Inulin

What is it?

Inulin is a naturally occurring soluble fiber found in many types of plants.  Although found in many plants, higher levels are naturally found in chicory root, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, yacon root, onions and asparagus. [1]

What does it do?

Inulin is commonly known as a prebiotic and literature suggests that inulin in foods may help improve digestive health. The definition of a prebiotic according to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) is “a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit.”[2]

Inulin is used as a prebiotic ingredient in Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, body wash, liquid hand soap, and bar soap. Our prebiotic toothpaste, which contain inulin, helps support the good bacteria to maintain a healthy balance (by feeding good bacteria in your mouth and reducing odor associated with bad breath). Our prebiotic cleansing formulas (body wash, liquid hand soap,and bar soap), which contain inulin helps support good bacteria to keep skin in healthy balance (by promoting the growth of good bacteria and retaining skin's natural moisture).    

How is it made?

Our Stewardship Model guides us to select ingredients which have been processed in a manner that supports our philosophy of human and environmental health.

Inulin occurs naturally in many plants.  The inulin we use is extracted from Cichorium intybus (chicory) roots and Agave tequilana pina (agave) using hot water and is further purified before being used in our products. Inulin derived from chicory roots is further purified through deproteinization, ion exchange, and enzymatic purification.  Inulin from agave is extracted using hot water, and filtered.  Both are spray dried to form a powder for use in our products.   In our oral care products we use a combination of inulin derived from chicory and agave, whereas in personal care we use inulin from agave. 

What are the alternatives?

There are other prebiotic ingredients that could be used depending on the product you are making.  Inulin was chosen for our oral care and cleansing products based on its effectiveness. 

Is this the right option for me?

Inulin can be found naturally in a variety of edible fruits and vegetables and is identified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a dietary fiber ingredient used to improve the nutritional value of manufactured food products.  Inulin is commonly extracted from chicory root and agave for use in a variety of products.

Tom’s of Maine recognizes that no two people are alike, and even with naturally derived ingredients, some individuals may develop an allergic reaction that is unique to them. As with any product, be sure to discontinue use if you experience discomfort or other indications that the product may not be appropriate for your individual body chemistry.

1 “Inulin 101 – A prebiotic fiber with powerful health benefits”, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318593.php

2 “Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics.”, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28611480