many natural materials such as corn starch can be rather unhealthy.

    Its sickening to see these buzzwords thrown around to scare people and elicit a response from them when they don’t fully understand biochemistry, and to in turn turn them unnecessarily away from something that could be an excellent diet ingredient. I urge everyone reading this to educate yourself on what a GMO is, and why they are in fact a positive thing. Do not be afraid. Please educate yourselves and don’t let articles like this scare you. I can assure you this is not 100% scientifically sound. And trust me, I’m quite scientifically competent.

    • Mike on

      Love this!!! If it doesn’t give you problems and it works for you, stop looking for reasons not to use it. There are so many “natural” things that are terrible for you. I lost 30 pounds on a diet that was very erythritol heavy and I have no regrets at all whatsoever. Not one headache, stomach ache, or case of diarrhea. I’d like to find the man that made this and thank him. Who cares if it’s also an effective pesticide? You can polish furniture with lemons, does that mean we shouldn’t eat them? I think not.

    • Dee on

      What education have you aquired that qualifys you as being “scientifically competent”?
      26 countrys currently ban GMO’s based on scientific evidence.
      You sould like a lobbyist for Monsanto.
      I’ll stay with Doctor Axes advice on sound nutrition.

    • Dapthania Ballydoyle on

      Using virus and plasmid bacteria as vectors to drag the DNA of one species into the DNA of another species in order to make said species so called “improved” is not my idea of ” healthy”. Especially when virus’s never fully leave the body. We have no idea how GMO’s are affecting humanity. The food we eat that contains GMO’s are not really the same food as before because they have traces of whatever genes the food has been spliced with. This is something that researchers that understand how GMO’s are made will not discuss for fear of being expelled from the academic community.

  12. Gina Liberti on

    Finally, an article about erythritol I can use in my classes. You are the first that I know of doing so (since Mercola has yet to present any data on this sweetener. However, I wish you would fall off the ‘natural’ bandwagon since a standardized definition has yet to be established and you are party to continuing to push a value-less label.

  13. Brian on

    You need to not be so general in your statements about Erythritol as it compares to other sugar alcohol. It is the least impactful on gastric system and is excreted through the kidneys. Which actually makes it one of the best sugar alcohols. Also be more specific about the term artificial sweeteners. Sugar alcohols are not technically artificial sweeteners. It is not anywhere similar to something like aspartame which was created in lab. It is extracted from food. I agree the source is key and requires adequate research before purchasing.

    • Its Science on

      It’s a chemical compound! The chemical formula doesn’t change based upon where it is derived from. If it’s derived from GMO plants, non-GMO plants or derived from Martian poop the chemical compound will always be C4-H10-O4.

      The source has NO EFFECT on the chemical makeup!

  14. Daniel on

    I agree to erythritol causing diarrhea. I ate today a bit of dark chocolate containing erythritol and after an hour or so I had to go urgently to the bathroom because of a strong purgative urge. I wondered what could have triggered the diarrhea, but was not sure. Later, re-reading the label I was curios about erythritol and decided to search it online, and now I found what caused the diarrhea.

    • Christopher Carr on

      Too many variables to say it caused the diarrhea for sure. It might have, but the vast majority of people do not suffer GI distress from erythritol, because very little of it ends up in your colon.

      Most people would have to eat a great deal of it in order to experience any such effects.

  15. Amy Bader on

    Would love to hear your thoughts on using non-gmo erythritol and xylitol to break up biofilms in the gut. Many of us ha e used them medicinally fur this with great success. Patients may have some side effects in short run but much better after treatment for a month or two. Thank you!!

  16. Catherine Craig on

    I noticed last year that I was developing arthritis in several of my fingers. The joints were red, swollen and tender. I had a job where I was drinking a lot of coffee with milk and truvia. I also used it in lots of hot tea and sweetened oatmeal with it. In an effort to reverse the arthritis I did an elimination diet and cut out wheat and dairy. I noticed very little difference. I kept drinking the coffee but with almond milk. I then went on a business trip where I unintentionally stopped the Truvia but ate cheese and bread. Amazingly within that week, my joints were better. Four weeks later I have cut out all the Truvia and my joints are essentially normal! Amazing!

