Chitosan Analyzed Feature Image

Fact Checked


Chitosan is a type of sugar, used for medicine. It is obtained from chitin – a substance, which forms in the in the hard outer skeleton of shellfish, such as crayfish, crab, shrimp, lobster and squid.

Chitosan is often used to treat obesity and is taken as a dietary supplement by those aiming to lose weight and lower their cholesterol. As it is a fibrous substance, it is said to stop absorption of dietary cholesterol and fat.

It is also used to treat Crohn’s disease – as well as kidney failure complications (such as anemia, loss of appetite or trouble sleeping).

Some research also supports the claim that Chitosan may effectively treat gum disease (periodontitis).

The Bottom Line – Chitosan is a sugar, which is found in the outer skeleton of shellfish. It is often used to treat obesity and Crohn’s disease, lower cholesterol and help with the symptoms of kidney failure.

Chitosan Health Benefits

It is believed that taking Chitosan as a supplement could have several significant health benefits – including weight loss.

Below is a list of the possible benefits we’ve found:

Chitosan Can Help With Weight Loss 

While there are some mixed results in weight loss trials regarding its efficacy, some studies [1] have shown that taking Chitosan supplements could result in greater reduction in body weight. In a systematic review of multiple randomized controlled trials, where participants who were overweight/ obese used Chitosan for a minimum duration of 4 weeks, researchers found that the use of Chitosan resulted “in a small but statistically significant greater reduction in body weight”.

Chitosan Could Lower the Risk of Diabetes

Some research [2] has also found that Chitosan could effectively lower the risk of diabetes, particularly the form that’s related to obesity. Chitosan works to decrease blood sugar levels, meaning that it could help maintain healthy, low levels of sugar in the blood. It does so by balancing out the processes of cells that produce insulin, helping insulin become more efficient in reducing blood sugar levels.

Helps Improve Blood Pressure

Some studies [3] have looked at the effect of Chitosan on lowering blood pressure. Poor blood pressure is responsible for two-thirds of stroke and one-half of all ischemic heart disease problems. It can cause a heart attack, heart failure and various other serious health issues. Chitosan could be used to improve blood pressure – even though the evidence from the studies conducted into its efficacy is not yet conclusive.

Chitosan Could Help Heal Wounds

Chitosan is known for its antimicrobial effect and its ability to heal wounds [4]. Since it was discovered about 200 years ago, it has been used as an antibacterial solution in wound management. When a solution of Chitosan is applied on a wound directly, it helps form fibroblasts – and this results in the quickening of the configuration of the normal tissue.

How To Use Chitosan

Chitosan is mainly used as a supplement to aid weight loss, as research into its efficacy has shown it to be effective in decreasing fat absorption.

The most common methods of taking Chitosan are:

  1. As capsules or tablets, 2 x 500mg capsules before lunch – and two before dinner 

The typical dosage amount for Chitosan ranges between 1-2g daily. In most clinical studies, the amount administered daily was 2.4g. It is recommended that you do not exceed 2.4g.

Are There Any Foods That Contain Chitosan?

Since Chitosan is obtained from the outer skeleton of crustaceans, it can be found in shellfish such as crabs, lobster and shrimp.

Chitosan can also be found in a few other types of food, such as:

  • Yeasts
  • Mushrooms

Chitosan Side Effects List

As with any supplement, there may be potential side effects, which are important to know about.

Here are the potential side effects Chitosan may have:

  • Stomach upset/ discomfort
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Swelling of wrists and/ or heels
  • Gas

Note: these side effects are possible but may not be the typical user experience.

Is Chitosan Safe?

If taken as a supplement by mouth for up to six months, Chitosan is possibly safe for most adults.

Remember, prior to using Chitosan, you should consult with your doctor if you have any kind of medical condition.

When Should I Not Take Chitosan?

  • If you are pregnant and/or breast-feeding: There isn’t enough information yet to determine whether Chitosan is safe for pregnant/ breastfeeding women. To avoid any potential complications, it is best to not to take Chitosan if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • If you are allergic to shellfish: Since Chitosan is obtained from shellfish, taking its supplements if you are allergic to any form of shellfish would be risky and should be avoided.

Has Chitosan Been Linked To Any Deaths?

Chitosan has not been linked to any deaths.

The Bottom Line – Chitosan is an effective supplement which could be used by those aiming to lose weight. Some research has confirmed that it effectively blocks fat absorption and could be used as a beneficial supplement to help shed unwanted pounds. Generally deemed to be safe, Chitosan shouldn’t be used by those who are pregnant or breastfeeding or have shellfish allergies. While no severe side effects have been reported, Chitosan may cause mild side effects such as stomach upset, gas, constipation, headaches and swelling of wrists and/ or heels.

Where Can I Buy Chitosan & Do I Need A Prescription?

You don’t need a doctor’s prescription to purchase Chitosan in a supplement form.

Chitosan can be bought from a range of pharmacies, and speciality nutrient and supplement suppliers.

Remember to only buy supplements made by reputable brands.


Chitosan is a type of sugar, which is obtained from the hard outer skeleton of shellfish. It is used tor medicinal purposes and has been shown to be effective in treating several diseases and conditions, including Crohn’s disease, obesity and gum disease (periodontitis). When taken as a supplement for up to 6 months, Chitosan could boost your body’s ability to lose weight.

Close Menu

Fact Checked

This article has been reviewed and fact-checked by a certified nutritionist, and only uses information from credible academic sources.