Chitosan is a fibrous substance that might reduce how much fat and cholesterol the body absorbs from foods. It also helps blood clot when applied to wounds.
People use chitosan for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, wound healing, and many other purposes, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- High blood pressure. Replacing table salt with a table salt product that contains small amounts of chitosan (Symbiosal) might help lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
- Obesity. Taking chitosan by mouth while on a calorie-restricted diet can improve weight loss in people who are overweight or obese, but only by a very small amount.
- Recovery after surgery. Applying a chitosan gel might help prevent scar tissue from forming in the sinuses after surgery.
Special Precautions and Warnings
When applied to the skin: Chitosan is possibly safe when used short-term.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if chitosan is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Shellfish allergy: Chitosan is taken from the outer skeleton of shellfish. People with allergies to shellfish might also be allergic to chitosan.
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. This could increase the risk for bruising or bleeding.
Acyclovir (Zovirax) interacts with CHITOSAN
Taking chitosan with acyclovir might reduce the amount of acyclovir the body absorbs. This might reduce the effects of acyclovir.
Be cautious with this combination
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Kanauchi, O., Deuchi, K., Imasato, Y., Shizukuishi, M., and Kobayashi, E. Mechanism for the inhibition of fat digestion by chitosan and for the synergistic effect of ascorbate. Biosci.Biotechnol.Biochem 1995;59(5):786-790. View abstract.
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Koide, S. S. Chitin-chitosan: properties, benefits and risks. Nutrition Research 1998;8(6):1091-1101.
Macchi G. A new approach to the treatment of obesity: chitosan's effects on body weight reduction and plasma cholesterol levels. Acta Toxicol Ther 1996;17:303-320.
Maezaki Y, Tsuji K, Nakawa, and et al. Hypocholesterolaemic effect of chitosan in adult males. Biosc Biochem Biotech 1993;57:1439-1444.
Nelson, J. L., Alexander, J. W., Gianotti, L., Chalk, C. L., and Pyles, T. Influence of dietary fiber on microbial growth in vitro and bacterial translocation after burn injury in mice. Nutrition 1994;10(1):32-36. View abstract.
Petronio, M. G., Mansi, A., Gallinelli, C., Pisani, S., Seganti, L., and Chiarini, F. In vitro effect of natural and semi-synthetic carbohydrate polymers on Chlamydia trachomatis infection. Chemotherapy 1997;43(3):211-217. View abstract.
Sano H, Shibasaki K Kaneko K and et al. Inhibitory effect of chitosan rinsing on plaque formation. J-Dent-Res 1998;77(March Special Issue A: Abstracts of papers):138 (Abs No 260).
Sano, H., Shibasaki, K., Matsukubo, T., and Takaesu, Y. Effect of chitosan rinsing on reduction of dental plaque formation. Bull.Tokyo Dent.Coll. 2003;44(1):9-16. View abstract.
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Sciutto AM and Colombo P. Lipid-lowering effect of chitosan dietary integrator and hypocaloric diet in obese patients. Acta Toxicol Ther 1995;16:215-230.
Shibasaki, K., Sano, H., Matsukubo, T., and Takaesu, Y. pH response of human dental plaque to chewing gum supplemented with low molecular chitosan. Bull Tokyo Dent Coll 1994;35(2):61-66. View abstract.
Stone, C. A., Wright, H., Clarke, T., Powell, R., and Devaraj, V. S. Healing at skin graft donor sites dressed with chitosan. Br J Plast.Surg. 2000;53(7):601-606. View abstract.
Tarsi, R., Muzzarelli, R. A., Guzman, C. A., and Pruzzo, C. Inhibition of Streptococcus mutans adsorption to hydroxyapatite by low-molecular-weight chitosans. J Dent Res 1997;76(2):665-672. View abstract.
Tsai, G. J. and Su, W. H. Antibacterial activity of shrimp chitosan against Escherichia coli. J Food Prot. 1999;62(3):239-243. View abstract.
Veneroni G, Veneroni F, Contos S, and et al. Effect of new chitosan dietary integrator and hypocaloric diet on hyperlipidemia and overweight in obese patients. Acta Toxicol Ther 1996;17:53-70.
Wuolijoki, E., Hirvela, T., and Ylitalo, P. Decrease in serum LDL cholesterol with microcrystalline chitosan. Methods Find.Exp Clin Pharmacol. 1999;21(5):357-361. View abstract.
Akizawa T, Tsuruta Y, Okada Y, et al. Effect of chitosan chewing gum on reducing serum phosphorus in hemodialysis patients: a multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. BMC Nephrol 2014;15:98. View abstract.
Allaert FA. Double-blind, randomized, crossover, controlled clinical trial of NaCl + Chitosan 3% versus NaCl on mild or moderate high blood pressure during the diet and lifestyle improvement period before possible prescription of an antihypertensive treatment. Int Angiol. 2013;32(1):94-101. View abstract.