    • kelly on

      My cousins son has type 1 diabetes. Erythritol is meant to be safe to use but it definitely spiked his blood sugar. he has a blood glucose monitor so it’s easy to determine where the spike has come from when no other sugars are consumed.
      Also, my friend is type 1 diabetic and is completely addicted to pepsi max. I know this is not erythritol, but i can safely tell you that this has definitely screwed with her body and her brain – just to throw it out there to those commenting who say that aspartame is safe! It also causes her to binge on high carb foods.
      It does not surprise me one bit that this alcohol sugar has caused concerns in your body. It’s unlikely that there are any studies to show that erythritol builds up in your system. I’m sure that if you have a kidney problem that you may struggle to excrete it.

  17. Gavin on

    People hear the word GMO and often associated it with words such as toxic, unnatural, cancer causing. Few people like something they don’t understand, so this is a natural initial response for a consumer without a background in science or engineering. I am an engineer and understand the science behind GMO’s. This article presents the claim that “studies have linked the consumption of GMOs with infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging…”. This is an astonishing accusation, comprable to propaganda, a misleading bias used to promote someones point of view, used to scare people that aren’t themselves a scientist, just a curious consumer. The Huffington post states that GMO’s are in 90% of the corn and soybeans grown. Why are we not all dying of these ailments, why isn’t CNN reporting on this every day? This is because scientists aren’t creating poisons, biology itself uses natural processes to change our own DNA to make us and our kids stronger and better. Scientists are simply using our massive advances that humanity has gained over the last few decades that allow us to dig deeper into what would have once came from science fiction movies, replacing genes in living things, removing the weaker, and replacing it with genes we know are biologically stronger. This sounds scary and complicated, but it really is not. Crop yields have increased from putting better genes into plants to keep them healthier and allow them to thrive. If we stop this, the very real reality of people starving during years of natural disasters is a very real possibility, especially as our populations continues to accelerate. Whether or not I have changed your mindset at all, I hope that you go out and research this issue from unbiased people, people who have spent decades on the issue and do not get caught up differentiating scientific facts, from biased opinions.

  18. Jen on

    Oh no! I have used liquid stevia, thinking I was doing ok, and found out it contains erythritol! (the baragain brand liquid stevia from walmart). I have been using it in my coffee, thinking it was safe. Should I be worried?

    • Christopher Carr on

      It *is* safe.

      This article is mostly BS.

      There’s a small chance it will cause a little bit of GI distress — but probably won’t because so little of it ends up in your colon. You pee 90% of it out, unchanged.

      And it’s good for your teeth.

  19. R Flannery on

    Thank you for your advice on best sugar substitutes.

    For those of us over 60 watching our sugar intake, do you have any suggestions regarding

    – recommended ‘not to exceed’ amounts of stevia/honey to use in recipes
    – you didn’t include maple syrup or maple sugar as a sugar substitute. Was there a reason for that?

  20. Marianne on

    I have been doing a lot of research on GMO foods. I disagree with a lot of comments by those against GMO foods.
    What I have discovered is for a large amount of GMO foods the modifications are to make the food less able to be damaged by adverse pest which damage and destroy the crops as well as making it possible for the growers to use much less chemicals on the crops.
    Just as an aside here, to received an Organic Certification growers are required to use chemical sprays to stop the spread of disease, the maximum level of chemical sprays is 15%.

    • Ronnie on

      No use trying to talk sense into those people; they all ignorantly subscribe to the general assumption that “artificial” “man-made” “processed” must equal garbage without any actual knowledge of the subject. If we eliminated pesticides and GMOs there would be famine but this will never happen, so these people are free to talk nonsense (i’m sure they’d change their tune if there was mass starvation). GMOs can be harmful but some are also beneficial (same with pesticides).

