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Chitosan: Knowing the History

Chitosan (pronounced Kite-O-San) has long been considered as the “fat magnet”.  Researches have it that it is simply a fat inhibitor which appears to work miracles for those in search of a safe way to lose that body fat.

The origin of chitosan can be traced back to 1811 when “chitin”, from which it is derived, was first discovered by Braconnot, a then professor of the natural history in France.

The chitosan is actually a substance taken from chitin, a polysaccharide found in the exoskeletons of crustaceans.  It is processed by removing the shells from the shellfish like lobster, shrimps and crabs.  How and when chitosan was discovered is the main subject to be tackled here.  Let’s consider the following details.


Some 20 years later, there was a man who authored an article on insects in which he noted that similar substance was present in the structure of insects as well as the structure of plants.  He then called this amazing substance as “chitin”.   Basically, the name chitin is derived from Greek, meaning “tunic” or “envelope”.   The concept was further known in 1843 when Lassaigne demonstrated the presence of nitrogen in chitin.


After the discovery of chitin, the name “chitosan” emerged in the scene.  It was first discovered by Rouget while experimenting with chitin.  Accordingly, Rouget observed that the compound of chitin could be manipulated through chemical and temperature treatments for it to become soluble.  Then, it was in 1878 when Ledderhose identified chitin to be made of glucosamine and acetic acid.   It was not actually until 1894 that Hoppe-Seyler named the tailored chitin, chitosan.


By the early 20th century, several researches took chitosan as their subject of study.  They then involved sources of chitin, including crab shells and fungai.   It was the work of Rammelberg in the 1930s that led to the confirmation on the identity of chitosan from these sources.  It was also noted that by hydrolyzing chitin in a number of ways, it was determined by experts that chitin is a polysaccharide of glucosamine.


1950s arrived and the use of x-ray analysis had advanced the study of the occurrence of chitin or chitosan in fungai.  However, it is only the most advanced technologies that proved the most reliable in identifying the presence of chitin as well as cellulose in the cell walls.   The first book on chitosan was published 140 years after the initial observation of Braconnot, and that was in 1951.


In the early 1960s, chitosan was investigated for its ability to bind with the red blood cells.  That time also, the substance was considered as a hemostatic agent.   Then, for the past three decades, chitosan has been used at water purification plants for detoxifying water.  It is spread over the surface where it absorbs greases, oils, and other potential toxins.


Today, it is known as a dietary supplement that is good for weight loss.   In fact, it has been marketed for such purpose for about 20 years in Japan as well as in Europe.  Many people even call it as the “fat blocker”.



We really do care about your health and happiness and are thrilled you are interested in our articles, but please always check with your doctor before trying something new!


Chitosan Plus: An Excellent Fat Burner?


Several chitosan-based products are highly available on the market these days.  One of the highly and commonly purchased chitosan-based products available today is the Chitosan Plus.


Unlike the other fibers that absorb fat and bile acids to a limited extent, chitosan is the super fiber that functions like a magnet; hence it is now dubbed as the “fat magnet”.


What is Chitosan Plus?


Chitosan Plus is derived from the exoskeleton of crabs.  It has long been known as a designer fiber especially formulated and developed to attract and hold food fat as well as cholesterol for safe elimination.  What it does is to attract negatively charged food fat, cholesterol and bile molecules.   Aside from this, there are a number of clinical trials which indicate that Chitosan Plus can absorb as much as five times its own weight in fat, bile and cholesterol in the digestive tract.


How Does It Work?


Chitosan Plus, being derived from chitin, is different from other fiber-based products.  Claims have it that the particles of chitosan are positively electrically charged during its purification process.  And, since opposites attract, this is what cause chitosan to be a fat magnet as it attracts fat molecules, which are negatively charged.


Furthermore, Chitosan Plus contains chitin which is an amino polysaccharide.   Chitosan is even considered as an alkalized form of chitin so it has the ability to bind fats in the stomach before they are absorbed through the digestive system.  


According to some proponents of Chitosan Plus, this supplement has the ability to absorb over one-third of one’s dietary fat depending upon the amount of chitosan taken.   The resulting non-digestible mass is then excreted through the digestive tract in the process enhancing elimination.


