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Natural Cures Chitosan Articles, Tips and Information

Studies on Chitosan: Is Chitosan A Real Fat Blocker?

Several claims have emerged noting chitosan as one of the most effective fat burners.   In fact, it makes grand promises of absorbing fat and preventing it from getting into your body, considering it as the ultimate “fat blocker”.   But, is it really a fat blocker?

To begin, one of the most commonly cited studies on chitosan by the marketers and manufacturers of chitosan-based products is the 1994 ARS Medicina (Helsinki) Report.

Before considering any of the studies conducted on chitosan, it is best to know first that whether chitosan is safe or effective as diet aid remains controversial even up to these days.  Probably you’ve heard a lot of claims regarding the benefits of chitosan.  Many people have said that chitosan does work, but these claims are contradicted by few studies.  Thorough clinical studies on humans have shown that chitosan does NOT work!

 

Okay, let me mention the studies on chitosan that support and contradict these claims.

 

Secondly, there are various studies on chitosan which revealed that the substance lowers plasma cholesterol and triglycerides and improved the HDL cholesterol level.

 

Looking at these pieces of evidence, one might be sufficiently convinced that chitosan’s claims are indeed true.  However, when taking the designs of the studies on chitosan into consideration, the evidence appears in a much different light.

 

In the first place, the 1994 ARS Medicina (Helsinki) Report and others that support it appear to be slackly designed.  Experts have noted that only uncontrolled and anecdotal evidence seem to be the only available evidence in research up to date.

 

Furthermore, most of the cholesterol lowering evidences reported in other resources is attained in another noteworthy fashion.  The fact is, most of the studies on chitosan were conducted on mice, canines, guinea pigs, and broiler chickens.  There is actually a lack of studies on chitosan conducted on humans. 

 

It is much unfortunate to say that only one well-designed study on chitosan, involving humans as subject, has been published.   That study was conducted in 1999 by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showing that chitosan supplement were no better than a placebo in reducing body weight.  34 overweight subjects were actually involved in this study.  They were assigned to either a “treatment group” which received 4 capsules of chitosan twice daily for 28 days, or to a “placebo group” which received a placebo under the same regimen.   After days of treatment, the results revealed no significant difference between two groups on any of the body mass index, serum cholesterol, triglycerides, Vitamins A, D, E or beta-carotene levels.   This is what actually led weight loss experts to agree that chitosan simply don’t work.

 

Further studies on chitosan were conducted, but all of them, however, have shown that chitosan didn’t block fat.  As you may notice, these studies on chitosan have the same findings as the European Journal research.  And, even worse, chitosan has been shown to block out some vitamins and minerals.

 

Taken into consideration together, these studies on chitosan suggest that our hopes of a miracle dietary supplement remains as simply “hopes”.   Well-designed studies and fast and hard evidences that could support the effectiveness of chitosan still appears to be absent from the literature.  What the advertisements are saying are simply media hypes, thus the search for a miracle dietary supplement continues.

 

Health needs to be earned!

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As always, before you attempt to self medicate or try a new health regimen or program we suggest you retain the services of a qualified health care professional.

 

Chitosan Affecting Blood Lipids

 

Chitosan and its use as a weight loss aid and cholesterol lowering agent has long been the favorite topic of considerable study in the last several decades.  Numerous reports have noted that an increasing chitosan intake usually leads to decreased serum cholesterol levels as well as increased ratios of high density to low density lipoproteins which is well documented to be protective against cardiovascular diseases.

 

Chitosan, as you may know, is made by deacetylation of chitin, the cellulose-like material found in the outer shells of insects, crabs, lobsters, and other crustaceans, as well as in fungal cell walls.

 

Along with the noted fat and cholesterol lowering effects of chitosan, several claims have emerged stressing the effects of chitosan on blood lipids. Unlike most plant fibers, chitosan is known for having positively charged amino groups which form ionic bonds with lipids and bile components.

 

The mechanism of how chitosan affecting blood lipids await elucidation.  However, the mechanism is most likely mediated by the chitosan actions on micelle formation in the gut.  Micelle is basically the lipid transporter.  According to some experts, the mixed micelles in the gastrointestinal tract contain free fatty acids, cholesterol and other components.  It is also the method by which lipids are absorbed into the blood stream.  Perhaps what supports the idea of chitosan affecting blood lipids is the fact that chitosan acts by binding to the free fatty acids and bile acid components, thus removing them from the micelles and disrupting the absorption of lipids.

 

Numerous studies have been conducted to reveal the real score of chitosan affecting blood lipids.   These studies were conducted in both animals and humans, and the effects have generally been more dramatic in various animal models.  Perhaps this is due to higher chitosan intake in many of the studies.   However, some of the studies also show very dramatic reductions on cholesterol as well in LDL cholesterol levels.  And, there are some that showed increases in the HLD cholesterol, as well.

