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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

Chitosan Usage

Written by FoundHealth.

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Therapeutic Uses

On the basis of chitosan's supposed ability to bind fat in the intestines, it has been tried as a treatment for high cholesterol . However, the evidence regarding whether it really works is generally more negative than positive. 1 At best, chitosan appears to offer no more than minimal benefit for high cholesterol.

Chitosan has also been proposed as a weight loss treatment on the same principle. 2 However, despite some mildly positive results, the current balance of evidence suggests chitosan does notin fact significantly aid weight loss. 3 Weak evidence hints that chitosan may be helpful in kidney failure. 4 When used for this purpose, it is thought to work by binding with toxins in the digestive tract and causing them to be excreted.

Studies in dogs have found that topically applied chitosan can help heal wounds . 5 This effect might be due to stimulation of new tissue growth; in addition, topical chitosan appears to kill bacteria such as Streptococcus, which may also contribute to wound healing. 6 Chitosan may also have activity against Candida albicans , a form of yeast that causes vaginal infections .

Highly preliminary evidence suggests that oral chitosan may inhibit the expected rise in blood pressure after a high-salt meal. 7 Other weak evidence hints that chitosan chewing gum might help prevent cavities . 8 It has been suggested that chitosan can stimulate the immune system and prevent cancer , 9 but there is no reliable evidence as yet that it offers these benefits.

Animal studies suggest that some forms of chitosan may help to prevent bone loss; 10 however, because chitosan also interferes with mineral absorption, the net effect in humans might actually be to increase bone loss (see Safety Issues below).


  1. Tai TS, Sheu WH, Lee WJ, et al. Effect of chitosan on plasma lipoprotein concentrations in type 2 diabetic subjects with hypercholesterolemia [letter]. Diabetes Care. 2000;23:1703-1704.
  2. Deuchi K, Kanauchi O, Imasato Y, et al. Decreasing effect of chitosan on the apparent fat digestibility by rats fed on a high-fat diet. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 1994;58:1613-1616.
  3. Schiller RN, Barrager E, Schauss AG, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study examining the effects of a rapidly soluble chitosan dietary supplement on weight loss and body composition in overweight and mildly obese individuals. J Am Nutraceutical Assoc. 2001;4:42-49.
  4. Jing SB, Li L, Ji D, Takiguchi Y, Yamaguchi T. Effect of chitosan on renal function in patients with chronic renal failure. J Pharm Pharmacol. 49(7):721-3.
  5. Koide SS. Chitin-chitosan: properties, benefits and risks. Nutr Res. 1998;18:1091-1101.
  6. Koide SS. Chitin-chitosan: properties, benefits and risks. Nutr Res. 1998;18:1091-1101.
  7. Kato H, Taguchi T, Okuda H, et al. Antihypertensive effect of chitosan in rats and humans. J Tradit Med. 1994;11:198-205.
  8. Hayashi Y, Ohara N, Ganno T, Yamaguchi K, Ishizaki T, Nakamura T, Sato M. Chewing chitosan-containing gum effectively inhibits the growth of cariogenic bacteria. Arch Oral Biol. 52(3):290-4.
  9. Koide SS. Chitin-chitosan: properties, benefits and risks. Nutr Res. 1998;18:1091-1101.
  10. Li H, Miyahara T, Tezuka Y, et al. The effect of low molecular weight chitosan on bone resorption in vitro and in vivo. Phytomedicine. 1999;6:305-310.


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