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.
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