Shark Cartilage medical use information - A discussion of bovine cartilage and shark liver oil - Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Feb 6 2016

Articular cartilage makes possible the painless, low-friction movement of synovial joints. Synovial joints are elegant, critically important, and deceptively simple biomechanical structures. They are comprised of articular cartilage that covers each end of the opposing skeletal elements, synovial fluid that lubricates and nourishes the tissues, ligaments that hold the skeletal elements in check, and a fibrous capsule that insulates the joints from surrounding tissues.
Cartilage tissue is a type of connective tissue that literally forms the biological glue and twine that holds your body together. Cartilage forms the cushions that keep your bones from grinding against each other. Even your nose is made largely of cartilage. Cartilage is found in almost all joints including the knee, hip, elbows, and shoulders.

Shark and Bovine Cartilage supplements
Cartilage, derived from shark and bovine (cow) sources, is a type of connective tissue comprised of mucopolysaccharides, protein substances, calcium, sulfur, and collagen. Early research in the 1950s and 1960s, using chips of bovine cartilage inserted into wounds, demonstrated that cartilage enhances wound healing. Since then, cartilage has been investigated for its potential role in regulating immune function and stopping the growth of tumors. The reported ability of shark cartilage to inhibit angiogenesis (the growth of new blood vessels) is hypothesized to be beneficial in halting the growth and spread of cancer. A few studies suggest that people with cancer may benefit from cartilage supplements; however, well-designed research yielded negative results, and many experts question the use of shark cartilage in this regard. A similar situation is seen with the use of cartilage in people with osteoarthritis. Bovine cartilage is typically recommended at 3 grams three times per day. Shark cartilage is typically taken in much higher amounts - 30 to 60 grams per day. These amounts are based on animal and anecdotal evidence and their safety and efficacy have not been confirmed by controlled clinical trials. Not only is toxicity information on this amount of shark cartilage lacking, but the amount of calcium to be found in this amount of shark cartilage exceeds the 2 grams per day that is commonly considered to be the upper limit of safe intake.

I saw on your website that shark cartilage promotes wound healing, but also slows down angiogenisis. Isn't angiogenesis needed for wound healing? I thought we needed new blood vessels to fully heal?
   It is not clear what the mechanism of would healing is with this product, apparently it acted locally in some way, perhaps in a way different than blood vessel effect? Anyway more studies are needed to determine what effect this product has on wound healing and cancer treatment.

Ann Ital Chir. 2013. The healing effect of shark cartilage in rabbits after colonic anastomosis. Shark cartilage has anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-angiogenic, anti-tumoral, and immunomodulatory properties. We studied the effect of shark cartilage on the healing of colonic anastomoses, which are among the gastrointestinal system anastomoses that most commonly cause leakage. Rabbits were divided into two groups of seven as the study and control groups. A normal diet was given to both groups before and after right colonic anastomosis. Shark cartilage tablets were given orally to the study group for five days before and after the anastomosis. Bursting pressures, hydroxyproline levels and translocation of the intestinal flora in anastomosis region were evaluated on the 6th day by operating on both groups. Bursting pressure and hydroxproline levels were higher in the experimental group compared to the control group (p<0.05). An increase in connective tissue and vascularization without growth of microorganisms was observed in the experimental group on microbiological examination. Shark cartilage given orally to rabbits increased anastomotic healing and did not cause serious consequences such as bacterial translocation.

Shark cartilage and lung cancer
The addition of the shark cartilage extract Neovastat to standard chemotherapy and radiation does not improve survival in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In laboratory studies, Neovastat blocked tumor growth, the spread of cancer cells and the formation of blood vessels that supply the cancer. The results of phase I/II studies suggested that survival was improved in NSCLC patients treated with Neovastat. A much larger, phase III study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and Aeterna Zentaris, the Canadian biopharmaceutical company that makes Neovastat, involved 384 patients with inoperable advanced stage NSCLC.

Shark cartilage for osteoarthritis
A combination supplement of 1200 mg glucosamine hydrochloride, 300 mg shark cartilage (consisting of about 100 mg of chondroitin), and 45 mg of quercetin, taken daily, was found to be helpful as a treatment for osteoarthritis.

Shark liver oil ingredients
Shark liver oil is a source of alkylglycerols and squalene. along with omega-3 fatty acids. The use of shark liver oil may improve sperm motility and fertility.

What is cartilage made of?
Cartilage is a form of connective tissue but denser. It also contains cells (chondrocytes), fibers and a lot of proteoglycans. Chondrocytes are the cells that are responsible for the making and maintenance of the ground substance (matrix) in cartilage, and they do so under difficult conditions of lacking a direct blood supply, and under low oxygen levels. The number of chondrocytes in cartilage tissue decreases with age. The composition of adult articular cartilage consists mostly of water (about 70-80%), along with collagen fibrils (about 10-15%), proteoglycans (about 5 to 10%), and various other proteins. Of the three most prevalent components of human cartilage (water, proteoglycans and collagen) it appears that proteoglycans are the most affected by nutritional supplements.

Where is cartilage found?
Cartilage is a padding that lines the ends of bones that form joints. For instance, the bottom tip of the femur (thighbone) has cartilage that forms a joint with the top part of the tibial bone in the leg, which also is made of cartilage, thus forming the knee joint. Thus, every time you take a step, the cartilage absorbs the pressure exerted on the knee joint. The parts of cartilage that have the ability to absorb this pressure are the fibers and proteoglycans. The many biochemical and metabolic abnormalities that can occur in cartilage tissue with osteoarthritis, may well explain why numerous nutritional approaches need to be addressed. Although glucosamine is an important nutrient, we shouldn’t think that it could solve all the problems of a complex tissue, as is cartilage. Proper cartilage nutrition would consist of a cocktail of numerous nutrients that, when combined, create synergistic healing.

Shark cartilage, fin, and shark liver oil questions
Q. I'm a journalist and historian and a contributing writer for The History Channel Magazine. I'm writing a history of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, based in Monterey, CA. The aquarium's stated mission is "to inspire conservation of the oceans." In this regard, it seeks to discourage such activities as the de-finning of sharks by fishermen to obtain fins for shark fin soup. Sharks are being killed by the thousands for this purpose, and may, in some parts of the world, be endangered. The impact of the extinction of a top-of-the-line predator may be substantial. Shark fin soup is regarded as an aphrodisiac and tonic by some people. I would like to include in my book a candid, authoritative quote on this topic by a recognized expert. I turn to you with the following questions. Can you comment on the supposed aphrodisiac qualities of shark fin soup? Is it your opinion that there are many products, readily available, that promote sexual desire and capacity more effectively than shark fin soup? Thanks for reading this note. Congratulations to you on a fine pursuit of knowledge.
   A. I am not familiar with shark fin soup but I am 100 certain that there are dozens of herbs that have potent aphrodisiac qualities and they are readily available and not endangered. Therefore, if it is true that sharks are being killed in excessive amounts for the purpose of shark fin soup aphrodisiac benefits, then it would be an environmentally smart option to use the readily available aphrodisiac herbs as a great substitute. These aphrodisiac herbs are so potent that I cannot imagine the need to kill sharks for sexual enhancement purposes.
   By the way, I am a big fan of The History Channel and an amateur history buff and have an interest of all time periods, from the Minoan culture to current times. I TIVO shows on THC all the time.

Q. Do you have any information or opinion on shark liver oil? Recently read lengthy article leading me to believe it worthy of discussion.
   A. Shark liver oil is a source of alkylglycerols and squalene. along with omega-3 fatty acids and thus could have positive health benefits. Future human research would give us a better understanding of shark liver oil in health and disease.