Can Chitosan Relieve Your Lyme Disease Symptoms?

Recently, a friend of mine was talking to someone he knows with Lyme disease who relayed to him how was slowly getting better (less symptoms) by taking a natural supplement called chitosan. In the back of my mind, I remembered reading about this supplement in Bryan Rosner’s book When Antibiotics Fail: Lyme Disease and Rife Machines, with Critical Evaluation of Leading Alternative Therapies, and so began to comb the internet to see what I could find on chitosan and Lyme disease.

Before I tell you why it may be of tremendous importance for those with Lyme disease and other chronic illnesses, I should tell you what chitosan is!

What Is Chitosan & Why Might It Help My Lyme Disease Symptoms?

Chitosan is a polysaccharide – a type of dietary fiber – that is found in chitin (the structural element in the exoskeleton of sea crustaceans – think shrimp, crab, etc.) In other words, chitosan is made from the shells of crustaceans (if you are allergic to shellfish, then you should definitely NOT try this product). Also, chitosan has been found not to contain any appreciable amounts toxic minerals such as mercury as would be a concern for anything coming from the sea.

Toxins given off by organisms – not the organisms themselves – are actually the cause of the symptoms seen with many infectious diseases. Although a few studies have shown that Borrelia burgdorferi do indeed give off neurotoxins, there are those who argue against this concept. Doctor Burrascano, a much lauded Lyme-literate doctor, and former Lyme disease sufferer, had this to say about neurotoxins and Lyme disease: “It has been said that the longer one is ill with Lyme, the more neurotoxin is present in the body. It probably is stored in fatty tissues, and once present, persists for a very long time. This may be because of enterohepatic circulation, where the toxin is excreted via the bile into the intestinal tract, but then is reabsorbed from the intestinal tract back into the blood stream. This forms the basis for treatment.”

So, let’s examine why chitosan may be the answer to this seemingly incurable problem. Because chitosan has a positive charge, it binds to lipids (fat) from the digestive system and limits their absorption in the body (thus reducing cholesterol and aiding in weight loss), but also fat-soluble toxins, such as heavy metals and neurotoxins given off by organisms such as the Lyme spirochete. If you have heard of people taking the medication cholestyramine (Questran) to lower their cholesterol and/or help clear neurotoxins from the body by preventing their recirculation in the blood stream due to enterohepatic circulation, chitosan is acting in a similar manner, and, yet, chitosan is natural – bonus! – and is without the potential for serious side effects.

Can Chitosan Mollify My Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction?

A Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction is a temporary worsening of symptoms due to organisms dying and thus releasing more of their toxins into your blood stream. Even though chitosan can and should be used during the regular course of the illness, it seems to be a great supplement for reducing toxin-related herxheimer reactions as it helps remove neurotoxins from the body. So if you are using antibiotics and/or a rife machine to treat Lyme disease, chitosan may be a good supplement to add.

Suggested Daily Dose of Chitosan

As a dietary supplement, it is suggested that one takes either 1 capsule 3 x day or 2 capsules twice a day. You may need to take more or less to achieve symptom relief as each person’s response will be unique – so if 4 capsules a day don’t do the trick, try slowly increasing the dose and see what happens. The label says to always take the capsule(s) with 8 ounces of water thirty to forty minutes prior to a meal or 2 hours after a meal (or as directed by a healthcare practitioner).

From what I have read, you only want to take NanoTekTM chitosan (Chitosan oligosaccharides). The best brands who make this are Nutricology and Allergy Research Group. Nutricology is the least expensive (and is manufactured by Allergy Research Group incidentally) – various online supplement stores as well as Life Extension and Amazon carry it: Nutricology Chitosan, Vegicaps, 90-Count.

My Results From Supplementing With Chitosan

When I began taking chitosan – at the estimated full dose (4 capsules a day) my balance improved, the internal vibrating sensation I had 24/7/365 became less intense, and I definitely felt a bit less “toxic”!! I would probably add this to my desert island list of supplements (which includes selenium, grapefruit seed extract, zinc, vitamin C and magnesium).

Additional reading on chitosan’s anti-bacterial effect:

Antibacterial effects of chitosan solution against Legionella pneumophila, Escherichia coli, and Staphylococcus aureus.

Chitosan as an antimicrobial agent

“Chitosan is antimicrobial against a wide range of target organisms. Activity varies considerable with the type of chitosan, the target organism and the environment in which it is applied. Consequently, literature reports vary somewhat and are, occasionally, contradictory. But generally speaking, yeasts and moulds are the most sensitive group, followed by Gram-positive bacteria and finally Gram-negative bacteria…”

Relationship between antibacterial activity of chitosan and surface characteristics of cell wall


4 comments for “Can Chitosan Relieve Your Lyme Disease Symptoms?

  1. John23
    November 7, 2011 at 7:52 am

    Is the Chitosan continuing to help you with the herxs? Have you noticed any unwanted effects from it? Thanks!

    • Danielle
      November 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm

      Hi John,
      Yes, it really did help some. The only thing I noticed was increased bruising on my legs sometimes when I took it, so it may be preventing the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins or the bruising was just from the herx itself…hopefully!

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