Chitosan is a form of fiber chemically processed from crustacean shells. Like other forms of fiber, such as oat bran, chitosan is not well digested by the human body. As it passes through the digestive tract, it seems to have an ability to bond with ingested fat and carry it out in the stool. For this reason, it has been tried as an agent for lowering cholesterol and reducing weight. However, the results in studies have been more negative than positive.
In addition, chitosan has been tried as a treatment for kidney failure and as an aid in wound healing.
Chitosan can be extracted from the shells of shrimp, crab, or lobster. It is also found in yeast and some fungi. Another inexpensive source of chitin is "squid pens," a byproduct of squid processing; these are small, plastic-like, inedible pieces of squid that are removed prior to eating.
The standard dosage of chitosan is 3 to 6 g per day, to be taken with food.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Chitosan?
These contradictory results suggest that if chitosan actually improves cholesterol profile at all, it does so to only a minimal extent.
Pregnant or nursing women and young children should probably avoid chitosan altogether.
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -