Chitosan comes from chitin, which is part of the outer shell-like structure of insects, spiders, and crustaceans.
Chitosan is sold in the United States and other countries as a form of dietary fiber that reduces fat absorption. However, scientific evidence suggests only a small effect of chitosan on fat absorption.
Chitosan may be effective for lowering levels of blood cholesterol or lipids. Whether the use of chitosan is equal to or better than other treatments for high cholesterol is not yet known. Study results suggest that chitosan may help improve cholesterol levels when combined with a low-calorie diet.
Some evidence indicates that chitosan may be useful for patients undergoing hemodialysis for kidney failure and in the management of dental plaque. More evidence is needed to confirm these results.

Related Terms

Absorbitol®, carboxybutyl chitosan, chitin, chitosan ascorbate, deacetylated chitin biopolymer, deacetylated chitosan, enzymatic polychitosamine hydrolisat, Exofat, Fat Absorb, Fat Blocker, Fat Breaker, Fatsorb, Fat Trapper, Fat Trapper Plus, Fronac N, glucosamine, HEP-30, kitosan, LipoSan Ultra,microcrystalline chitosan, mono-carboxymethylated chitosan, N-acetylated glucosamine, Nofat®, Novamic, Somagril®, sulfated carboxymethylchitosan, sulfated chitosan, sulfated N-acetylchitosan, trimethyl chitosan chloride.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
High cholesterol (Grade: B)
Study results suggest that chitosan may help improve cholesterol levels when combined with a low-calorie diet.
Obesity/weight loss (Grade: B)
While some studies suggest that chitosan is an effective weight loss therapy, others have found it is ineffective. More evidence is needed.
Dental plaque (Grade: C)
Evidence suggests that chitosan has antibacterial properties and may reduce dental plaque. More evidence is needed.
Kidney failure (Grade: C)
Limited evidence suggests that chitosan may be useful during long-term hemodialysis. Further studies are needed to determine safety and efficacy.
Wound healing (Grade: C)
There is limited evidence on the effects of chitosan in wound healing. Better studies are needed.