  21. Fran on

    Having welts that hurt and itch like crazy are not a gastrointestinal symptom but I did get them from Stevie and so did my brother. I also did get the gastrointestinal symptoms as well.

  22. JST on

    Your perception of GMOs doesn’t follow along with the lines of scientific research. “Genetically modified organism” is a term used to describe a lot of things. For both plants and animals, one of the more traditional ways is through selective breeding. Dogs are a prominent example of a selectively bred GMO. Farmers have been doing this for years too. Bananas are GMOs, bananas naturally have seeds. farmers will breed plants which have desirable traits, improving each generation. None of this poses any health risk to consumers.

    The GMOs that I think you’re referring to are the ones where DNA has actually been physically altered by humans, like the Monsanto and round-up situation. Now, those aren’t inherently hazardous to consumers either. The reason why these types of GMOs are bad for the American consumer is that a corporation can (and has) patented certain genetic traits, posing legal threats to small farmers and business owners.

  23. Alicia on

    2 days ago i used an artificial sweetener for the first time. I had a recipe to bake a cheesecake withan astralian brand Natvia which is a small part stevia the rest Erythritol. Later that night i ate a piece and 2 hours later i came up with hives, i took antihistamines and went to bed. The next morning i still had hives and by lunch time i had swollen hands/fingers toes and feet. I had also taken more antihistamines when i woke up in the morning. By the afternoon i had severe joint and neck pain and couldnt open or close my fingers and had a throbbing headache. I went to my doctor who did various tests and asked me if i had eaten or come into contact with anything different as i was having a severe allergic reaction. Nothing had changed except the artificial sweetener. I told my doctor and he wasnt surprised, he prescribed me with steroids and after 3 to 4 hours my symptoms began to diminish. Im so suprised and shocked. Hope this helps others

    • Aster on

      I’m sorry you are allergic to erythritol or stevia. You certainly should stay away from that product and either try to figure out which of the two ingredients caused your problem or avoid them both. Of course, neither of them are actually “artificial” sweeteners; though I know some people use that term for any sweetener that isn’t sugar, they both are naturally occurring.

      I have had allergic reactions to mangos in the past and avoid them (especially the skin-on fruit), but don’t let that stop you from eating mangos. Dr. Axe’s logic that everybody should avoid something because it can cause an allergic reaction in some people is a foolish one.

  24. Nelson Kerr on

    I found the article on Google and was reading it with interest until the anti-GMO woo started,

    Can you tell me the molecular differences between the GMO and non non GMO versions of this s compound, or are you selling snake oil?

  25. Ryan on

    I really think you should go back and think about your logic on a of these points, many of them have nothing even close to logical backing and are solely emotional claims, especially your insecticide claim… WHO CARES! We’re not Drosophila melaogaster are we!? Your GMO statements are the most ridiculous of them all, the US has been using GMOs since the mid 20th century and NOBODY has died from eating a GMO piece of corn. People do have terrible eating HABITS that lead to illness but these illnesses aren’t caused by GMOs themselves. Like others have said, if you’re allergic or it causes you problems, DON’T eat it. Many polyols are associated with GI distress under moderate to large doses like Sorbitol, SO don’t consume so much! It’s really common sense people

  26. Ronnie on

    The whole thing about erythritol going right through you and the body not getting any calories totally ignores the fact that lots of people use erythritol to sweeten FOOD (as in food that contains calories). I would also argue that stevia, while natural, is no better in this regard. It does the exact same thing as any other non-nutritive (and yes, ARTIFICIAL, MAN-MADE) sweetener when it comes to “confusing” the body by providing a sweet taste with ZERO calories. The fact that it’s natural DOES NOT magically change this! If one is prone to overeating due to their constant overuse of artificial sweeteners this will not change with stevia (which also primes the body for a sweet shot of sugar+energy that never comes).

