People have used shark cartilage for many years as a supplement to improve the joint health. Athletes have been able to benefit from its properties in order to avoid their deterioration due to an excess of physical exercise. However, many studies have proven that this product can treat other diseases, such as diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease.
- 1. What is Shark Cartilage?
- 2. Origin of the use of Shark Cartilage
- 3. Shark Cartilage Certification
- 4. What is Shark Cartilage used for?
- 5. Properties of Shark Cartilage:
- 6. Benefits of Shark Cartilage
- 7. How to take Shark Cartilage
- 8. Shark cartilage and joints
- 9. Chondroitin from Shark Cartilage
- 10. Who can benefit from Shark Cartilage?
- 11. Possible side effects
- 12. Studies and References
- 13. Related Entries:
What is Shark Cartilage?
The shark skeleton is made up of cartilage (around a 6-8% of its weight). Sharks do not have a calcium skeleton like human beings or other fish.
Sharks have cartilage instead of bones in order to weigh less. It allows them to go up and down in the water more quickly. Moreover, the cartilage provides them a great flexibility that allows them to bend more than the fish that they eat. This improves their ability to hunt, since their tale can move faster to swim through the water.
Shark fin and cartilage have been used in Asia for centuries because they are a source of protein, mucopolysaccharides (gel-like substances from the cells), calcium and phosphorus. They mainly used them to cook soups.
Many studies have proven the benefits of shark cartilage to treat and prevent bone and skin diseases. There are even theories about their ability to inhibit the onset of tumors and its efficacy in cancer therapies.
It mainly contains, apart from collagen and chondroitin sulfate, a series of complex carbs called mucopolysaccharides. These are known for being a powerful remedy against the bacteria in the dermis and mucosa. That is why the cartilage has great therapeutic properties.
Some of the benefits of these products are the fact that they stimulate the anti-body production, improving our immune system. It is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that supports the tissue recovery. That is the reason why it is recommended when we suffer arthritis. Moreover, it helps to treat diseases such as psoriasis and retinopathy due to its regenerating effects.
Specially those who suffer joint problems (rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, deterioration,…). Many performance athletes use it to keep their joints on point, preventing any kind of injury. The regular intake of shark cartilage significantly supports those who have lost joint motility and those who suffer tendinitis and other injuries. Because the great protein and nutrient supply from shark cartilage relieves the pain caused by these disorders and reverts the degenerative and inflammatory processes.
Origin of the use of Shark Cartilage
Due to its benefits for our health, shark cartilage has always been present in traditional Asian gastronomy. In fact, one of the most popular Chinese recipes is shark fin soup. In the last few years, there has been a lot of controversy due to the fact that this animal was being excessively hunted in Japan and China. According to the reports, they would cut the fins of the shark and throw it back into the sea, which resulted in the death of the animal. However, thanks to the fact the people are aware of this issue has reduced the consumption of this ingredient in Asia. In some places, sharks are listed as an endangered species.
Currently, shark cartilage is one of the most popular supplements in the United States and Europe. For example, there were around 40 brands sold just in 1995. At the beginning, it was used to treat cancer in the 80s after a series of unreliable studies were published. They claimed that shark cartilage had “miraculous” effects.
Shark Cartilage Certification
What is Shark Cartilage used for?
Traditionally, the benefits related to the intake of shark cartilage products-supplements have been:
Shark cartilage prevents the joint pain and inflammation. These products help to lubricate the joints by stimulating the release of synovial fluid. That is why it is so helpful for athletes, since it can prevent joint injuries caused by overexercising.
Strengthening the immune system
Thanks to its calcium and protein supply, taking shark cartilage products can help to significantly reinforce the bone system in a natural way. In fact, it is useful for the treatment against serious bone disorders, such as osteoporosis.
Against asthma, emphysema or hemorrhoids
These disorders are usually related to molecular changes on the tissues of the affected organs. This is when shark cartilage comes into play. In fact, the glycosaminoglycans from shark cartilage can regenerate any kind of tissue, avoiding deformities and even chronic diseases, as we have previously seen.
