What are polyols?

Polyol Molecule
Modification of original image by Bin im Garten (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Polyols, also known as sugar-alcohols, are a group of naturally sweet carbohydrates found in several plants, stone fruits, vegetables, and plant fibres. Polyols are commonly used to replace sugar in many sugar-free foods, toothpaste, and diabetic confections; some are formulated for use in pharmaceutical products. Sugar alcohols offer several physiological benefits, such as reducing the glycaemic response after eating, preventing tooth decay, supporting a healthy blood glucose level and assisting in weight management due to their low-calorie count. Although sweet-tasting, they are sugar-free; this is a confusing dynamic to understand!

‘Polyol’ or ‘sugar-alcohol’ is a chemical structure term – carbohydrates with the suffix ‘ol’ – and must not be confused with:

  • sugar carbohydrates – substances with the suffix “ose”, e.g. sucrose, glucose, fructose or lactose;
  • alcohol in the alcoholic beverage sense of the word – that form of alcohol is called ethanol;
  • artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame k or saccharine.

Some polyols, in their crude state, can cause digestive upsets such as flatulence or diarrhoea in very sensitive or food-intolerant subjects, usually when they are used in large amounts too frequently. Since 2004, we’ve used a proprietary blend of isomalt specific to tablet applications and have found that our products are tolerated very well.

The body doesn’t absorb sugar alcohols in the same way as carbohydrates in sugar. Instead, polyols behave more like digestive fibre and pass through the digestive tract with virtually no metabolic change, releasing the mineral energies when the tissue salts are chewed or dissolved in the mouth.

The isomalt sugar-alcohols in our tissue salts have a prebiotic effect and are effective for many sensitive and food-intolerant clients. If you are sensitive and can eat stone fruits such as plums or prunes, or vegetables such as beetroot, you should have no problem using our tissue salts if you stick to the baseline recommended dose when starting out. When there is a lack of intestinal flora due to past use of antibiotics, candida, too much sugar in the diet upsetting the natural balance and so on, we advise sensitive people who experience flatulence or digestive upsets to use a probiotic as well for the first few weeks.

My daughter suffered eczema allergies since birth and developed extreme food intolerances along the way, yet has had no problem using the polyol-based tissue salts. At one stage, she was tested and advised to eliminate wheat and gluten, dairy products and even some vegetables such as green peppers. It left precious little that she could eat, but she was able to use the tissue salts throughout this period – in fact, she increased her use of tissue salts during this time without using the modified method detailed below. As a result, she has now overcome these intolerances, and her diet has almost become regular. I think that part of that process has been that she has been using the tissue salts whilst being careful with her diet and listening to her body.

Concerns regarding pets

One of the polyol groups, xylitol, although safe for humans, is toxic to dogs. The other polyols have shown no such toxicity to animals. Our tissue salts contain no xylitol and are well tolerated by pets. Since the age of 9 weeks (6,5kg), my puppy has enjoyed them so much that when he sees or hears me using the salts, he rushes up to wait for his. After a month, there have been no signs of digestive distress, flatulence or diarrhoea – despite having about 6 different tissue salts tablets in the morning and the evening (approximately 12 tablets daily). Instead, he chews them diligently and seems to want more. I’m delighted at this response because I know if an acute situation arises, there will be no problem getting him to use them!

How to use the tissue salts in cases of extreme sensitivities

It is challenging to find a perfect diluent to fit everyone’s needs. I hope the day arises when such a product emerges, suitable for trituration and holding the mineral energies of the tissue salts. The sugar alcohols are the most optimal at this stage to fit our products’ processing and stability requirements. Where people have extreme sensitivities, we can resolve it in one of two ways:

  • by dissolving the tablets in a little boiling water (perhaps crushing the salts with a spoon in hot water) and then adding enough cold water to cool down. The solution can then be held in the mouth, swished for a minute or so, and then expectorated.
  • Another option is to crush the tablets and apply them with a moistened toothbrush onto the gums (as in using brushing powders). This way, the minerals can be absorbed by the buccal mucosa without the absorption of the diluent. This effectively is the same as exposing your mouth to most modern kinds of toothpaste containing xylitol or other polyols.

One thought on “What are polyols?”

  1. Hi Allison.
    Thank you for the information.I will have to check if I have a sesitivity to polyols.
    Though I don’t do well with fruit at all.

    Thank you
    Hawa Jacob

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