Today, the effect of Chitosan Plus on the excretion of fat is five to ten times greater than any other natural dietary fiber.  This product is calorie free and is therefore a very valuable dietary supplement for those who wish to improve their health and yet maintain a low-calorie and high-fiber diet.


Experts further hold that if the Chitosan Plus is taken with Vitamin C, it works more effectively.  This claim is actually patterned on the 1994 study which indicated that the addition of vitamin C to chitosan resulted in a 50 percent increase in the chitosan’s ability to bind fat.   What’s more interesting to know is that ingesting Chitosan Plus with its antioxidant ascorbic acid not only aids reduce cholesterol levels, but also aids to scavenge the oxidizing effect of oxidized cholesterol in the system.


Directions for Use


Take 1 to 2 capsules of Chitosan Plus with 12 oz. of water before every meal, or as directed by the health care professional.  Also, don’t exceed to 6 capsules per day, and as with all the weight loss regimens, be sure that you maintain a well balanced diet and take plenty of water.


Warning: It is important to note that those who are allergic to shellfish must not take Chitosan Plus.  Do not also take if you are pregnant, lactating or taking medication.  If possible, consult with your doctor before using.


Chitosan Warning: Reasons to be Skeptical


Chitosan is now highly marketed as a powerful weight loss supplement.  Well, on its most basic, chitosan is a substance found in the shells of crustaceans, like crabs, lobsters and shrimps.   It is extracted and taken in a form of supplement with meals believing that it encourages weight loss by binding to fat molecules in the digestive tract, preventing the body from absorbing the fat, in the end.

However, whether chitosan is safe and effective as a diet aid still remains controversial.

Several studies have reported that chitosan really does work for weight loss, while others have reported that it doesn’t.  No matter what the reports have revealed or suggested, it is best to look at the chitosan warnings.  After all, there is nothing wrong for being skeptical, right?


I have here some chitosan warnings you may encounter when you consider chitosan.  These chitosan warnings are really worth noting:




Aside from those above mentioned chitosan warnings, there are other factors that must be considered before buying chitosan-based products.  First of those is the fact that the composition of chitin may vary depending on the seawater, the animal from which it is taken, and the time of year.  Note that there is no pure form that can be counted on. 


Another chitosan warning is that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) won an $8.3 million judgment against a company violating federal consumer protection laws with false claims concerning chitin.  The FTC lawsuit is even the first of the several additional suits for false claims regarding chitosan.


Having said all these, it is then best to educate yourself about the substance and do your homework if possible.  Consult with an expert and just be careful.


What Are The Dangers of Chitosan?

I guess you’ve heard about chitin and chitosan as they are heavily promoted in television infomercials, magazine and newspaper ads, and even on dozens of websites.  Numerous claims have it that chitin and chitosan promote effortless weight loss, that is, the chance to shed pounds without sacrificing your favorite foods or engaging in exercise and other activities that might cause you to break a sweat.


Although highly claimed as fat busters, fat absorbers, fat trappers and fat magnets, there are no studies or evidences to support such mentioned claims.   Those who are consuming large quantities of chitosan have been doing so without scientific evidence to support that the products really work.  There was one lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against a company named SlimAmerica for advertising and violating federal consumer protection laws with the company’s chitin claims.   FTC won $8.3 million for that judgment.  Several other lawsuits were filed, all against the misleading advertisements of chitosan.


The basis of such judgments against the manufacturers of chitosan is the fact that there are no scientific evidences shown to back up their claims.  Although it has been reported that there are no known dangers of chitosan, critics still warn the people about the potential dangers of chitosan and chitin.


Perhaps one of the most common reasons for the critics’ warning about the possible dangers of chitosan is that the composition of the chitin can vary depending on the seawater, including the time of year and the animal it is extracted from.  For example, shrimp from different regions can absorb through the natural chelation process different impurities from the surrounding water.  The chelation is actually the process to which chitin captures fat in the intestine and sweep them through the body before they are metabolized.