 

Studies conducted in humans have gathered results that have been less clear-cut, though some still suggestive of positive effects.  One particular study conducted to find out if the claims on chitosan affecting blood lipids are true is the recent placebo-controlled, double-blind study which noted that there was a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol among subjects receiving 2,4000 milligrams of chitosan daily, compared with placebo subjects.  Nevertheless, it was found out that chitosan had no significant effect on the serum total cholesterol or on HDL, but it slightly increased triglycerides.   Other studies have reported similar lipid effects, but a few others have reported that the claims on chitosan affecting blood lipids are not at all valid.  

 

Perhaps, these differences are due to the dissimilarity in the dosage of chitosan given.

 

One means by which chitosan is thought to affect lipids and cholesterol levels is by altering the metabolism of bile in the gut.  This has actually been documented in most animal studies, and some of the results appear to confirm the claims on chitosan affecting blood lipids.

 

Natrol Chitosan

Chitosan, as you may know, has long been marketed as a fat magnet for its ability to bind fats in the digestive tract, preventing the absorption of these fats, thus promote weight loss.  Of all those well-known, highly marketed chitosan-based products, there is one particular brand that stands out as one of the best – the Natrol Chitosan.

As the name suggests, the Natrol Chitosan is a product of Natrol, Inc., a diversified nutritional supplement company headquartered in Southern California.

This company actually manufactures and markets branded and high quality nutritional supplements, teas and sports fitness products.  In addition, Natrol Inc. is a primary manufacturer producing its own capsules and tables.  It is also a contract manufacturer for selected private label customers.

 

Numerous reviews indicated that what sets Natrol Chitosan apart from many other chitosan brands on the market today is its “quality uncompromised” principle.  Note that it is the first and foremost the very foundation of the Natrol philosophy.

 

There are a lot of products listed under the Natrol’s Chitosan line.  One of the most well-known and highly purchased is the Natrol Chitosan 500mg.  According to some product reviews, this chitosan-based dietary supplement is an all natural source of dietary fiber.  It contains chitosan which is 95 percent deacetylated for increase solubility, including magnesium stearate, gelation and silica.  It is also said to be an effective dietary supplement that is easy to swallow.

 

Unlike the other weight loss supplements, Natrol Chitosan 500mg contains no yeasts, wheat, corn, milk, egg, glutens, added sugar, starch preservatives, making it all-natural.  However, since Natrol Chitosan is derived from the shells of crustaceans like crabs, shrimps, and lobsters, it should not be taken by those who are sensitive to shellfish.   As often recommended, it is best to consult with your health care professional before taking any of the Natrol Chitosan, especially if you have or suspect a medical condition.   Just like the other chitosan-based products, Natrol Chitosan must not also be taken by those who are pregnant or lactating.   It is also important to note that this product is not applicable before beginning any weight loss or exercise program.    In addition, do not take chitosan-based products with fat soluble vitamins such as A, E and K.

 

For further emphasis on Natrol Chitosan 500mg, it is necessary to note the right dosage for this product.   As directed, take three capsules of this supplement before a fat containing meal with eight ounces of water.  For optimal result, you can have no more than two fat-containing meals per day.

 

You can store any of the available Natrol chitosan-based products in a cool dry place.   Along with this recommendation, it is also necessary to keep it out of reach of children.

 

Today, Natrol is constantly broadening its horizons by way of formulating and manufacturing new and innovative products while staying on the cutting edge, providing the consumers a better quality life.  Natrol, in fact, is said to produce the highest quality and superior value of not only chitosan-based products, but also other health-related supplements that science and nature can deliver.

 

How Chitosan Works?

 

Crustaceans, such as shrimps, lobsters, crabs, crayfish, prawns, and other shellfish may seem an unlikely source of a natural remedy that can help you lose that body fat.  However, think twice before you throw away those crab, lobsters or shrimp shells.  Those shells are in fact composed of chitin, a naturally occurring compound that has long been dubbed as “fat magnet” by many researchers for ages.  From chitin, there came chitosan, the natural and commercially available preparation used by millions of dieters across the globe.

 

Chitosan from crustaceans is composed of a number of molecules of chitin strung together.   It is said to be completely indigestible and is chemically similar to cellulose or plant fiber.   However, unlike the other fibers, the chitosan is said to work with miracles for weight loss.  How chitosan works for weight loss primarily lies on the claims that it binds to fat molecules in your bowel, preventing those fats from being absorbed by the body.   Instead, the chitosan accompanies the fats through the bowel where both of them are eliminated by stools.  Chitosan can in fact bind up to six times its weight in fat.  As a result, you will then absorb less fat and fewer calories, thus helping you to lose weight.

