Natural Sources:     

Burdock root, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root, dandelion root, salsify root, onions, bananas, asparagus, leeks, garlic, globe artichoke, wheat and other herbs.     


Powdered FOS extracts from chicory root; burdock root teas; chicory root teas and alternative coffees; other herb teas rich in FOS.     

Therapeutic Uses:     

– Antibacterial (indirectly against gut pathogens)
– Antibiotic Side-effect Prevention
– Beneficial Intestinal Microflora Support
– Bone and Joint Health
– Cancer
– Cellular Regeneration
– Chrone's Disease
– Cold Prevention
– Colds and Flu
– Colon Health
– Constipation
– Cleansing
– Demulcent
– Detoxifying
– Diabetes
– Digestive Disorders
– High Cholesterol
– High Triglycerides
– Hypertension
– Irritable Bowel Syndrome
– Joint Stiffness
– Kidney Health Maintenance
– Liver Health Maintenance
– Mineral Deficiencies
– Mucous Membrane Protection
– Gastrointestinal Disorders
– Laxative
– Skin Problems
– Soothing
– Sports Nutrition
– Sugar Control
– Urinary Tract Health
– Weight Loss
– Weight Management
– Yeast Infections     


Fructo-Oligo-Saccharides (FOS), otherwise referred to as fructans, oligosaccharides, oligofructose and inulin, are complex carbohydrates found in several common foods and myriad medicinal herbs. Fructans taste sweet (1/4 the sweetness of sugar) however unlike sugar and starch, they add no calories to food because they are not digested by stomach enzymes or acids. Fructans actually increase mineral absorption within the digestive system, help the body to maintain a constant blood sugar level and support beneficial intestinal microflora (BIM). Beneficial microflora boost the human immune system, produce several B vitamins, ward off different types of cancers, provide the body with various essential prostaglandins for balancing hormones and prevent pathogenic organisms from gaining a foothold in the body. Fructans are fermented by beneficial intestinal microflora in the bowel and act as a Pre-Biotic. Fructans, as a source of soluble fibre, support proper bowel habit in the following ways: 1) FOS helps the body to maintain a constant blood sugar level; 2) supports beneficial intestinal microflora; 3) reduces intraluminal pH which helps to eliminate pathogenic bacteria and yeast; 4) reduces bowel transit time; 5) reduces starch absorption (thereby aiding in weight loss); 6) increases the production of short chain fatty acids that positively influence hormone balance; and 7) reduces cholesterol and triglycerides. Traditional diets contained many more foods with FOS compared with average diets today. Few people realize that the starch in carrots and potatoes is quickly converted within the body and creates a sharper spike in blood sugar and insulin than eating a chocolate bar. High blood sugar and insulin levels are aging bombshells that cause some of the terrible circulatory and eyesight problems common to diabetics. Poor eating habits and the use of antibiotics can wreak havoc on the digestive system by wiping out friendly symbiotic bacteria that inhabit our intestines.

Additional Health Benefits of Fructans:

Fructans such as inulin, are beneficial for weight management programs as they have the following physiological effects: fructans suppress appetite, reduce low blood sugar levels that cause hunger, inhibit fat production, stimulate glycolysis, positively regulate key enzymes that convert calories to fat, reduce lipids resulting in a healthier body and circulatory system, improve HDL/LDL ratios and help to maintain high energy levels while controlling caloric intake. Fructans also increase calcium and mineral absorption and thereby reduce bone loss and improve bone density. Fructans also promote the reabsorption and re-use of female hormones, like estrogen, and have been shown to reduce tumor incidence, including from breast cancer. Fructans have also been shown to be particularly beneficial for: kidney health (through reducing blood nitrogen); joint care and arthritis; colonic health; sports nutrition; constipation; diarrhea; irritable bowel syndrome; reducing liver damage; immune stimulation; adult onset diabetes (type II) management; and prevention of vaginitis and other yeast infections.