Allaert FA. Effect of NaCl + Chitosan 3% vs. NaCl on high blood pressure parameters of healthy volunteers with prehypertension. Minerva Cardioangiol. 2017;65(6):563-576. View abstract.
Azad AK, Sermsintham N, Chandrkrachang S, Stevens WF. Chitosan membrane as a wound-healing dressing: characterization and clinical application. J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater. 2004;69(2):216-22. View abstract.
Biagini G, Bertani A, Muzzarelli R, et al. Wound management with N-carboxybutyl chitosan. Biomaterials 1991;12:281-6. View abstract.
Bokura H, Kobayashi S. Chitosan decreases total cholesterol in women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr 2003;57:721-5. View abstract.
Cheung RC, Ng TB, Wong JH, Chan WY. Chitosan: an update on potential biomedical and pharmaceutical applications. Mar Drugs 2015;13(8):5156-86. View abstract.
Colombo P, Sciutto AM. Nutritional aspects of chitosan employment in hypocaloric diet. Acta Toxicol Therap 1996;17:287-302.
Dilokhuttakarn T, Vilai P, Rungsinaporn V. The efficacy of chitosan dressing in reducing blood loss for harvest site in split thickness skin graft: A randomized control trial. J Med Assoc Thai. 2016;99 Suppl 8:S19-S24. View abstract.
Gades MD, Stern JS. Chitosan supplementation and fat absorption in men and women. J Am Diet Assoc 2005;105:72-7. View abstract.
Gades MD, Stern JS. Chitosan supplementation does not affect fat absorption in healthy males fed a high-fat diet, a pilot study. Int J Obes 2002;26:119-22.. View abstract.
Gallaher DD, Gallaher CM, Mahrt GJ, et al. A glucomannan and chitosan fiber supplement decreases plasma cholesterol and increases cholesterol excretion in overweight normocholesterolemic humans. J Am Coll Nutr 2002;21:428-33. View abstract.
Giustina A, Ventura P. Weight-reducing regimens in obese subjects: effects of a new dietary fiber integrator. Acta Toxicol Ther 1995;16:199-214.
Guerciolini R, Radu-Radulescu L, Boldrin M, et al. Comparative evaluation of fecal fat excretion induced by orlistat and chitosan. Obes Res 2001;9:364-7.. View abstract.
Hayashi Y, Ohara N, Ganno T, et al. Chewing chitosan-containing gum effectively inhibits the growth of cariogenic bacteria. Arch Oral Biol 2007;52:290-4. View abstract.
Hernández-González SO, González-Ortiz M, Martínez-Abundis E, Robles-Cervantes JA. Chitosan improves insulin sensitivity as determined by the euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp technique in obese subjects. Nutr Res. 2010;30(6):392-5. View abstract.
Ho SC, Tai ES, Eng PH, et al. In the absence of dietary surveillance, chitosan does not reduce plasma lipids or obesity in hypercholesterolaemic obese Asian subjects. Singapore Med J 2001;42:6-10. View abstract.
Huang SS, Sung SH, Chiang CE. Chitosan potentiation of warfarin effect. Ann Pharmacother 2007;41:1912-4. View abstract.
Jing SB, Li L, Ji D, et al. Effect of chitosan on renal function in patients with chronic renal failure. J Pharm Pharmacol 1997;49:721-3. View abstract.
Jull AB, Ni Mhurchu C, Bennett DA, et al. Chitosan for overweight or obesity. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2008;(3):CD003892. View abstract.
Kubbinga M, Nguyen MA, Staubach P, et al. The influence of chitosan on the oral bioavailability of acyclovir-a comparative bioavailability study in humans. Pharm Res 2015;32(7):2241-9. View abstract.
Macchi G. A new approach to the treatment of obesity: Chitosan's effects on body weight reduction and plasma cholesterol levels. Acta Toxicol Ther 1996;17:303-20.
Madrazo-Jiménez M, Rodríguez-Caballero Á, Serrera-Figallo MÁ, et al. The effects of a topical gel containing chitosan, 0,2% chlorhexidine, allantoin and despanthenol on the wound healing process subsequent to impacted lower third molar extraction. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal. 2016;21(6):e696-e702. View abstract.
Metso S, Ylitalo R, Nikkila M, Wuolijoki E, et al. The effect of long-term microcrystalline chitosan therapy on plasma lipids and glucose concentrations in subjects with increased plasma total cholesterol: a randomised placebo-controlled double-blind crossover trial in healthy men and women. Eur J Clin Pharmacol 2003;59:741-6. View abstract.
Mhurchu CN, Poppitt SD, McGill AT, et al. The effect of the dietary supplement, Chitosan, on body weight: a randomised controlled trial in 250 overweight and obese adults. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 2004;28:1149-56. View abstract.