  27. Al on

    Big deal… maybe you’ll get GI distress. What is is it? Less than 1 percent or 10-20%?
    Same thing with headaches and allergic reactions, big deal!!!!!!! Then you just throw in, it could even cause brain cancer. Nothing to substantiate than statement. No studies to quote etc. what you say may actually be true but blow it all out of proportion to non knowledgable folks.
    By the way satiety is not only linked to the type of sweetener you use, but more to what you eat and the combinations you put on your plate or the amt of protein ,good and bad carbs, and fat on your plate,

  28. Joe on

    It’s articles like these that give healthy eating a bad name. The next article to come out: 7 reasons not to go outside. Then: 7 reasons why it’s dangerous to be alive.

    Stop writing content for the sake of content. And you can’t “cite” your own site! There might be some credibility to some of these claims if there were any links to academic papers, but many of the links just link to other anti-anything propaganda sites.

    Please stop ruining liberalism.

  29. Nicki on

    Can you please explain to me how genetic modification does anything to the molecular structure of a purified sugar molecule? What exactly is the argument you’re making against the derivation of a pure sugar from a GMO starch? It will either be erythritol or not-erythritol, there is no other effect.

    • John on

      The problem with GMO crops is the reason they are modified. Crops are modified genetically for glyphosate use. Apparently millions of pounds of this chemical are used in our food supplies and it’s been identified as a carcinogen among other health risks.

      • Michele on

        Thank you for this in-depth article and describing both the pros and cons of erythritol. Wow, there’s a lot of trolling — perhaps the most convincing reason of all to avoid erythritol?

      • Christopher Carr on

        The point being that erythritol is erythritol, regardless of the GMO status of the plant from which it’s derived. There is *no* difference between erythritol from a GMO or non-GMO plant.

    • Christopher Carr on


      It’s actually been found recently that non-GMO corn has much *higher* levels of mycotoxins from fungus than GMO corn.

    • Nope on

      Spoiler alert GMOs are just organisms where changes are directed by humans rather than nature. You should love GMOs its what makes your weed so much danker than it was in the 60s

  30. Cassandre on

    Well, this is a bit misleading. It being a GMO does not make it bad. And fyi, all corn is gmo. To single out only some corn as being gmo is a lie. And the fact that it can kill insects either doesn’t necessarily make it bad. We eat plenty of other compounds (and our body even produces some) that are used in insecticides, but the way we eat them and the amount that we eat makes them non lethal. Not to mention we have different organ systems than insects… What may affect them will not affect us the same way. Your other points may have been valid but it’s difficult to take them seriously when they’re interlaced with stupidity and fear mongering.



  32. Jeff on

    Thanks for the info on Erythritol. It is in my new So Delicious coconut non-dairy “ice cream”. I checked the label, which states “Non-GMO Project verified”, so I guess it is the “good” kind. Waiting to see what my stomach does…

    • Christopher Carr on

      90% of it is absorbed and excreted in your urine, so it’s unlikely to do anything to your stomach, unless you eat a very large amount of it.

      It’s good for your teeth, also. Most of this article is BS.

  33. Chris on

    Thanks for the interesting article. From what grasped from it; erythritol is toxic for (house) flies. From what I have found it is FRUIT flies that erythritol is toxic to (so far.) Also, fruit flies are attracted to sweet things. Regular (house) flies are more attracted to rotten, dead, or stinky things. I also found an article where erythritol has been effective bait/insecticide for fire ants. Thanks again!

  34. Christopher Carr on

    It’s a shame this article ranks as high as it does in search engines, because it’s full of woo-woo, hippy mush-brain nonsense.

    For one thing, erythritol is erythritol — no matter it’s source (GMO or not). It doesn’t carry any sort of bad voodoo if it comes from a GMO plant. Because erythritol is erythritol, and doesn’t contain any DNA. Erythritol is C4 H10 O4, no matter how it’s produced.

    Erythritol rarely causes gastrointestinal distress, because so little of it ends up in your colon. If other polyols give you problems, chances are very good erythritol won’t — unless you eat a ton of it.

    This article is like some BS you would find in Natural News.

