Saccharin Induces Diabetes By Messing With Your Microbes. And it’s in my toothpaste.

Uh oh.

Many of you are probably already aware of the big study from the past week — the one showing that artificial sweeteners impair glucose tolerance by modifying your gut bacteria. If you aren’t, read up. I’ll have more to say about this study — some deeper questions and some dot connecting — soon.

But right now I want to alert people to something a little more practical.

Earlier today, I was reading this post on the blog of microbiologist Jonathan Eisen. In the post he calls attention to the fact that triclosan, an antibacterial agent, is in his toothpaste. He takes toothpaste makers to task for downplaying and minimizing the risk, and he’s right. A study recently came out showing that triclosan promotes nasal colonization of Staphylococcus aureus. Major source of infections.

Triclosan is the active ingredient in antibacterial soaps and lots of other products. More and more research is showing that it’s bad stuff, and many people are catching on. But as Jonathan’s post shows, many people aren’t aware of just how many things it’s in.

I myself have known about triclosan in toothpaste for a while, and so I’ve made it a point to avoid it. But since I hadn’t really paid attention in a while, I decided to go and check my current tube of Crest toothpaste just to make sure. Luckily, no triclosan.

But then I noticed something else.

Buried in the ingredients list, I found this:




You just can’t win, can you?

Now, I have no idea if the amount of saccharin in toothpaste is clinically significant. And I know, you aren’t swallowing a ton of toothpaste. But multiple brushings a day, every day, over decades? And what about the oral microbial impact?

Honestly, I don’t care. I’m buying new toothpaste tomorrow.

Oh, and I love this Q&A on Crest’s website:


Saccharin in Crest Toothpaste?


We use saccharin as a sweetener in Crest for a variety of reasons. Saccharin offers better stability both during manufacture and while on store shelves or in your medicine cabinet. Saccharin does not contribute to the development of cavities.

We’re confident our use of saccharin is completely safe for our customers, or we would not use it. Consumers regularly ingest higher levels of saccharin in more frequently used foods and beverages than we would ever expect them to ingest by using Crest. And, of course, our use of saccharin is permitted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Oh good. I’m sure the FDA is up on the latest microbiome research. I bet they’re issuing a warning as we speak.

By the way, saccharin was banned as a carcinogen by the U.S. and Canada in the 1970s. Those bans have since been lifted because, as far as I can tell, saccharin isn’t quite cancer-y enough and it’s more important to allow food manufacturers to make money from people dying, or something.

Moral of the story: Microbiome research makes everything outdated, and puts everything under suspicion.

That is all.

— Heisenbug


25 thoughts on “Saccharin Induces Diabetes By Messing With Your Microbes. And it’s in my toothpaste.

  1. I’ve tried to school my 6 and 8 year old on not eating toothpaste.

    I’m proving to be a terrible teacher … and they’re proving to be dumb-arse students.

    • Chris, children under age 9 are not supposed to be using fluoridated toothpaste. They are not able to rinse it out effectively. There are products on the market for children which do not contain fluoride.

  2. No. Wait… it’s all good.

    According to Colgate ( they “…recently sponsored a comprehensive, independent analysis of the scientific literature regarding triclosan containing toothpaste and endocrine effects. This analysis, also published in a peer-reviewed journal, affirms the safety of our toothpaste.”

    Phew, I was worried there for a minute. Thank God, Colgate is looking after the my family’s interests.

    Well, they’re looking after someone’s interests. But I’m guessing it’s not really families.

  3. My teeth got really sensitive a few months ago and I changed my brushing habits so at least one of my twice-daily brushings was with baking soda only. Within a few days the sensitivity went away. It’s not minty fresh and it doesn’t have fluoride, but baking soda also doesn’t have triclosan or saccharin. I probably should have started using it years ago.

      • Start the tap, dump what looks like a half a teaspoon or more of baking soda on your palm, dampen the toothbrush under the tap, and touch the little pile of baking soda with the toothbrush so a good clump sticks to the brush, and there you go. Brush, rinse.

        Then I put some baking soda in my mouth and slosh it around either with saliva only or a tiny sip of water for a good 30 seconds and spit that out, no additional rinse.

        Baking soda is not a whitener, but it does take off some of the coffee-tea-cola stains as well as being nice for your gums.

    • You’ll probably find good toothpaste brands with no triclosan or fluoride at the health food store — brands like Tom’s, Nature’s Gate, and Peelu. Tom’s makes toothpaste with and without flouride, so take care to read the ingredient lists.

  4. Great blog and thank you for expanding my knowledge of microbiome. My A1C has inmproved dramatically since I began researching gut bacteria about how processed products can adversely affect the bacterial balance and thus my blood glucose. Not to mention how much better I am feeling overall

  5. This reminds me of many years ago when my mother was absolutely incredulous that one of the big-name toothpaste brands (likely the same) had sugar in it. She would tell everybody she saw buying it, “You’re brushing your teeth with sugar! How does that make sense?”

    • There is a dentist who proudly declares on his blog that he brushes his teeth with sugar. He uses xylitol, a sugar that supports good oral hygiene by promoting the growth in the population of “good” bacteria in the mouth as opposed to the kind of bacteria that cause tooth decay. Finland, where most of the research on xylitol has been conducted, considers providing children with xylitol multiple times a day a matter of public health and so school children are given xylitol after snack and lunch times. Your dentist undoubtedly knows about the benefits of xylitol but for obvious reasons never recommends that his patients use it. Check the data on the web – the Finns have even found that xylitol can reverse the formation of cavities. I’ve been using it for about two years, following a bad attack of oral lichen planus, one of those many diseases for which medical science has no explanation and no cure. I’m still knocking wood that I found out about it on the web. Oh, and it is dirt cheap – buy the kind derived from birch and made by Swanson on their web site. The current recommendation is to have 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of xylitol melt in your mouth five times a day. In any case, even if you do not use xylitol there is really no need to use toothpaste at all.