Relieves the psoriasis
Shark cartilage products helps to relieve this disease caused by an abnormal formation of blood vessels on the skin. There are studies and research that claim that taking shark cartilage regulates the growth of blood vessels reducing their excessive growth.
Some scientific studies have informed that the shark cartilage can help to inhibit the growth of certain types of cancer.
Currently, people use shark cartilage products to fight against breast, ovary and pancreas cancer. In addition, it can support other treatments against cancer cells.
Properties of Shark Cartilage:
We have discussed some of the properties of shark cartilage products-supplements, but we can also add:
- Vitamins, mainly vitamin C which supports the proper formation of collagen for the cartilage.
- Magnesium and manganese, for the proper maintenance of the bones.
- Copper, for the formation of connective tissue.
- Magnesium, to support the proper functioning of the muscles.
- Selenium, to protect the cells against the oxidative damage.
So, from this, we can say that shark cartilage products are:
- Powerful natural anti-inflammatory agents.
- Immune systemresponse enhancers.
- Angiogenic inhibitors, they avoid the formation of new blood vessels. In fact, this is one of the properties to prevent and treat cancer tumors since the blood vessels are the ones that feed them.
- Chondroitin sulfate, one of its main components, along with glucosamine, is in charge of providing viscosity to the synovial fluid. This substances “buffers” the impact on the joints.
100g of natural shark cartilage provide:
- 1.63g of fat / 0.1 saturated fats
- 24.7g of carbohydrates
- 1.3g of sugar
- 21.5g of protein
- 0.03 of salt
- 197.2ug of vitamin D
Benefits of Shark Cartilage
- Improving the muscle growth and strengthens the joints thanks to its protein content. Athletes take it to strengthen their joints and muscles.
- Anti-inflammatory properties, beneficial for the joints by relieving the pain and regenerating tissues.
- Relieving the pain of arthritis. The daily intake of shark cartilage helps to relieve the pain caused by arthritis. It regenerates the tissues that have been damaged by the disease.
- Decreasing the psoriasis by inhibiting the formation of abnormal blood vessels.
- Strengthening the immune system with a protein and calcium supply.
- Protecting the digestive system by fixing the damage of the stomach walls, which in turn improves the digestions.
- Supporting the treatment for glaucoma, a disease that attacks the eyes by increasing the pressure on the optic nerve.
- Helping to heal asthma, eczema, emphysema and hemorrhoids. The rest of diseases are related to molecular changes, since it contains a great mucopolysaccharide content.
How to take Shark Cartilage
Nowadays, there are many shark cartilage formats available. For years, the most common product has been capsules or tablets, available in parapharmacies and herbalist’s shops. However, now we can find more sophisticated products.
One of them are creams made of shark cartilage. The raw ingredient is dried and cleaned to remove all the unnecessary parts that will provide less benefits. Moreover, creams are rich in hyaluronic acid. Creams are good anti-inflammatory products and, unlike capsules, they do not need an intake routine which is why their effects and results are different.
A third format, which is more demanded in the market, is the shark cartilage oil. Particularly, it is used to treat some types of cancer and leukemia. Moreover, it can be used for other more common diseases like the flu or common colds. It is believed that it is a powerful immune system stimulator. This us why it is quite useful when you feel like your defenses are low, since it increases the amount of white cells.
It is important to follow the instructions of the product, since they always provide necessary information. If you have any doubt, always consult it with your doctor or an specialist. The last tip when it comes to its intake is that you should not take it with juice. This is due to the fact that it can break down some components and lose effectiveness, since the fruit can contain different acids.
Shark cartilage and joints
Shark cartilage supplements are rich in calcium, phosphorus and chondroitin. The last one is essential for our joint health. It is a type of GAG from the body, more specifically, inside the cartilage.