Excellent Source of Soluble Fibre:

FOS is also an excellent source of dietary soluble fiber. In 1998, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the use of a health claim in the labeling of foods and dietary supplements containing soluble fibre. The health claim states that, “diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 7 grams of soluble fiber per day may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol”. Clinical studies have also shown significant benefits for soluble fibre in reducing high vascular tension in people having diets low in protein, fiber, or both. Soluble fibre and mucopolysaccharides also help the body to get rid of pathogenic gut bacteria and support beneficial intestinal microflora that are important for overall good health.


Fructo-oligo-saccharides, including inulin, are widespread carbohydrates belonging to a group of compounds known as fructans. Fructo-oligo-saccharides like inulin can range in complexity from 2 to 60 fructose-units all linked together. Fructans are produced naturally in over 36,000 plant species worldwide, including 1,200 grasses, and after starch, are the most plentiful carbohydrates occurring in nature. It has been estimated that as much as one third of the total vegetation on earth consists of plants that contain fructans.     

Suggested Amount:     

Drink one to several cups of FOS-rich tea per day such as from burdock root or take 1-2 tablespoons daily of pure FOS extracted from chicory roots.     

Drug Interactions:     

Soluble fibre may reduce the effectiveness of other medications and should be taken at a separate time of day from these. For persons taking medications, consult with your physician prior including sources of soluble fibre in your diet for guidance on when and when not to take the soluble fibre supplements.     


Soluble fibre may reduce the effectiveness of other medications and should not be taken at the same time as these. For persons taking medications, consult with your physician prior to including major sources of soluble fibre in your diet to receive guidance on when and when not to take the soluble fibre supplements.     

Side Effects:     

FOS products and foods and herbs with fructans may initially cause digestive upset for sensitive persons, including bloating and gas. This problem is said to be transitory, as your body gets used to the complex carbohydrates, and should not persist for more than approximately two weeks.     


Bliss DZ, Jung HJ, Savik K, Lowry A, LeMoine M, Jensen L, Werner C, Schaffer K. 2001. Supplementation with dietary fiber improves fecal incontinence. Nurs Res 2001 Jul-Aug; 50(4): 203-13.
Burke V, Hodgson JM, Beilin LJ, Giangiulioi N, Rogers P, Puddey IB. 2001. Dietary protein and soluble fiber reduce ambulatory blood pressure in treated hypertensives. Hypertension 2001 Oct; 38(4): 821-6.
Kajiwara S, Gandhi H, Ustunol Z. 2002. Effect of honey on the growth of and acid production by human intestinal Bifidobacterium spp.: an in vitro comparison with commercial oligosaccharides and inulin. J Food Prot 2002 Jan; 65(1): 214-8.
Lopez HW, Coudray C, Levrat-Verny M, Feillet-Coudray C, Demigne C, Remesy C. 2000. Fructooligosaccharides enhance mineral apparent absorption and counteract the deleterious effects of phytic acid on mineral homeostasis in rats. J Nutr Biochem. 2000 Oct; 11(10): 500-508.
Taper HS, Delzenne N, Tshilombo A, Roberfroid M. 1995. Protective effect of dietary fructo-oligosaccharide in young rats against exocrine pancreas atrophy induced by high fructose and partial copper deficiency. Food Chem Toxicol 1995 Aug; 33(8): 631-9.

