Xylitol is a 5-carbon sugar alcohol that has been shown to prevent caries when incorporated into chewing gum and reduce the incidence of acute otitis media when incorporated into lozenges, syrup, or gum. Does xylitol incorporated into a nasal spray help prevent bacterial upper respiratory infections?

Xylitol “starves” bacteria through its antiadhesive effects, and “when bacteria can’t adhere to tissue in the nose, you’re not going to get sick,” says Nathan Jones, Founder and CEO of Xlear, which makes xylitol products. Xylitol nasal spray is a hyperosmotic solution that draws moisture out of the nasal tissue into the airway surface liquid. This action enhances the nasal cavity’s natural filtering and cleansing mechanisms, washing away bacteria, viruses, dander, and pollutants.


Zabner J, Seiler MP, Launspach JL, et al. The osmolyte xylitol reduces the salt concentration of airway surface liquid and may enhance bacterial killing. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2000; 97: 11614-11619.