  35. Jacki on

    I absolutely love NON-GMO Wholesome Zero PURE erythritol. It is definitely not as sweet as sugar (or the artificial sweeteners) and dissolves best in hot water. I use it mainly as a sweetener for home-made iced tea, occasionally for hot tea or hot cereal, and I dissolve a little in a bit of hot water to sprinkle on berries that turn out to be not sweet–like strawberries & raspberries. I find them otherwise flavorless and unappealing. I don’t use it in large quantities, have never had any side effects and there is no aftertaste for me. I will add that I am a physician (MD) and am very attentive to what I ingest.

    • Michael R Evans on

      You do realize the whole non gmo bullshit is just that…bullshit. Humans have used selective breeding to change genetics of food sources for about 7000 years the only thing buying non gmo foods does is makes your wallet lighter

      • Nope on

        False refusing to buy non gmo foods also allows you to justify the vague sense of superiority you have to the strangers around you everyday without having to admit that your just a smug fuckface who misinforms guillible morons on the internet.

    • Nope on

      If you were an actual physician you wouldnt feel the need to point it out unprovoked and you would know that gmos are harmless…

  36. Indi on

    So bad article. So many lies here. This is a sugar industry article. It s like a comercial. There are so many studies on this substance and write articles like you write your memories??? What s wrong with you?

  37. Becky on

    Dr Axe, I am disappointed in you. I have come to value your opinion but this article makes me question that choice..
    Erythritol is not “toxic” to the bugs, be transparent before use scare tactics like this. The bugs die because they starve to death eating a sweet tasting food that has zero caloric value. It is death by starvation, NOT poison. I get that you prefer natural sweeteners, but trying to scare people aware from a valid option by only telling half truths is beneath you sir.

    • Nope on

      Plus just because something has multiple uses doesnt mean its bad salt kills snails but humans need sodium to live. When someone doesnt like something and they feel their reasons wont convince others they grasp around for shit like the insecticide nonsense

    • kelly on


      Definition of toxic
      tox·ic (tŏk′sĭk) adj. 1. Of, relating to, or caused by a toxin or other poison: a toxic condition; toxic hepatitis. 2. Capable of causing injury or death, especially by chemical means; poisonous: toxic industrial waste.

      Note definition No. 2 – It’s a chemical, if they eat it, they won’t eat anything else and therefore starve. Therefore the word “toxic” is actually a fitting definition to what you have just described.

  38. Cheryl Mathis on

    Dr. Josh, Thank you soo Much for Honest Answers!!! I know what to buy now. I wish I had seen your site before. Everyone should read it. Your extremely knowledgeable and so kindly pass it along to your readers. You got rid of my confusion. Because manufactures that use these in their products do not reveal the real truth. They hide it! Thank you for the TRUTH!!!
    Again Thank You So Very Very Much!!!

  39. Mark C Hanson on

    Aspartame is not bad for most people. My mother has been using it for decades, and is healthy at 89. It is better for you than sucralose (Splenda), which is chemically altered sugar. Stevia is better for you than Splenda as well. I have severe fibromyalgia and do not use Aspartame. You are making some pretty broad statements, some of which have limited basis. Just saying.

    • Cathy Jones on

      My understanding is that people with PKU are extremely sensitive to aspartame. It can cause brain lesions, especially children. I had a reaction, so I will not use it.

      • kelly on

        people with Phenylketoneuria are unable to absorb the enzyme phenylalanine, which is the main compound of aspartame I believe. Regardless, I’m glad you don’t use it. It has so many toxic side effects and quite possibly the reason for the increased amount of dementia in the world since its release.

    • kelly on

      You say you have “severe fibromyalgia” yet you throw out the advice of someone who has had success in treating and reversing illnesses such as fibromyalgia……. might be time to pull your head out from under the sheets and consider some alternative options. Generally the reason why most people come to this site.

  40. Allen on

    My biggest problem with Stevia was it killed my libido. What is a better alternative that won’t have that affect and is NOW Non GMO Erythritol ok?

