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 dialysisoften 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.


  • 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 bymouth 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.
  • Crohn’s disease (an intestinal disorder). Early research shows that taking a combination of chitosan and ascorbic acid by mouth might help people withCrohn’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 totalcholesterol 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 reducecholesterol 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 toskin grafts might improve wound healing and help nerves regrow.
  • Other conditions.

Source :

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