Additional Information:      
Importance of Stable Blood Sugar:
One of the greatest addictions that people in our society currently have today is said by specialists to be sugar and simple carbohydrates! Sucrose, glucose and starch cause large fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin. One of the best ways to rapidly improve health is by staying away from foods that cause these fluctuations (i.e. refined white sugar and flour products). For example, white bread may cause a spike of blood sugar within twenty minutes of eating it, while whole wheat bread may take 40 minutes and whole grain bread may take 2 hours. With whole grain bread, the food stays with you much longer, taking 4 hours to digest completely which produces a nice, gradual change in blood sugar and insulin. Powdered inulin from chicory roots, burdock root, short chain FOS products and stevia leaves as alternative natural sweeteners can now be purchased in health food stores and can help to avoid these blood sugar fluctuations. Eating a more traditional diet based on the roots listed above is another great way to help the body. Drinking burdock root tea every day has been found to have a prolonged effect for keeping blood sugar balanced – even when glucose is taken in afterwards, so a little goes a long way. FOS also supports beneficial intestinal microflora that are absolutely essential for proper digestion and over-all health.
Lopez HW, Coudray C, Levrat-Verny M, Feillet-Coudray C, Demigne C, Remesy C. 2000. Fructooligosaccharides enhance mineral apparent absorption and counteract the deleterious effects of phytic acid on mineral homeostasis in rats. J Nutr Biochem. 2000 Oct; 11(10): 500-508.
Unite de Laboratoire pour l'Innovation dans les Cereales, Riom, France
Phytic acid (PA) and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) such as inulin are two food components that are able to modify mineral absorption negatively or positively. The influence of PA and FOS on the cecal and apparent mineral absorption as well as on the mineral status (plasma, hepatic, and bone) were investigated in four groups of rats fed one of the experimental diets: a fiber-free (FF) diet, a FF diet containing 7 g/kg PA (FF + PA), a diet containing 100 g/kg inulin (FOS), or a FOS diet containing 7 g/kg PA (FOS + PA). The cecal enlargement together with the acidification of cecal pH in rats adapted to FOS diets led to an improved Ca and Mg cecal absorption. Mineral apparent absorption was significantly enhanced by FOS ingestion (Ca, +20%; Mg, +50%; Fe, +23%; Cu, +45%), whereas PA decreased this factor only for trace elements (Fe, -48%; Zn, -62%; Cu, -31%). These inhibitory effects of a FF + PA diet have repercussions on blood (Mg, -15%; Fe, -12%; transferrin saturation -31%), liver (Mg, -18%; Fe, -42%; Zn, -25%), and bone (Zn, -25%) variables. However, the introduction of FOS into a PA diet counteracted these observed deleterious effects by stimulating bacterial hydrolysis of PA (+60% in rats adapted to FOS + PA compared to those fed the FF + PA diet) and by improving cecal absorption of minerals.
Taper HS, Delzenne N, Tshilombo A, Roberfroid M. 1995. Protective effect of dietary fructo-oligosaccharide in young rats against exocrine pancreas atrophy induced by high fructose and partial copper deficiency. Food Chem Toxicol 1995 Aug; 33(8): 631-9.
Department des Sciences Pharmaceutiques, Universite Catholique de Louvain, Brussels, Belgium.
The objective of this investigation was to protect rats against exocrine pancreatic atrophy by adding 22% fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS), a natural fructan obtained from inulin, to the 50% copper-deficient diets containing qualitatively and quantitatively different carbohydrates. Young male Wistar rats were maintained on these diets for 10 wk, being weighed weekly then killed and autopsied. Major organs were weighed and histologically examined. Copper content in the diets was measured by flame atomic absorption spectroscopy. Incomplete (50%) copper deficiency avoided precocious mortality due to cardiovascular lesions and enabled another pathological condition to develop, consisting of the induction of exocrine pancreas atrophy. Introduction of gradually increasing percentages of fructose in diets at the level of 22, 42 and 62% induced a gradual increase in the copper-deficiency-mediated pathology in rats, expressed by an increase in exocrine pancreatic atrophy. 22% FOS introduced to the diet prevented the pathology induced by both fructose and partial copper deficiency better than starch added to diet at the level of 20 or 40%.
Kajiwara S, Gandhi H, Ustunol Z. 2002. Effect of honey on the growth of and acid production by human intestinal Bifidobacterium spp.: an in vitro comparison with commercial oligosaccharides and inulin. J Food Prot 2002 Jan; 65(1): 214-8.
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824-1224, USA.
Five human intestinal Bifidobacterium spp., B. longum, B. adolescentis, B. breve, B. bifidum, and B. infantis, were cultured in reinforced clostridial medium (control) and in reinforced clostridial medium supplemented with 5% (wt/vol) honey, fructooligosaccharide (FOS), galactooligosaccharide (GOS), and inulin. Inoculated samples were incubated anaerobically at 37degrees C for 48 h. Samples were collected at 12-h intervals and examined for specific growth rate. Levels of fermentation end products (lactic and acetic acids) were measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography. Honey enhanced the growth of the five cultures much like FOS, GOS, and inulin did. Honey, FOS, GOS, and inulin were especially effective (P < 0.05) in sustaining the growth of these cultures after 24 h of incubation as compared with the control treatment. Overall, the effects of honey on lactic and acetic acid production by intestinal Bifidobacterium spp. were similar to those of FOS, GOS, and inulin.
 Eur J Clin Nutr 1999 Jan;53(1):1-7