  41. Jeff on

    Erythritol is erythritol no matter what source it comes from, GMO or non-GMO. The structure is the same no matter what. It doesn’t carry over anything from GMO genes.

    • Nope on

      Ya but the authors clear bias against anything artificial means that if you can relate something to gmos then its bad

  42. Cheryl on

    Raw honey is not good for blood sugar. I know….
    Monkfruit is astronomically expensive and stevia has a horrible flavor.

  43. Cathy Jones on

    I had a different reaction to erythritol. I felt a baring down feeling travel down my abdomen and back. When that feeling reached my legs, I could not move my legs, but felt intense pain and my legs began to shake. It was very frightening. I’m wondering if I should report this to help others, but I’m not sure where.

  44. Nope on

    Gmos are bad. If i dont fully understand something the. Its bad!!! thats why both my pet dogs are putebreed wolves and I only eat wild growing plants that could sustain about 3% of the population

  45. Kaity on

    You’re really reaching on the investiture argument… grapes and macadamia nuts are toxic to dogs, that doesn’t make them inherently bad. Who cares if bugs can’t eat erythritol? Bugs aren’t humans.

  46. Wesley S Hood on

    Funny when you talk about ‘low levels’ of bacteria in your small intestine. Actually there are normally twice the number of bacteria in you small and large intestine than cells in the rest of your body. Some say that number can be as high as 5 times more. Also, normal bacteria and number of bacteria change from person to person. A pair of twins that live on opposite sides of town most likely will only share 10-15% of the gut bacteria. Don’t fear them. They are amazing creatures and absolutely necessary for us to live. Watch some TEDtalks on gut bacteria and have your mind blown. They even say that guy bacteria communicate with our own brain. Amazing.

  47. Aaron Mueninghoff on

    I’m concerned about the lack of proper citation. At the end of the 1 reason not to consume erythritol, footnote 6 is given as the source and justification. However, the actual scientific research linked seems to have nothing to do with GMO foods. “Pharmacogenomics of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (cftr) and the cystic fibrosis drug cpx using genome microarray analysis” is a study on human gene editing and how it could be used to develope a cure to cystic fibrosis, a regenerative disease that kills mainly children. The study has nothing to do with GMO foods. This lack of scientific literacy or honesty is concerning, especially from website offering advice on food choices.

  48. Carol L on

    OK: I am just starting on the Keto diet, and would like to find a sweetener for substituting. If not xylitol, erythritol….what is a suitable substitute?

  49. Tom on


    1. You are allegedly reviewing a substance called Erythritol. Your first reason for not to use it is that some sources of Erythritol are from GMO plants. It’s like saying don’t eat carrots because there is a GMO carrot somewhere out there (not even mentioning your complete lack of understanding of what GMO is and how it works)

    2. Even worst than point 1. You reviewing a substance and telling your readers not to use it because it may be mixed with some other substances. It has nothing to do with Erythritol and is completely irrelevant.

    3. Everything got side effects if consumed in too high dose or if you are allergic or otherwise sensitive to it. Peanut can easily kill a human but we know that peanuts are not that bad for us and may even have some health benefits.

    4. Again, for an average consumer who has no eating disorders and who would like to replace some of the sugar he consumes with low-calorie alternative this is completely irrelevant as well.

    5. Again, completely irrelevant for the average consumer.

    6. See point 3.

    7. Chocolate is poisonous to dogs. It’s got no negative effect on humans as we can easily metabolise theobromine that is very dangerous to our four legged friends. Would you use that as an argument against eating chocolate?

    Do you have even one argument why healthy, eating disorder free person should not use Erythritol as a substitute for some of the sugar?

  50. Paul on

    Wow, the scare tactic on insecticide use is so over the top as to negate anything else this ‘Dr’ could say.
    It makes insects think they are eating calories when they aren’t.

    If you are as stupid as a fruit fly, then please take his advise-otherwise, please look at reasonable research on human uses and positive examples of Glucose alternatives.

