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Chitosan is a compound found in the shells of lobster, shrimp, and crab. It has been used to help control body mass and blood pressure. Chitosan can be taken as a pill or powder. It can also be applied with a bandage or gauze to improve wound healing.


2 to 4 grams once daily.

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

May Be Effective

  • Diabetic foot ulcer—may reduce ulcer size and promote healing A1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to use chitosan on the skin and to take it orally in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse such as:

  • People taking blood thinners should talk to their doctor before taking chitosan. It may interact with the medicine.


A. A. Diabetic Foot Ulcers

A1. Totsuka Sutto SE, Rodríguez Roldan YI, et al. Efficacy and safety of the combination of isosorbide dinitrate spray and chitosan gel for the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers: A double-blind, randomized, clinical trial. Diab Vasc Dis Res. 2018 Jul;15(4):348-351.

B. B. High blood pressure

B1. Huang H, Zou Y, et al. Quantitative assessment of the effects of chitosan intervention on blood pressure control. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2017;12:67-75.

C. C. High Cholesterol

C1. Baker WL, Tercius A, et al. A meta-analysis evaluating the impact of chitosan on serum lipids in hypercholesterolemic patients. Ann Nutr Metab. 2009;55(4):368-374.

C2. Huang H, Zou Y, et al. Lipid-Modifying Effects of Chitosan Supplementation in Humans: A Pooled Analysis with Trial Sequential Analysis. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2018 Apr;62(8):e1700842.

D. D. Obesity

D1. Trivedi VR, Satia MC, et al. Single-blind, placebo controlled randomised clinical study of chitosan for body weight reduction. Nutr J. 2016;15:3.

D2. Lütjohann D, Marinova M, et al. Influence of Chitosan Treatment on Surrogate Serum Markers of Cholesterol Metabolism in Obese Subjects. Nutrients. 2018;10(1):72.

D3. Moraru C, Mincea MM, et al. A Meta-Analysis on Randomised Controlled Clinical Trials Evaluating the Effect of the Dietary Supplement Chitosan on Weight Loss, Lipid Parameters and Blood Pressure. Medicina (Kaunas). 2018 Dec 12;54(6). pii: E109.

E. E. Wounds

E1. Mo X, Cen J, et al. An open multicenter comparative randomized clinical study on chitosan. Wound Repair Regen. 2015;23(4):518-524.

E2. Hu J, Fan D, et al. Safety and Efficacy of Sodium Hyaluronate Gel and Chitosan in Preventing Postoperative Peristomal Adhesions After Defunctioning Enterostomy: A Prospective Randomized Controlled Trials. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Dec;94(51):e2354.

E3. Zhou JC, Zhang JJ, et al. Efficacy of chitosan dressing on endoscopic sinus surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2017 Sep;274(9):3269-3274.

E4. Liu J, Zeng Q, et al. Influence of chitosan-based dressing on prevention of synechia and wound healing after endoscopic sinus surgery: A meta-analysis. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2017 Nov 4;31(6):401-405.

E5. Ha T, Valentine R, et al. The efficacy of a novel budesonide chitosan gel on wound healing following endoscopic sinus surgery. Int Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2018 Mar;8(3):435-443.

Last reviewed May 2020 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated:6/16/2020