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Muzzarelli R, Biagini G, Pugnaloni A, et al. Reconstruction of parodontal tissue with chitosan. Biomaterials 1989;10:598-603. View abstract.
Muzzarelli R, Tarsi R, Fillippini O, et al. Antimicrobial properties of N-carboxybutyl chitosan. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1990;34:2019-23. View abstract.
Muzzarelli RA, Biagini G, Bellardini, et al. Osteoconduction exerted by methylpyrrolidinone chitosan used in dental surgery. Biomaterials 1993;14:39-43. View abstract.
Ni Mhurchu C, Dunshea-Mooij C, Bennett D, Rodgers A. Chitosan for overweight or obesity. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005;(3):CD003892. View abstract.
Novak K, Cupp MJ, Tracy TS. Chapter 2: Chitosan. In: Dietary Supplements - Toxicology and Clinical Pharmacology. Cupp MJ, Tracy TS (Eds). Springer-Verlag New York, LLC. 2003:33-39.
Pittler MH, Abbot NC, Harkness EF, Ernst E. Randomized, double-blind trial of chitosan for body weight reduction. Eur J Clin Nutr 1999;53:379-81. View abstract.
Rao SB, Sharma CP. Use of chitosan as a biomaterial: studies on its safety and hemostatic potential. J Biomed Mater Res 1997;34:21-28. View abstract.
Savica V, Calo LA, Mondardo P, et al. Salivary phosphate-binding chewing gum reduces hyperphosphatemia in dialysis patients. J Am Soc Nephrol 2009;20(3):639-44. View abstract.
Schmidl D, Werkmeister R, Kaya S, et al. A Controlled, Randomized Double-Blind Study to Evaluate the Safety and Efficacy of Chitosan-N-Acetylcysteine for the Treatment of Dry Eye Syndrome. J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2017;33(5):375-382. View abstract.
Sciutto AM, Colombo P. Lipid-lowering effect of Chitosan dietary integrator and hypocaloric diet in obese subjects. Acta Toxicol Ther 1995;16:215-29.
Shields KM, Smock N, McQueen CE, Bryant PJ. Chitosan for weight loss and cholesterol management. Am J Health Syst Pharm 2003;60:1310-2, 1315-6. View abstract.
Spigoni V, Aldigeri R, Antonini M, et al. Effects of a new nutraceutical formulation (berberine, red yeast rice and chitosan) on non-HDL cholesterol levels in individuals with dyslipidemia: Results from a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;18(7). pii: E1498. View abstract.
Tai TS, Sheu WH, Lee WJ, et al. Effect of chitosan on plasma lipoprotein concentrations in type 2 diabetic subjects with hypercholesterolemia. Diabetes Care 2000;23:1703-4. View abstract.
Thanou M, Verhoef JC, Junginger HE. Oral drug absorption enhancement by chitosan and its derivatives. Adv Drug Deliv Rev 2001;52:117-26.. View abstract.
Totsuka Sutto SE, Rodríguez Roldan YI, Cardona Muñoz EG, et al. Efficacy and safety of the combination of isosorbide dinitrate spray and chitosan gel for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers: A double-blind, randomized, clinical trial. Diab Vasc Dis Res. 2018;15(4):348-351. View abstract.
Tsujikawa T, Kanauchi O, Andoh A, et al. Supplement of a Chitosan and ascorbic acid mixture for Crohn's disease. A pilot study. Nutrition 2003;19:137-9.. View abstract.
Ueno H, Mori T, Fujinaga T. Topical formulations and wound healing applications of chitosan. Adv Drug Deliv Rev 2001;52:105-15.. View abstract.
Valentine R, Athanasiadis T, Moratti S, Hanton L, Robinson S, Wormald PJ. The efficacy of a novel chitosan gel on hemostasis and wound healing after endoscopic sinus surgery. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2010;24(1):70-5. View abstract.
Veneroni G, Veneroni F, Contos S, et al. Effect of a new chitosan dietary integrator and hypocaloric diet on hyperlipidemia and overweight in obese patients. Acta Toxicol Ther 1996;17:53-70.
Vilasan A, Venkatesh PML, Varadhan KB, George JP, Dubey A. Comparative evaluation of chitosan chlorhexidine mouthwash in plaque control: a preliminary randomized controlled clinical trial. J Int Acad Periodontol 2020;22(3):166-73. View abstract.
Wuolijoki E, Hirvela T, Ylitalo P. Decrease in serum LDL cholesterol with microcrystalline chitosan. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 1999;21:357-61.
Ylitalo R, Lehtinen S, Wuolijoki E, et al. Cholesterol-lowering properties and safety of chitosan. Arzneimittelforschung 2002;52:1-7.. View abstract.
Zhou JC, Zhang JJ, Zhang W, Ke ZY, Zhang B. Efficacy of chitosan dressing on endoscopic sinus surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2017;274(9):3269-3274. View abstract.
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