Polysaccharides (Carbohydrates) or natural gums are found in woody parts of plants or seeds coatings. These gums are harvested as a result of a pathological response due to the injury of a tree. This injury can be caused as natural as insect activity, or as manipulated as tree boring. Marine and non-marine botanical sources of natural gums exist. Properties of gums vary. For instance, some are water soluble, and others absorb water causing them to swell. All gums, though, are insoluble in oils or organic solvents. Also, natural gums represent uncharged and ionic polymers (polyelectrolytes).
Gums are known to increase a solution’s viscosity substantially - even in small amounts. Therefore, in the food industry, these carbohydrates are useful as thickening, gelling, emulsifying, suspension and stabilizing agents. In the pharmaceutical industry, the uses include binding agents in tablets, and suspending or emulsifying agents in creams and lotions. Other sectors use natural gums in adhesives and as binding, swelling and clarifying agents.