How to Take It
Cartilage should not be taken by children under 18 years of age.
For adults 18 years and older: Doses of 200 - 2,000 mg per kilogram of body weight, 2 - 3 times a day, have been used. Ask your health care provider for the best dosage.
Alternative NamesShark cartilage
Cartilage is a type of connective tissue consisting of cells called chondrocytes and a tough, flexible matrix made of collagen, protein, and sugar. Most cartilage is converted to bone as an animal matures, but some cartilage remains in the nose and ears, as well as joints such as the knees, hips, shoulders, and fingers.
For many years, scientists have investigated bovine cartilage (cartilage derived from cows) and shark cartilage as treatments for cancer, psoriasis, arthritis, and a number of other medical conditions. The interest in cartilage as a treatment for cancer arose, at least in part, from the mistaken belief that sharks (whose skeletons consist primarily of cartilage) are not affected by cancer. This assumption proved to be untrue, however, and studies in humans have yet to demonstrate that shark cartilage reverses, prevents, or even slows cancerous tumor growth.
Because of the potential for side effects and possible interactions with medications, you should take dietary supplements only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider.
Shark and bovine cartilage should always be purchased from a reputable manufacturer to reduce the risk of contamination. Check labels carefully and purchase only supplements that contain 100% pure shark cartilage.
There has been at least one case of hepatitis reported from taking shark cartilage.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, and individuals recovering from surgery or a heart attack should not take cartilage supplements.
Cartilage should never be used as a substitute for conventional cancer therapies.
Shark cartilage products may contain high levels of calcium, which may be harmful to patients with kidney disease, abnormal heart rhythms, a tendency to form kidney stones, and those with cancers that raise calcium levels.
Shark cartilage may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a health care provider, and medication adjustments may be necessary.
Acidic fruit juices, such as apple, grape, or cranberry, may reduce the absorption of shark cartilage taken by mouth.
If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use cartilage supplements without first talking to your health care provider.
Thiazide diuretics -- Cartilage contains high amounts of calcium. Thiazide diuretics, such as hydrochlorothiazide, can raise calcium levels in the blood. Therefore, using cartilage supplements together with this type of diuretic could lead to dangerously high levels of calcium.
Calcium supplements -- Taking shark cartilage together with calcium supplements may lead to increased calcium levels in the blood.
Blood sugar lowering medications and insulin -- Shark cartilage may lower blood sugar levels, potentially decreasing the amount of blood sugar lowering medications or insulin needed. Use shark cartilage only under the supervision of a health care provider if you take blood sugar lowering medications or insulin.
Claims that cartilage may be of some medical value date back to 1954. Laboratory studies show that substances in cartilage (particularly shark cartilage) may reduce inflammation associated with arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis), stimulate the immune system, and relieve pain. Whether these beneficial properties apply to people has not been proven in scientific studies. Cartilage does appear to provide some benefits for the following health conditions:
Preliminary clinical evidence suggests that extracts of shark cartilage may reduce inflammation from psoriasis (a skin disorder that appears as raised, reddish-pink areas covered with silvery scales and red borders).
Two components of cartilage, glucosamine and chondroitin (although not specifically cartilage supplements), have been shown to decrease pain, improve range of motion, reduce swelling, enhance walking pace, and slow the progression of osteoarthritis (not rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune condition) in some types of patients. Studies are currently underway to determine if these supplements are safe and effective when taken for long periods of time.
Despite a lack of substantial scientific evidence, shark cartilage has also been widely used as an alternative treatment for cancer. Because cartilage cells do not have any blood vessels, some researchers speculate that they produce substances that inhibit blood vessel formation. Cancerous tumors rely on blood vessels to survive because blood provides oxygen and nutrients necessary for their growth. The possibility that cartilage could stop the formation of blood vessels and "starve" cancerous tumors of necessary oxygen and nutrients has led to theories regarding the use of this supplement as a treatment for cancer.
Although many clinical studies have been conducted on cartilage as a treatment for cancer, only a few have been published in scientific journals and none have reported any benefit in using cartilage supplements for cancer (including breast, colon, lung, prostate, brain, and lymphoma). According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the evidence so far is inconclusive regarding the effectiveness of cartilage as a cancer treatment in humans. In fact, the NCI halted their own research regarding cartilage supplementation because the preparations were contaminated, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken legal action against several companies selling cartilage products as a "cancer cure."
Cartilage is not available through dietary sources. It can be obtained only though commercial preparations.
Cartilage is available in powdered form or in capsules that contain the powder. It is also available as a topical cream. Most cartilage supplements are made from bovine (cow) or shark sources.
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