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CHITOSAN

Other Names:

Ascorbate de Chitosane, Chitosan Ascorbate, Chitosane, Chitosane Déacétylé, Chitosane Mono-Carboxyméthylé, Deacetylated Chitosan, Enzymatic Polychitosamine Hydrolisat, HEP-30, Hydrolisat Enzymatique de Polychitosamine, Mono-Carboxymethylated Chi...
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chitosan Overview
chitosan Uses
chitosan Side Effects
chitosan Interactions
chitosan Dosing
chitosan Overview Information

Chitosan is a sugar that is obtained from the hard outer skeleton of shellfish, including crab, lobster, and shrimp. It is used for medicine.

Chitosan is used to treat obesity, high cholesterol, and Crohn’s disease. It is also used to treat complications that kidney failure patients on dialysis often face, including high cholesterol, “tired blood” (anemia), loss of strength and appetite, and trouble sleeping (insomnia).

Some people apply chitosan directly to their gums to treat inflammation that can lead to tooth loss (periodontitis), or chew gum that contains chitosan to prevent “cavities” (dental caries).

In an effort to help “donor tissue” rebuild itself, plastic surgeons sometimes apply chitosan directly to places from which they have taken tissue to be used elsewhere.

In pharmaceutical manufacturing, chitosan is used as a filler in tablets; as a carrier in controlled-release drugs; to improve the way certain drugs dissolve; and to mask bitter tastes in solutions taken by mouth.

How does it work?

Chitosan is extracted from the shells of shrimp, lobster, and crabs. It is a fibrous substance that might block absorption of dietary fat and cholesterol.

chitosan Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Possibly Effective for:

  • Gum disease (periodontitis). Some research suggests that applying chitosan ascorbate directly to the gums seems to help in the treatment of periodontitis.
  • Plastic surgery. Some research suggests that applying N-carboxybutyl chitosan directly to the affected area seems to help wound healing and reduce scar formation after plastic surgery.
  • Kidney failure. Some research suggests that taking chitosan by mouth may reduce high cholesterol, help to correct anemia, and improve physical strength, appetite, and sleep in people with kidney failure who are receiving long-term hemodialysis.

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • Crohn's disease (an intestinal disorder). Early research shows that taking a combination of chitosan and ascorbic acid by mouth might help people with Crohn's disease.
  • Dental cavities. There is some evidence that a chewing gum containing chitosan or using a mouthwash containing chitosan can decrease the number of cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. However, there is no reliable evidence that these products actually prevent cavities.
  • Dental plaque. Early research suggests that rinsing with a chitosan mouth wash for 2 weeks reduces formation of plaque.
  • High cholesterol. There is conflicting evidence about the effectiveness of chitosan for lowering cholesterol. Some research shows that taking chitosan does not seem to significantly decrease total cholesterol or “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in people with high cholesterol. However, other research shows that chitosan seems to lower cholesterol in people with or without high cholesterol. Also, some combination products containing chitosan also seem to reduce cholesterol levels in obese people with or without high cholesterol. Those combination products include: a supplement containing chitosan, garcinia, and chromium and another supplement containing chitosan, guar meal, ascorbic acid, and other micronutrients.
  • Weight loss. There is conflicting evidence about the effectiveness of chitosan for weight loss. Some research suggests that combining chitosan with a calorie-restricted diet might result in a small amount of weight loss. But taking chitosan, without cutting calories, doesn’t seem to cause weight loss.
    Many studies on chitosan have design flaws that make their results questionable. When only the higher quality studies are analyzed, the effect of chitosan on weight loss is minimal, only about 0.5 kg (about 1.1 pounds) when taken for 1-6 months. This may not make much difference to health.
  • Wound healing. Early research suggests that applying chitosan to skin grafts might improve wound healing and help nerves regrow.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of chitosan for these uses.


chitosan Side Effects & Safety

Chitosan is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth for up to six months or when applied to the skin. When taken by mouth, chitosan might cause mild stomach upset, constipation, or gas.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking chitosan by mouth if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Shellfish allergy: Chitosan is taken from the outer skeleton of shellfish. There is a concern that people with allergies to shellfish might also be allergic to chitosan. However, people who are allergic to shellfish are allergic to the meat, not the shell. So some experts believe that chitosan may not be a problem for people with shellfish allergy.

chitosan Interactions What is this?

Moderate Interaction Be cautious with this combination

  • Warfarin (Coumadin) interacts with CHITOSAN

    Warfarin is a blood thinner. There is some concern that taking chitosan might increase the blood thinning effects of warfarin (Coumadin). Taking chitosan with warfarin (Coumadin) could increase the chance of bruising or bleeding. If you take warfarin, avoid taking chitosan.


chitosan Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:

  • For reducing high cholesterol and improving anemia, physical strength, appetite, and sleep in people with renal failure who are undergoing hemodialysis: 1.35 grams of chitosan three times daily.

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Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

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