  51. Bedoor on

    I got an allergic skin reaction from consuming Erythritol. I got a cluster of pimples on different parts of my body (like 3 or 4 close together), and its really itchy. I also started sneezing and felt like I’m getting a throat infection.

  52. Nick on

    Wait, I don’t understand how having it come from a GMO source makes it any worse. The final product is the same and chemically indistinguishable regardless of the source. Also, you do realize that eating GMO foods, and especially products that are derived from them, doesn’t result in the genetic material integrating into your body, just as eating chicken every day will never make you sprout feathers.

  53. Kayla S on

    I would really really love the opportunity to pick your brain about GMO’s, your views and especially your research that has led you to these claims. I’m experienced in the GMO business, agricultural field and even the studies that have been conducted (none of which- in the entire world- support any claims that GMO’s have a negative effect on the body). Very curious how an educated person could be mistaken by such an absurd belief. Trying to learn more about perceptions and the phychology of fear that is sadly oak often implemented in these claims. Would love to learn more so that I can be a better educator and advocate!

  54. kelly on

    I came across this article while reading the one on xylitol, after making a keto pudding and getting sick while i was trying to eat it. i got through about 1/3 of it before i realised what was going on. SO, looking at erythritol and seeing that the majority of it is excreted via the kidneys, i’m interested in knowing if there has ever been any research on the effects of the renal system. Especially if there are any increased risk to those who suffer from kidney disease!

  55. L on

    I’m also curious about erythritol’s effect on renal issues. Started a keto diet several months ago and experienced much more urination than usual, which I know is a side effect of keto diet anyway, but now I notice that since my body has adapted to keto, I have to urinate more frequently (and urgently) after having consumed erythritol. Also have also been experiencing some pain in the kidney area. Was wondering for awhile if it’s because my body isn’t dealing with the keto diet well, but now that I think about it, I wonder if it could be from using erythritol in some recipes. My body is very sensitive, so as of now, methinks the erythritol could be causing the kidney pain, which to me means something funky is happening in there. Not worth it for me! Everyone is different, so I’m sure erythritol works well for some. Probably just not for me, which is kinda sucky because I’m allergic to stevia and monk fruit. Ah, well. Simpler and unprocessed is usually better anyway, at least for me.

  56. julie on

    where do we get green Stevia? I have been using Trader Joes small bottle of powdered stevia without any issues. thank you for this great article

  57. Momoffour on

    Just got back from the ER with a child who had a rather severe allergic reaction to either stevia in whipped cream or swerve in the cake the whipped cream was on. All over rash, swelling in face, scratchy throat, coughing and wheezing. We watch his diet carefully because of a soy allergy and never thought about being allergic to a sweetener. He had about a tablespoon of whipped cream and a one inch square piece of cake. It was tiny. The reaction started within minutes of eating it.

  58. meera lee on

    Hi my boyfriend and i got really sick after using erythritol after a few months. I had nausea and vomiting once after enjoying a dessert i’d made. Then it took 2 weeks for the cramps to go away. I will bet when/if further studies are done on the microbiome that it will be found this sweetener is not good for many people.

  59. Sheila on

    I purchased Ocean Spray Pact Cranberry Infused Water , says non GMO and it says it has Erythritol (Natural Sweetener) as one of the ingredients. Is this safe to drink? Trying to get away from drinking cokes!

  60. Theresa on

    Uggg!! I’ve bought and returned a number of Keto suggested sweetness. Now my latest purchase, Truvia , is a no no!!! What is really the safest?? Does anyone really know here??? Frustrated newbie to Keto🙀

  61. Drek on

    The argument that it is a GMO and unsafe is irrelevant. Whether or not the sugar alcohol is derived naturally or from a human made source, it is still the same molecule. Whether it comes from modified corn or an “organic” apple or whatever makes you feel safer, the molecule does the same thing in the body. Maybe the other stuff about digestion and headache are true. But don’t call it a GMO.


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