Chitosan for Herbal Naturopathy: properties, benefits, uses, side effects

Chitosan is a polysaccharide extracted from chitin present in the skeleton of marine crystals useful for reducing body weight and controlling cholesterol, as it has the ability to bind fats to itself, preventing their accumulation. Let’s find out better.

Meaning of chitosan

Chitosan is a linear polysaccharide, composed of D-glucosamine and N-acetyl-D-glucosamine, which protects crustaceans and insects by giving hardness and resistance to shells, carapaces and armor.

Where is chitosan found

Chitosan is synthesized by deacetylation of chitins, with a basic aqueous solution. Chitin is found, in nature, in the exoskeleton of marine crustaceans such as crabs and shrimps. 

Properties and use of chitosan

Chitosan is used in low- calorie diets for weight reduction, as it has the ability to bind fats to itself, preventing their accumulation. The amino groups of chitosan with strong positive polarity attract the negatively charged carboxyl groups of lipids (cholesterol, triglycerides) and bile ones.

This ability to absorb fats, favoring their elimination with the faeces, is exploited in many products intended for overweight people or people with high levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood as chitosan limits their absorption and accumulation, favoring thus the balance between fat mass and lean or muscle mass. 

These electrolytic bonds that are formed between chitosan and lipids have little tendency to bind with water, are not digested by the enzymes of our digestive system and consequently cannot be absorbed via the intestine; thus the chitosan captures the fat by incorporating it, to then be eliminated through the feces in the intestine. 

Contraindications of chitosan

Natural supplements based on chitosan must not be taken during pregnancy (they may contain traces of mercury, lead, copper, iron and arsenic), breastfeeding and in case of food allergy to shellfish.

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