Chitosan is used for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, wound healing, and other conditions, but there is little scientific evidence to support many of its uses.
In pharmaceutical manufacturing, chitosan is used as a filler in tablets, to improve the way certain drugs dissolve, and to mask bitter tastes. It is also used to help make foods last longer.
How does it work ?
Uses & Effectiveness ?
Possibly Effective for
- High blood pressure. People with slightly high blood pressure are often told to reduce their intake of table salt. Early research shows that replacing table salt with a table salt product that contains small amounts of chitosan (Symbiosal) can decrease blood pressure more than just reducing table salt intake.
- Recovery after surgery. Scar tissue can sometimes form in the sinuses after surgery. Early research shows that using a chitosan gel can prevent the scar tissue from attaching. However, the chitosan gel doesn't seem to reduce swelling or infections.
Insufficient Evidence for
- Minor bleeding. Early research shows that using a gel made with chitosan can help bleeding to stop after sinus surgery. This gel works within 2 minutes. But not all research agrees.
- A type of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn disease). Early research shows that taking a combination of chitosan and ascorbic acid by mouth might help people with Crohn disease.
- Cavities. Chewing gum containing chitosan or using a mouthwash containing chitosan might decrease the number of cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. However, there is no reliable data that these products actually prevent cavities.
- Tooth plaque. Early research shows that rinsing with a chitosan mouth wash for 2 weeks helps to stop plaque from forming on the teeth.
- Foot sores in people with diabetes.Early research shows that applying chitosan gel to foot sores does not help them to heal faster.
- Dry eye. Early research shows that using eye drops containing chitosan helps to make the eyes feel less dry in people who normally have dry eyes.
- High cholesterol. It is not clear if chitosan can help to lower cholesterol levels. Some research shows that taking chitosan does not lower total cholesterol or "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) in people with high cholesterol. But other research shows that chitosan lowers cholesterol in people with or without high cholesterol. Some combination products containing chitosan also seem to lower cholesterol levels in obese people with or without high cholesterol.
- High levels of phosphate in the blood (hyperphosphatemia). It's unclear if chewing gum containing chitosan can help lower phosphorus levels in people on hemodialysis. Research results are conflicting. More research is needed.
- Obesity. Overall, research shows that taking chitosan improves weight loss by only a very small amount. When taken for up to one year, it might only result in weight loss of about 1 kg (2 pounds).
- A serious gum infection (periodontitis). Some early research shows that applying chitosan ascorbate directly to the gums might help treat gum disease.
- Plastic surgery. Early research shows that applying a specific form of chitosan directly to a surgery site helps the wound to heal and reduces scar formation after plastic surgery.
- Kidney failure. Early research shows 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 that are on hemodialysis.
- Wound healing. Early research shows that applying chitosan to skin grafts might improve wound healing and help nerves to grow back. Also, using a gel that contains chitosan and other ingredients might increase healing after getting teeth pulled.
- Other conditions.
When applied to the skin: Chitosan is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when applied to the skin for a short time. Chitosan can cause irritation.
Special Precautions and Warnings
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.
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.
Be cautious with this combination
- For high blood pressure: Up to 3 grams daily of a table salt product containing chitosan (Symbiosal) has been used instead of regular table salt.
- For recovery after surgery: Chitosan gel has been applied by a healthcare professional into the sinuses for ten minutes following sinus surgery.
Joshi P, Dhawan V. Swertia chirayita - an overview. CURRENT SCIENCE 8-25-2005;89(4):635-640.
Karan, M., Vasisht, K., and Handa, S. S. Antihepatotoxic activity of Swertia chirata on carbon tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Phytother.Res. 1999;13(1):24-30. View abstract.
Karan, M., Vasisht, K., and Handa, S. S. Antihepatotoxic activity of Swertia chirata on paracetamol and galactosamine induced hepatotoxicity in rats. Phytother.Res. 1999;13(2):95-101. View abstract.
Khanom, F., Kayahara, H., and Tadasa, K. Tyrosinase inhibitory activity of Bangladeshi indigenous medicinal plants. Biosci.Biotechnol.Biochem. 2000;64(9):1967-1969. View abstract.
Madhuri S, Pandey G. Some dietary agricultural plants with anticancer properties. PLANT ARCHIVES 2008;8(1):13-16.
Manjunath KP, Shivakumar H Prakash T Patil KS Rao RN et al. Anthelmintic activity of roots of <it>Swertia chirata</it>. Indian Journal of Natural Products 2006;22:8-10.
Medda, S., Mukhopadhyay, S., and Basu, M. K. Evaluation of the in-vivo activity and toxicity of amarogentin, an antileishmanial agent, in both liposomal and niosomal forms. J.Antimicrob.Chemother. 1999;44(6):791-794. View abstract.
Deuchi, K., Kanauchi, O., Shizukuishi, M., and Kobayashi, E. Continuous and massive intake of chitosan affects mineral and fat- soluble vitamin status in rats fed on a high-fat diet. Biosci Biotechnol.Biochem 1995;59(7):1211-1216. View abstract.
Ernst E and Pitter MH. Chitosan as a treatment for body weight reduction? A meta-analysis. Perfusion 1998;11(11):461-465.
Girola M, De Bernardi M, and Contos S, et al. Dose effect in lipid-lowering activity of a new dietary integrator (chitosan, Garcinia cambogia extract, and chrome). Acta Toxicol Ther 1996;17:25-40.
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.
Kind, G. M., Bines, S. D., Staren, E. D., Templeton, A. J., and Economou, S. G. Chitosan: evaluation of a new hemostatic agent. Curr Surg. 1990;47(1):37-39. View abstract.
Koide, S. S. Chitin-chitosan: properties, benefits and risks. Nutrition Research 1998;8(6):1091-1101.
LeHoux, J. G. and Grondin, F. Some effects of chitosan on liver function in the rat. Endocrinology 1993;132(3):1078-1084. 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;17:303-320.
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.
Schiller RN, Barrager E, Schauss EA, and 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(1):42-49.
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.
Tanaka, Y., Tanioka, S., Tanaka, M., Tanigawa, T., Kitamura, Y., Minami, S., Okamoto, Y., Miyashita, M., and Nanno, M. Effects of chitin and chitosan particles on BALB/c mice by oral and parenteral administration. Biomaterials 1997;18(8):591-595. 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.
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.
Moraru C, Mincea MM, Frandes M, Timar B, Ostafe V. A meta-analysis on randomised controlled clinical trials evaluating the effect of the dietary supplement chitosan on weight loss, lipid parameters and blood pressure. Medicina (Kaunas). 2018;54(6):109. View abstract.
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.
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.
You Might Also Like
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 2020.