 

However, many people still claimed that how chitosan works for weight loss requires it to be coupled with a proper diet and exercise.  The reason for this is that chitosan on its own would not help you lose weight over the long term.  But, if you want a maximum benefit, it should be added with a proper diet and exercise.   For the answers on how chitosan works for weight loss to become apparent, experts also suggest taking chitosan for a minimum of 12 weeks.

 

Studies have found out that chitosan works in a similar way to the prescription-only drug, the Xenical or Orlistat, which is also taken as a weight loss supplement.  How chitosan works and how orlistat works for weight loss seemed similar in a way that orlistat also blocks the absorption of fat in the body and if used in association with a proper diet and exercise, it can help you lose weight.

 

It is important to note, however, that how chitosan works does not only depend on the weight loss claims.  The benefits of chitosan in fact go beyond weight loss.  Numerous exciting new researches were conducted and they revealed the cholesterol-lowering powers of chitosan.   Unlike the conventional cholesterol-lowering drugs that have potential side effects such as chest pains, itchiness, hair loss and sleep problems, chitosan is much gentler.

 

Chitosan is also deemed effective for boosting the powers of insulin.   A very recent experiment revealed that this special fiber helps prevent diabetes in mice, particularly the form of diabetes that is related to obesity.  According to this study, how chitosan works for boosting insulin lies on the fact that it decreases the blood sugar and that the more chitosan is used, the more blood sugar is lowered.  In addition to this, other studies have found out that chitosan balances the actions of the cells that produce insulin.  It even makes insulin work more effectively in lowering the blood sugar.

 

Chitosan for Weight Loss

 

You probably heard some news and ads about chitosan as a natural solution for weight loss.  Well, that’s what most of the makers of this product are claiming.  They have done their share of work to create an image truly appealing to any and all that dream of losing that extra fat.  And, now they believe that their chitosan weight loss products are simply fat inhibitors that appear to work miracles for those in search of a safe way to lose that body fat.

 

What is Chitosan?

 

Chitosan has been around for ages and has long been considered as a powerful weight loss solution.   It is derived from chitin, a polysaccharide found in the exoskeletons or shells of crustaceans.   The chitin is processed by removing the shells from the shellfish, like crabs, shrimps and lobsters.  The shells are then ground into a pulverous powder which is deacetylated or stripped of specific chemical groups, allowing the compound to actively soak up fats.

 

How Does Chitosan Work for Weight Loss?

 

As you may know, a number of chitosan weight loss supplements are now available on the market for public purchase.   Well, let’s take a look at how exactly the chitosan weight loss products are used for such purpose.

 

Basically stated, chitosan is a special fiber which is able to soak up or absorb anywhere from six to ten times its weight in fat and oils.    If we will look at it in terms of substance, chitosan then appears chemically similar to the plant fiber, cellulose.  The idea of chitosan as “great” for weight loss stemmed from the notion that chitosan weight loss products are able to significantly bind with fat molecules and convert them into a form which the human body does not absorb.  This works, of course, when the product is taken according to what is directed.

 

Furthermore, chitosan weight loss supplements claim to affect that fat prior to it reaching the stomach and thus the fat loses the chance to be metabolized.  It is also noted that the chitosan prevents the absorption and storage of fat by converting it into a gel which traps or blocks the fat.   In some ways, chitosan forms a “grease ball” from this excess fat, which is to large to be absorbed by the body.   Because of this, the fat then becomes an inert substance and is only excreted in the stool.

 

What makes chitosan truly remarkable is that unlike other fibers, it carries a positive ionic charge.  Since lipids, fats and bile acids all possess negative charges, there is then a chemical bond between the two and thus they attract naturally to one another.  However, it is also this “too good to be true’ ability of the chitosan weight loss supplements that causes suspicions to arise on the validity of these claims.

 

Although chitosan weight loss supplements are now highly distributed, the idea of whether it is safe of effective remains controversial.   The claim that chitosan weight loss is 100 percent natural and acts a super fiber is still supported with no background studies or medical proof of any sort.

 

Possible Side Effects of Chitosan

Chitosan, dubbed by many as “fat magnet”, is a unique form of fiber found in the bones of crustaceans like crabs, shrimps, lobsters, crayfish and squid.  It is a non-digestible fiber that is extracted and taken in supplement form with meals.

 

According to some clinical studies, chitosan is great for weight loss as it binds fat to molecules in the digestive tract, preventing the body from absorbing the fat.  It also lowers the cholesterol in the blood, treat anemia, and improve the person’s strength, the immune system, as well as the appetite and sleep.   Also reported is that chitosan can help treat tooth and gum infections and help tissue healing after plastic surgery.