Experts further stressed that there is a great possibility for adverse dangers of chitosan to occur as although many brands advertise that they have pure chitin or chitosan, there is really no pure form.  Chitosan-based products are always combined with lots and lots of other things, and those other things are very hard to remove.


The possible dangers of chitosan may also occur to those who have seafood allergies.  It’s no wonder that many critics and even the makers of chitosan-based products warn that consumers with seafood allergies should avoid their products as chitosan is derived from crustacean shells.


The proliferation of chitosan further worries many the diet experts who believe that the promotional claims of the chitosan-based products offer false hope to very desperate, overweight people.   There is a possibility that these people may hope that the chitosan might have even some small effect.


And, as what I’ve said earlier, there is great possibility for some adverse dangers of chitosan to occur as scientific evidence just doesn’t support their use.  It was in fact found out by some thorough researches that the studies conducted on chitosan were uncontrolled and involved just anecdotal evidence.  There were no high-quality, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trials to support the efficacy of the product.  Much worse is that those chitosan studies failed to comply with the minimum accepted scientific standards. 


Were the various chitosan weight loss products as good as fat binder as their claims assert, they would also likely cause massive diarrhea, constipation, and strip the body of essential fat soluble, and these are just among the potential dangers of chitosan.


The Truth Behind Chitosan “I Lost…” Claims

Chitosan is a special fiber that has long been considered as a natural solution for weight loss.   It has been around for ages though, but it is only recently that chitosan “I lost…” claims were raised in question.   Makers of chitosan have done their share of work to create an image truly appealing to any and all that dream of losing that extra fat, while on the other hand, researches have exerted their efforts just to find out the real score of chitosan behind these chitosan “I lost…” claims.


According to some researches, while Braconnot was conducting research on mushrooms, he isolated what was later to be called chitin.


The Basics of Chitosan


Chitosan is a natural fiber derived from the exoskeletons of arthropods and some fungi.  It is specifically taken from chitin and is processed by removing the shells and grounding them into a pulverous powder.  The powder is then deacetylated or basically stripped of specific chemical groups which allow the compound to actively absorb fats before it is absorbed by the body.  


Prior to the emergence of a number of chitosan “I lost…” weight loss claims, the compound has been used in the past in the process of detoxifying water.  It was simply spread over the surface of the water, where it would immediately absorb any toxic substances like oils, greases and dangerous heavy metals.   As many reports have noted, the process is so complete that a scum forms over the surface of water and is then easily removed.  It is for this reason actually that chitosan is extremely popular all over the world in water purification plants.


Today, more and more people are considering chitosan not only for water purification purposes.  Chitosan is now deemed effective for cholesterol reduction and weight loss.   As mentioned earlier, a number of chitosan “I lost…” claims have been emerging.  And, I think the real reason for the emergence of such claims lies on the results of the studies conducted.

Benefiting Weight Loss?


Several studies were actually conducted to find out the real score of chitosan for weight loss.   Many of these studies have revealed positive results, but despite of these results in small preliminary medical studies, the largest and by far best designed clinical trial conducted to back up the chitosan “I lost…” weight loss claims unfortunately failed to find benefits.   This well-known study is the noted 6-month double-blind and placebo controlled study involving 250 overweight people who were required to use chitosan at a dose of three grams a day.   The results of this trial, however, failed to improve weight loss to any meaningful extent as compared to placebo.   Several other studies have supported this particular study, making those chitosan “I lost…” claims quite questionable.


Perhaps what makes those chitosan “I lost…” claims further uncertain is the fact that most of the studies conducted are done on animal model like rats.  These studies did show effectiveness and did show some fat-absorbing abilities, however no studies have been done on the effects of chitosan on dietary fat absorption in humans.


Taken those studies together, the weight loss experts all agree that those chitosan “I lost…” claims you often read on some journals and advertisements are simply unreliable and unproven.  Chitosan simply doesn’t work.


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Chitosan Weight Loss - 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".

Chitosan Cure Help Health - Chitosan (pronounced Kite-O-San) has long been considered as the "fat magnet". Researches have it that it is simply a fat inhibitor which appears to work miracles for those in search of a safe way to lose that body fat.

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