      • How does xylitol work? Does it selectively feed non-pathogenic bacteria in the mouth, or does it have an antibacterial effect? If the latter, couldn’t xylitol also wreak havoc on the gut microbiota just like saccharin does? (Don’t know the answers to these questions, but I am curious.)

      • We also use Xylitol toothpaste in our family, NOW brand. It should be the first ingredient if used for therapeutic use and not just as a sweetener. From my readings it starves the caries causing bacteria like Staph. aureus, but I have been wondering what other effects it may have on the mouth/gut microbiota. Interesting about being used as a supplement in Finland, as we went the same route when our toddler would refuse to brush. Bought a 1lb bag of pure xylitol crystsls at health food store. We never have plaque build up on our teeth and the dentist always comments on how healthy our mouths look.

  6. In fact, xylitol does have an antibacterial effect, to the degree there’s research on using it in dressings or washes for wounds. And it does have a significant effect in the gut, too, however, all the results seem to be good, not bad. There’s a boatload of research on xylitol and it’s mindblowing — not just for teeth, but health too.

  7. As far as i understand it xylatol creates a moist “barrier ” film, which completely coats the tooth, a film that has zero bacterial bioavility, so yes it starves bacteria clinging to the tooth and takes someting like 20 purpousefull brushes to remove the film.

    Having said all that, there are plenty of studies, showing that xylatol pimps out colonic scfa production….but at the price of biome diversity (cant remember, but i think it increases gram negitive populations,and supresses gram positive. There are also studies showing increased bone density , with xylatol supplementation!!?

    Also check out the research oncoconut oil, regarding gum disease/tooth decay, its a crazy powerful “mechanical” antimicrobial , which gets entirely slurped up by the liver, before it can reach/alter the colonic biome

    Google tooth re-mineralisation(or bing it, if you are stuck in a time warp ) .calmag supplementation is an important part of re-mineralisation, but also physical contact with the minerals is an important part!

    I have bad teeth , so i brush with a cheap alkaline cal-mag(oxide/carbonate) suppliment , mixed with a bit of arganine ( research arganine + CaO), you can actually feel the tooth…umm, i guess ..hardening?, then i finish off with xylatol swishing.

    As far as ingesting calmag goes , get one with is aac/citrate/ascorbate. Dont waste time on oxide/co2, it will just get absorbed, and dumped, in your veins/joints!!!!!also get a suppliment with D3! BORON!! And K2!!!!!!!!!!!……also take ti with fat (for d3+ k2’s sake).

    No im not a quack…..but you really should check out my website on how to buy and make a free energy device from a an omminous looking coil, and unicorn laughter.

  8. Oh jaa i forgot to mention that silicon consumption seems essential for bone and tooth health….no idea how you would supliment with it tho, maybee eggshels/chitin YUCK!!

    Unrelateted silicon seems essential for colligen and elastin growth/repair,silicon mal absorbtion (due to deminished HCl)production is speculated to be the cause of old peeps becoming gross and saggy/wrinkly.

    I digress, but if tight junctions do really exist (cant remember, but dont think i could find any hard evidence supporting their existence? ) this could be really benificial.

    Also i think i read something, about enammel being compised mostly of an organic magnesium silicon compound, but i could be horribly wrong about that one?

  9. Try xylitol it does these best job on S. Mutan . I would further would say that the base of the toothpaste such as those who use white clay and baking soda help do the thorough job. Xylitol is just a tremendous beginning. Erythritol and Xylitol work best together. I suppose I am a little prejudice toward xylitol because of person use success and years of study however erythritol seems to be more comprehensive and thorough to keep the mouth clean.

  10. As a regular user of Splenda for over 10 years, I would love to read your take on what it does to intestinal bacteria. I’ll keep checking back! (PS I don’t use it anymore!)

  11. Hi Mr. Heisenbug,

    I just discovered your blog and I’ve been all over the blog just trying to find more information in terms of gut bacteria

    I was wondering if you can write about several health issues that I believe concern a lot of people (especially male)

    Can improvement in gut flora composition improve testosterone production? If so, how?
    How do you fix problems of cold hands and feet, or just cold temperature in general? Is it really as the RS-camp said, just improve on SCFA production? I’ve been trying to nail this problem down for a while with no solution.
    How do you view the mystery of hair loss in terms of gut bacteria, as it is probably the last bit of the puzzle that is unsolved to me. (the DHT, circulation and etc pretty much everyone have figured out but no one mentioned gut bacteria..I wonder how that works in your view)

    I know that’s a lot to ask for but I’m just doing my own research lately and hitting a bottleneck.

  12. I never knew this could be in my toothpaste. I think the next time I buy toothpaste I will have to look into the ingredients. I would think I eat healthy but never thought to check out what is in my toothpaste. Crazy.

  13. I wanted to reply to the conversation about lactulose in the conversation in your interview with Seth but that is closed. So I’ll do so here. People have been drinking warm beverages and eating milk-based cooked foods since they first started drinking milk. Both of those things were much more common than they are in modern times. People even drank their beer hot in cold weather only a couple hundred years ago. So I don’t think you should consider lactulose an uncommon part of “natural” food diet.

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