Chitosan is a shellfish-derived natural glucosamine polymer. It helps people lose weight, decrease cholesterol, and improve their skin’s health, among other things. A recent study questions some of these applications, but it also opens the door to new possibilities in skincare, medicine, and technology.
Obesity is becoming more common in people of all ages and ethnic backgrounds. Combined with the public’s need for a quick “cure,” these figures have resulted in a burgeoning industry for nutritional supplements marketed as weight-loss aids. 
In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of chitosan for weight loss and more, including cholesterol and kidney disease.
What is Chitosan?
Chitin is a biodegradable fiber that comes primarily from shrimp and other shellfish outer shells. It’s also present in insect and fungus skeletons. Because of its remarkable resilience and toughness, some people refer to chitin as “nature’s armor.”
Chitin has several other forms, which include:
- Chitosan: a kind of chitin that is in pills, hydrogels, nanoparticles, and bandages.
- Chitosan oligosaccharide: a kind of chitosan.
It is chitin that has been treated. Chitin is made up of N-acetylglucosamine chains that are rigid and insoluble. On the other hand, it is more soluble and primarily contains glucosamine chains.
According to several studies, ingesting it while on a weight-loss program enhances weight loss. On the other hand, it was ineffective in further investigations.
It’s worth noting that taking chitosan supplements will cause the body to excrete fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
What is it Used For?
Some people use chitosan for weight loss and cholesterol management. It is famous as a “fat blocker” or “fat trapper” over the counter.
According to the claims, the pill may minimize the amount of fat absorbed in your gastrointestinal tract.
Moreover, the Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning regarding such claims. It claims that there is no scientific evidence that can prove this claim. According to a review of high-quality trials, overweight adults who took chitosan did not shed large amounts of weight.
It has also been studied to see if it can help lower cholesterol levels. It also lowers total cholesterol and LDL “bad” cholesterol in recent well-designed studies. However, some research has shown contradictory results, which indicates that more research is required.
Various types of chitosan may also aid:
- Crohn’s disease: a chronic inflammatory bowel illness. 
- Cavities in the teeth.
- Dialysis-induced anemia in persons with renal failure. 
- Those who have donor tissue plastic surgery. 
More research into the effects of it on these claims is essential.
Does it Work for Weight Loss?
Researchers compared the weight loss results of participants who took chitosan pills to those who took a placebo. When combined with a calorie-restricted diet and physical activity, the results showed that chitosan supplementation lowered body weight and BMI.
These findings back an earlier study that found chitosan pills to be more successful than a placebo in treating obesity in a short-term treatment plan. This is why chitosan supplement labels advise people to take it right before a meal.
However, the current evidence doesn’t support these claims.
What are the Benefits of Chitosan Supplements?
Supplements that contain chitosan are frequently advertised as fat-blockers.
It also claims to work in the stomach by turning it into a gel. Some believe that the gel clings to fat and cholesterol from the stomach to the intestines.
Also, it is thought to aid weight loss and reduce cholesterol by removing fat and cholesterol from the body rather than absorbing them. Some of its benefits are:
1. Reduce Cholesterol Level
Studies have shown chitosan to be slightly beneficial at lowering cholesterol levels. More outstanding research is necessary, and several other natural cholesterol reducers have more evidence to back them up.
2. Remove Heavy Metals & Binding Toxins
It may bind to poisons and aid in their removal. Similar advantages from supplements are possible because it removes bacteria (such as E.coli) and heavy metals from water. Regardless, its effects on toxin clearance in humans have yet to look into.
It also prevented the accumulation of a dangerous heavy metal called cadmium in rats. It lowers cadmium levels and protects the body from harm.
3. Reduce Symptoms of Kidney Disease
Chitosan supplements may benefit persons with renal illness or failure. However, research on the subject is not enough.
After 12 weeks, chitosan given to 40 persons with kidney failure increased their strength, appetite, and sleep. It also boosted hemoglobin while lowering blood creatinine and urea levels, suggesting that it could help with renal function.
4. Reduce Fatigue
In sleep-deprived rats, chitosan oligosaccharides reduced weariness. It also reduced other fatigue-related side effects like weight loss and immobility.
In addition, it reduced high levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Types of Chitosan Supplements
Chitosan supplements are available in various formats, including capsules, powders, gels, and bandages. Here’s a quick rundown of all the formulas.
Oral supplements that contain chitosan are often made from shellfish-derived powder and packaged in vegetable caps. The dosage ranges from 700 mg to 1,800 mg per serving.
It is also available as a liquid oral spray, crushed pills, or loose powder from some sources (you can even pack it into veggie capsules yourself).