 

However, whether chitosan is effective for treating such mentioned conditions or safe as a diet aid still remains controversial.   It is often the subject of most debates regarding weight loss. Some say that there are adverse side effects of chitosan, while others have shown evidences that contradict such belief.  

 

Well, at the time of writing, there were no well-known adverse side effects of chitosan.  Perhaps one main reason for this is that there are still no long-term studies of the side effects of chitosan on human health as most of the studies were conducted on animals.    However, if we will look at those animal studies and the first published 1999 clinical trial done on humans, results suggest that chitosan could inhibit the absorption of minerals and fat soluble vitamins.   Also, studies have revealed certain adverse side effects of chitosan to pregnant women, particularly on the growth of children and the outcome of pregnancy.

 

Experts also found out other minor side effects of chitosan.  These possible side effects may include breathing problems or tightness in your chest or throat, as well as chest pain and skin hives, rash, or itchy or swollen skin.  Other possible side effects of chitosan are headaches and swollen heels and wrists.

 

With all those mentioned possible side effects, it’s no wonder that experts highly suggest to stop taking your medicine right away and talk to your doctor if you have any of the mentioned side effects.   The reason is your medicine may be causing such symptoms which may mean that you are allergic to chitosan-based products. 

 

So perhaps the best that you can do to protect yourself and your health is to tell your health care professional before taking any chitosan-based products about your current medication.  Tell your doctor if you are taking medicine or are allergic to any medicine, or if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while using chitosan.   This must also apply to those mothers who are breastfeeding, as well as to people who have clotting problems and have any other health problem, such as high blood pressure or heart or blood vessel disease.

 

Talk with your caregiver about how much chitosan you should take.  Note that an over dosage of chitosan-based products may lead to those possible side effects of chitosan.   Just note that the amount of chitosan highly depends on the strength of the medicine and the reason you are taking it.   So, if you are taking this medicine without instructions from your caregiver, then follow the directions written on the label.   To ensure that you are free from the possible side effects of chitosan, do not take more medicine or take it more often than the directions tell you.

Tips to Consider Before You Buy Chitosan

Chitosan has been around for ages.  It is now marketed as weight loss product as this special fiber has been shown to bind fat in the intestine, blocking its absorption by the body.   It is even dubbed as “fat magnet” due to such function. 

 

In this study, it was found out that test subjects lost eight percent of body fat and reduced cholesterol by thirty-two percent in four weeks.

 

Chitosan comes from chitin, a polysaccharide found in the exoskeletons of crustaceans or shellfish like crabs, shrimps and lobsters.  Perhaps the main point to consider here is that, although chitosan and chitin is an all natural fiber highly considered effective for weight loss, it is necessary to note that not all trials conducted have proven the fiber’s efficacy in weight loss management. 

 

So, if you are now planning to buy chitosan, here are some tips that you must consider before running to a health store and buy chitosan.

 

Do Your Homework

 

Whether chitosan is safe or effective as a dietary supplement remains questionable.  Numerous researches have noted that chitosan on its own is not capable of losing that body fat, unless it is added with a proper diet and exercise.

 

In one study conducted with 250 adults receiving either 3 grams of chitosan daily or placebo for 24 weeks, it was shown that the chitosan group lost more body weight than the placebo group, but the general effects were small.  To mention in particular, the chitosan group lost an average of 0.9 pounds compared to a 0.4 pound gain in the placebo group.

 

Also, before you buy chitosan, note first that similar small changes were seen in the total and LDL cholesterol levels and there were no significant difference between groups for any of the other measured outcomes, like body mass index, waist circumference, percentage of body fat, quality of life, and blood pressure.

 

Aside from collecting pieces of literature about chitosan, you can also ask for some recommendations from your friends perhaps before you buy chitosan.  Get advice to the health food store, but be careful though as most of the advices given are anyone’s guess.   Perhaps the best way to seek for an advice is to consult a health care professional before you buy chitosan.

 

Note the Label Statements

 

Before you buy chitosan, note first what the retailers of chitosan based products are saying.  One rule to note is that the retailers should not go much beyond the label statements.   This of course places them on the safe side as many lawsuits were actually filed against those makers who advertise unbelievable claims about chitosan.  If you have already purchased chitosan, just follow what is directed on the label.  Don’t also go beyond what is directed.   To be safe, consult with a health care professional and ask for a recommendation regarding the proper usage.

 

The Bottom Line: Educate Yourself

 

In today’s deregulated climate, consumers who are planning to buy chitosan should educate themselves before even setting foot in a heath food store.   Note that up to these days, the benefit of chitosan for weight loss is still unproven.   Several researches were still done to support the chitosan claims, thus to buy chitosan without educating yourself about the product and its background is like setting foot in a battle field without your weapon and armor.

 

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