Chitosan and Chitosan Oligosaccharides for the Treatment of Fungal Polyps and Mold Illness

By Dr. Don Dennis, MD, FACS

When looking into treating or detoxing the body from mold and mycotoxins, there are thousands of supplements and remedies out there. There are even substances that claim to be miracle cures. I have never bought into such hype nor do I believe that there is one product or protocol that will work for everyone–all bodies, situations, and physical experiences of mold illness are different and unique to the sufferer. That being said, I want to discuss one evidence-based “super-food” from ancient Japanese medicine that I have been using for many years with much success in the treatment of nasal polyps: a mixture of Chitosan oligosaccharides (CO) and Chitin-chitosan (CC). This mixture combined into capsule form as MicroChitosan has shown tremendous antimicrobial activity with mold as well as the ability to lessen the neurological symptoms that plague many of my patients long after the more acute symptoms of mold exposure have resolved. My suspicion is that since the product contains nanoparticles of chitosan, it is small enough to easily pass through the gut and could also be passing the blood-brain barrier to detoxify the whole body more therapeutically, especially for those patients who genetically have a defect in their ability to produce glutathione or who have shown impaired ability to remove biotoxins.

What is MicroChitosan?

Chitin-chitosan (CC) is a mixture of chitin and chitosan. The chitin, a component of the exoskeletons of crustaceans such as shrimp, lobster, or crab, becomes chitosan upon enzymatic treatment. Chitin has been a part of Japanese folk medicine for thousands of years. Evidence that chitin has been used since ancient times (Ming Dynasty, China) can be found in The Herb List: “Break a crab shell, grind it, make a ball out of it and eat it to treat anything that swells or grows.”

Since chitosan itself is more of a fiber, more like cellulose, it has been used most for detoxification in the GI tract, and for regenerative, antimicrobial topical use in wound healing. Chitosan oligosaccharides (CO), or what I am calling nano-particle chitosan, takes chitosan a big step further. It is actually a further broken-down form of chitosan. Chitosan oligosaccharides (CO) is manufactured from chitosan by an enzymatic process, resulting in a much smaller molecular size that is more easily absorbed by the body, thus the focus of its action is deeper and more therapeutic.

Safety and Clinical Research for the Use of Chitosan

While both chitosan and chitosan oligosaccharides are extremely safe, it is important to note that both are contraindicated for those with shellfish allergies. Both are natural substances and the MicroChitosan we offer at Micro Balance Health products is not manufactured with any synthetic chemicals. Additionally, even at a chitosan oligosaccharide intake of more than 135,000 mg per day for an
average-weight adult human, research has yet to find a potential adverse effect or toxicity.

Animal and human research on chitosan oligosaccharides is abundant. So, far there is evidence for potential health benefits of its use for the following:

– Antibacterial and immunostimulatory effects against infection by Staphylococcus aureus. (1)

– Anti-diabetic effects in non-insulin dependant rats. (2)

– Protection against mercury toxicity. (3)

– Promotion of the growth of friendly bifidobacteria and lactobacillus. In fact, it has been shown to support the growth of almost all bifido- and lactobacillus species. (4)

– Protection for the liver from damage by carbon tetrachloride. (5)

– Prevention of lipid peroxidation, and promotion of activity of antioxidant enzymes to protect the liver from toxicity. (6)

– Chitosan has been shown to be an effective binder of endotoxin; ochratoxin; heavy metals including mercury; as well as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), phthalates, and BPA. (7)

– Enhances detoxification to decrease Herxheimer’s reactions.

How I Use MicroChitosan in My Practice

Most sinus polyps are a result of an immune reaction to mold. MicroChitosan seems to attain high levels in the sinus mucosa and give some protection to the immune reaction to mold. It also has some anti-inflammatory effects in the paranasal sinuses that reduces or eliminates polyps in the sinuses, depending on the amount of fungus in the environmental air. Because we breathe 2,904 gals of air per day, the airborne fungal load in the nose can be substantial and prevent the effectiveness of all treatment modalities, including multiple courses of antibiotics, antifungals, steroids, antihistamines, and surgeries. So in a moldy environment, using the environmental treatment protocol (ETP includes a HEPA air filter, EC3 in EC3 fogger used 3 times per week to mist the environment, EC3 candles which are used in rooms the patients inhabit, EC3 laundry additive to wash clothes) to lower fungal load, all other treatment has a better opportunity to be effective. Below is a photo of before and after ethmoid sinus polyps resolving after MicroChitosan 3 caps twice per day for one month. Of course, the environmental fungal load was addressed in this case or no treatment is effective long term.

To reiterate, while the MicroChitosan was significantly helpful for the resolution and dissolution of the fungus in the sinuses, the most rapid resolution of symptoms and signs in the treatment of mold-related illness is the removal of the antigen(s), fungus, mycotoxins, MVOC’s that are causing the immune reaction from the patient’s environment.

If you are looking for more information on chitosan and its clinical use for a wide array of health concerns, the work of Akira Matsunaga, MD., PhD., is extensive. He used it for years and considers it to be a superior health substance with broad effects on all systems of the body. Dr. Matsunaga found that it strengthened those who were weak, made healthy patients healthier, and improved common daily complaints and the quality of life. He noted that it appears to function in supporting all organ systems. Dr. Matsunaga’s book, Chitosan: The Ultimate Health Builder, is available in paperback and is still a wonderful reference.

1. The antibacterial and immunostimulative effect of chitosan-oligosaccharides against infection by Staphylococcus aureus isolated from bovine mastitis. Moon JS, Kim HK, Koo HC, Joo YS, Nam HM, Park YH, Kang MI. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2007 Mar 15.
2. Antidiabetic effects of chitosan oligosaccharides in neonatal streptozotocin-induced noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in rats. Lee HW, Park YS, Choi JW, Yi SY, Shin WS. Biol Pharm Bull. 2003 Aug;26(8):1100-3.
3. Chitosan oligosaccharide inhibits 203HgCl2-induced genotoxicity in mice: micronuclei occurrence and chromosomal aberration. Yoon HJ, Park HS, Bom HS, Roh YB, Kim JS, Kim YH. Arch Pharm Res. 2005 Sep;28(9):1079-85. Erratum in: Arch Pharm Res. 2005 Oct;28(10):1203.
4. Chitosan oligosaccharides, dp 2-8, have prebiotic effect on the Bifidobacterium bifidium and Lactobacillus sp. Lee HW, Park YS, Jung JS, Shin WS. Anaerobe. 2002 Dec;8(6):319-24.
5. Protective effects of chitosan oligosaccharide and its derivatives against carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage in mice. Yan Y, Wanshun L, Baoqin H, Bing L, Chenwei F. Hepatol Res. 2006 Jul;35(3):178-84. Epub 2006 May 26.
6. Effect of chitosan oligosaccharide on 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin-induced oxidative stress in mice. Shon YH, Park IK, Moon IS, Chang HW, Park IK, Nam KS. Biol Pharm Bull. 2002 Sep;25(9):1161-4.
7. Interaction of bacterial endotoxins with chitosan. Effect of endotoxin structure, chitosan molecular mass, and ionic strength of the solution on the formation of the complex. Davydova VN, Yermak IM, Gorbach VI, Krasikova IN, Solov’eva TF. Biochemistry (Mosc). 2000 Sep;65(9):1082-90.
Did you find this article helpful? We hope so. If you have questions or comments, please write to us below or email us at