Effect of nondigestible oligosaccharides on large-bowel functions, blood lipid concentrations and glucose absorption in young healthy male subjects.
van Dokkum W, Wezendonk B, Srikumar TS, van den Heuvel EG.
TNO Nutrition and Food Research Institute, Zeist, The Netherlands.
OBJECTIVE: To study the effect of the intake of 15 g nondigestible oligosaccharides per day on various parameters of large-bowel function, as well as on blood lipid concentrations and glucose absorption in man. DESIGN: Latin square, randomized, double-blind, diet-controlled. SETTING: Metabolic research unit. SUBJECTS: Twelve apparently healthy men (mean age 23 years), recruited from the Institute's pool of volunteers, no drop-outs. INTERVENTIONS: Four treatment periods of 3 weeks: inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and control; analyses of stool weight, intestinal transit, faecal pH, short-chain fatty acids, bile acids, faecal enzymes, blood lipids and glucose absorption. Results: As compared to the control treatment: higher concentration of faecal acetate (inulin and GOS, P < 0.05) and valerate (inulin, P < 0.05), significantly lower concentration of faecal deoxycholic acid (inulin and FOS, P < 0.05 and P< 0.02, respectively) and beta-glucuronidase activity (inulin and GOS, P < 0.05 and P < 0.02 respectively). Other changes of faecal parameters and those of blood lipids and glucose absorption were statistically not significant. CONCLUSIONS: Results indicate that nondigestible oligosaccharides are (partly) fermented in the human colon, but in healthy young men the effects are limited. Also the consumption of 15 g nondigestible oligosaccharides does not seem to alter blood lipid concentrations and glucose absorption in our young healthy adults.
 Food Chem Toxicol 2003 Jan;41(1):49-59

Toxicological profile of carboxymethyl inulin.
Johannsen FR.
Environmental, Safety and Health, Solutia, Inc., 575 Maryville Centre Drive, St. Louis, MO 63141, USA. frjoha@solutia.com
Carboxymethylinulin (CMI), formed by carboxylation of a natural carbohydrate obtained from the chicory plant, is particularly effective in sequestration of hard water cations, and thus serves as a unique anti-scalant which could find uses in food processing. A series of toxicological studies has been performed to investigate its toxiciologic properties following repeated exposure, possible sensitization, and its potential to elicit genotoxic activity; all studies conformed to internationally accepted safety test guidelines currently in force. Subacute (4-week) oral toxicity was investigated in groups of rats exposed via gavage to 0, 50, 150 and 1000 mg/kg/day CMI. No treatment-related effects were observed in body weight, food consumption, mortality, hematology, clinical blood chemistry, organ weights or gross or microscopic pathology up to the highest dose (1000 mg/kg/day) tested. Motor activity, as observed in a functional observation battery, was elevated in high-dose females, and is not considered of significance toxicologically. Lack of adverse toxicity seen with CMI at this dosage is consistent with a similar lack of significant toxicity exhibited by other dietary carbohydrates (sorbitol, sucrose, glucose), oligofructoses (inulin/FOS) and carboxylated cellulose in repeated-dose rat studies at approximately the same dosage. No evidence of dermal sensitization was observed in groups of guinea pigs following CMI testing by the Magnusson-Kligman maximization test methodology. No mutagenic activity was observed when CMI was tested in four Salmonella strains-TA1535, TA1537, TA98 and TA100-or in Escherichia coli WP2uvrA bacterial point mutation assays or in an in vitro Chinese hamster ovary cell chromosomal aberration assay. The results obtained in the present study with CMI are consistent with similar data derived on numerous dietary carbohydrate fibers generally recognized as safe in the human diet.