The body uses it to rebuild the cartilage directly. Chondroitin absorbs water, which is why it keeps the cartilage hydrated. The water also takes the nutrients to the joint and keeps the cartilage hydrated, which improves its buffering effect on the impacts.
Chondroitin from Shark Cartilage
Chondroitin is a natural substance present in the human body and one of the main components of cartilage. It helps to build the connective tissue of the entire body, including the joints and gastrointestinal tract. Due to the fact that it retains water, it helps to lubricate the tissues and the joints, providing flexibility. The name of synthetic chondroitin is chondroitin sulfate. This element is found in shark cartilage products, since it is a combination that improves their absorption.
Chondroitin supplements have many different names. Depending on the specific formula: glucosamine chondroitin, glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate.
What are the tasks of Chondroitin or Glucosamine?
Chondroitin or glucosamine are important components in the extracellular matrix. It binds sugar and protein molecules while playing an important role in preserving the structural integrity of the tissues. Its main benefit and action mechanism consists of stimulating the cartilage regeneration. This is due to the fact that it is the connective tissue that buffers the bone endings inside the joints.
Chondroitin contains sulfate groups which are strongly packed to form a barrier. In this way, it is capable of resisting the compression, impact and even electrostatic discharges that damage the tissue. Technically, chondroitin is a form of complex carbohydrate. This allows it to buffer and absorb water, which is crucial for the joint movement without friction. That is the reason why a chondroitin loss in the cartilage can trigger osteoarthritis, which deteriorates the joints.
It is important to form tissue in other parts of the body, including the dermis, the gastrointestinal tract and the brain. Regarding the brain extracellular matrix, it helps to stabilize the brain synapses and protect the brain against injuries. After brain damage, the chondroitin levels increase quickly to create new tissue and replace the damaged ones.
Who can benefit from Shark Cartilage?
- People with bone, joint and circulatory problems
- Lung diseases such as asthma
- Those who have hemorrhoids thanks to its anti-inflammatory effect
- All those who have more chances of producing cancer cells
- Support against glaucoma
- Patients affected by digestive problems
- If you want improve your immune system
- Athletes or people who want to increase their muscle growth
Possible side effects
In spite of being a natural supplement, there are some people who experiences side effects. But this happens when the intake of shark cartilage goes on for a long time. Some of the most common ones are:
- Introducing toxins such as BMAA, which trigger degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer
- Stomach discomfort
- Low blood pressure
- High blood sugar levels
- A high calcium level
The Arthritis Foundation points out that the products-supplements may not work for all the patients. But “if you have improved by taking this type of supplements, you should not stop using them. They are safe in the long term.”
Studies and References
- Li Q, Li G, Zhao X, Shan X, Cai C, Zhao J, Zhang F, Linhardt RJ, Yu G. Structural Characterization and Interaction with RCA120 of a Highly Sulfated Keratan Sulfate from Blue Shark (Prionace glauca) Cartilage. Mar Drugs. 2018 Apr 14;16(4). pii: E128. doi: 10.3390/md16040128.
- Chondroitin. Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2006-.
- Cem Gabay, Carole Medinger-Sadowski, Danielle Gascon, Frank Kolo, Axel Finckh. Symptomatic effects of chondroitin 4 and chondroitin 6 sulfate on hand osteoarthritis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial at a single center. First published: 06 September 2011 https://doi.org/10.1002/art.30574 Cited by: 40
- Marc C. Hochberg, Roy D. Altman, Karine Toupin April, Maria Benkhalti, Gordon Guyatt, Jessie Macgowan, Tanveer Tweheed, Vivian Welch, George Wells, Peter Tugwell. American College of Rheumatology 2012 Recommendations for the Use of Nonpharmacologic and Pharmacologic Therapies in Osteoarthritis of the Hand, Hip, and Knee. Arthritis Care & Research Vol. 64, No. 4, April 2012, pp 465– 474 DOI 10.1002/acr.21596
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