All of them are available as chitin, chitosan, chitosan oligosaccharide, or a mixture of the three. Chitosan oligosaccharide has higher water solubility than chitin or chitosan. 
On the market, chitosan bandages are great for stopping bleeding quickly while it also provides antibacterial protection.
Gauze pads, emergency compression bandages, wound dressings, and liquid bandages in a spray bottle are all examples of bandages (primarily for veterinary use).
When it comes to selecting a bandage, there are a few factors to consider. When used to accelerate blood clotting, some applications “gel up.” The highest-quality bandages on the market which is made up entirely of chitosan, while others have added chitosan fibers.
A chitosan bandage can range from $8 to $35 or more for high-quality wound dressing rolls. A box of 50 chitosan gelling bandages costs around $56.
Chitosan gels and sprays are sold for a wide range of uses.
Nasal sprays reduce dryness and sinus inflammation, while gels are designed to expedite wound healing. It is also for in skincare moisturizers containing collagen to help with anti-aging.
Dosage Of Chitosan Supplements
The doses shown below may or may not apply to you. If your doctor recommends taking a grape seed extract supplement, work with them to determine the best dosage for you based on your health and other considerations.
In clinical trials, the most frequent dosage for decreasing cholesterol and promoting weight loss was 2.4 g/day.
Chitosan Precautions & Side Effects
The FDA classifies chitosan as GRAS, which means that it is “generally regarded as safe.”
To be safe, anyone with shellfish sensitivity should avoid chitosan supplements. Chitosan is highly safe in animal experiments. Only a few clinical trials, however, have been conducted.
Chitosan supplements may produce minor nausea and constipation and a decrease in mineral absorption and bone mineral content. Children appear to be safe when using chitosan bandages for bleeding control.
Due to a lack of safety evidence, children and pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid chitosan tablets.
Supplement-drug interactions can be severe, even life-threatening in some situations. Always talk to your doctor before augmenting, and make sure they know any medications or supplements you’re taking or considering.
Some medications may be less effective as a result of chitosan. Interactions such as these are possible:
- Fat-soluble medications, such as birth control pills, have a lower absorption rate.
- Reduced vitamin K levels and increased warfarin (Coumadin) blood-thinning effects could lead to severe bruising and bleeding.
- Acyclovir, an antiviral medication, has a lower absorption rate. 
The Bottomline: Benefits And Risks Of Chitosan
Studies have found that dietary supplements like chitosan do not result in dramatic weight loss. The FDA does not control supplements because they are classified as food rather than pharmaceuticals in the United States.
Weight loss supplements have been reported in the past to create health problems in people who take them, and they’re not a substitute for other established weight loss measures like diet, exercise, FDA-approved medicine, or weight loss surgery.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
- Shields, K. M., Smock, N., McQueen, C. E., & Bryant, P. J. (2003). Chitosan for weight loss and cholesterol management. American journal of health-system pharmacy : AJHP : official journal of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, 60(13), 1310–1316. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajhp/60.13.1310
- Yousef, M., Pichyangkura, R., Soodvilai, S., Chatsudthipong, V., & Muanprasat, C. (2012). Chitosan oligosaccharide as potential therapy of inflammatory bowel disease: therapeutic efficacy and possible mechanisms of action. Pharmacological research, 66(1), 66–79. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2012.03.013
- Anraku, M., Tanaka, M., Hiraga, A., Nagumo, K., Imafuku, T., Maezaki, Y., Iohara, D., Uekama, K., Watanabe, H., Hirayama, F., Maruyama, T., & Otagiri, M. (2014). Effects of chitosan on oxidative stress and related factors in hemodialysis patients. Carbohydrate polymers, 112, 152–157. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.carbpol.2014.05.078
- Stone, C. A., Wright, H., Clarke, T., Powell, R., & Devaraj, V. S. (2000). Healing at skin graft donor sites dressed with chitosan. British journal of plastic surgery, 53(7), 601–606. https://doi.org/10.1054/bjps.2000.3412
- Guo, X., Sun, T., Zhong, R., Ma, L., You, C., Tian, M., Li, H., & Wang, C. (2018). Effects of Chitosan Oligosaccharides on Human Blood Components. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 1412. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.01412
- Kubbinga, M., Nguyen, M. A., Staubach, P., Teerenstra, S., & Langguth, P. (2015). The Influence of Chitosan on the Oral Bioavailability of Acyclovir–a Comparative Bioavailability Study in Humans. Pharmaceutical research, 32(7), 2241–2249. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11095-014-1613-y