Eur J Clin Nutr 1996 Apr;50(4):269-73
Effects of Bifidobacterium sp fermented milk ingested with or without inulin on colonic bifidobacteria and enzymatic activities in healthy humans.
Bouhnik Y, Flourie B, Andrieux C, Bisetti N, Briet F, Rambaud JC.
INSERM U290, Fontions intestinales, metabolisme et nutrition, Hopital Saint-Lazare, Paris, France.
OBJECTIVE: To assess in healthy humans the effects of prolonged ingestion of Bifidobacterium sp fermented milk (BFM) with or without inulin on fecal bifidobacteria and some bacterial enzymatic activities. DESIGN: Twelve volunteers randomly divided into two groups were studied for three consecutive periods. During the ingestion period, they received BFM in association with ether 18g/d inulin or placebo in three oral doses for 12 days. Stools were regularly collected for bacteriological analysis. SETTING: Clinical Nutrition Unit, Hopital Saint-Lazare, Paris. RESULTS: The administration of BFM with placebo led to an increase in total bifidobacteria (indigenous and exogenous) (P < 0.01) and exogenous bifidobacteria (P < 0.01) and a decrease in beta-glucuronidase activity (P < 0.01). Simultaneous administration of BFM and inulin led to an increase in total bifidobacteria (P < 0.01) and exogenous bifidobacteria (P < 0.01), but had no effect on beta-glucuronidase activity. No differences were found for fecal concentrations reached by exogenous and indigenous bifidobacteria between the two groups. Administrated alone or with inulin, BFM did not change fecal total anaerobe counts, pH, nitrate reductase, nitroreductase and azoreductase activities. CONCLUSIONS: Administration of BFM substantially increases the proportion of bifidobacteria in the colonic flora, but the concurrent administration of inulin does not enhance this effect.

C R Seances Soc Biol Fil 1998;192(4):711-7

[Synthesis of novel fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) by enzymatic reaction] [Article in French]
Grizard D, Barthomeuf C.
Laboratoire de Pharmacognosie et de Biotechnologies, UFR de Pharmacie, Clermont-Ferrand, France.
Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) are new food ingredients that are able to beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of colonic bifidobacteria (concept of prebiotics). A commercial enzyme preparation was found to possess a high fructosyltransferase activity and could be used as a biocatalyst for the industrial production of FOS from sucrose. Under optimum conditions (pH: 5.5, temperature: 55 degrees C and 7 units of fructosyltransferase activity per gram sucrose), in presence of glucose (competitive inhibitor) the actual yield reached the theoretical value (up to 50%). Actually, FOS that are commercially available for their prebiotic properties belong to inulin type with low degree of polymerisation (DP:3 to 10). Our FOS were identified by both HPLC and 13C-NMR spectrometry as neo-FOS type (neo-kestose, neo-nystose and neo-fructofuranosylnystose), a new structure which is very close to inulin type (same linkage between fructosyl units). The neo-FOS may act as a prebiotic factor due to their structural similarity with inulin type.