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Shark cartilage


What is it?

Shark cartilage (tough elastic tissue that provides support, much as bone does) used for medicine comes primarily from sharks caught in the Pacific Ocean. Several types of extracts are made from shark cartilage including squalamine lactate, AE-941, and U-995.

Shark cartilage is most famously used for cancer, including a type of cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma, that is more common in people with HIV infection. Shark cartilage is also used for arthritis, psoriasis, wound healing, damage to the retina of the eye due to diabetes, and inflammation of the intestine (enteritis).

Some people apply shark cartilage directly to the skin for arthritis and psoriasis.

How effective is it?

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for SHARK CARTILAGE are as follows:

Likely ineffective for...

  • Advanced, previously treated cancers of the breast, colon, lung, prostate, and brain; and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. However, studies of shark cartilage in people with less advanced cancer have not been published.

Insufficient evidence to rate effectiveness for...

  • Kidney cancer. Taking shark cartilage extract AE-941 by mouth seems to increase survival in patients with advanced kidney cancer (renal cell carcinoma). This product has FDA “Orphan Drug status” for renal cell carcinoma. The Orphan Drug law gives drug makers special incentives to study drugs for rare conditions.
  • Psoriasis. Developing research suggests that AE-941 taken by mouth might improve appearance and decrease itching of plaque psoriasis.
  • Osteoarthritis. When applied to the skin (used topically), products containing shark cartilage in combination with chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, and camphor, reportedly reduce arthritis symptoms. However, any symptom relief is most likely due to the effect of camphor and not the other ingredients. Additionally, there's no research showing that shark cartilage is absorbed through the skin.
  • Arthritis.
  • Eye complications.
  • Wound healing.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate shark cartilage for these uses.

How does it work?

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Shark cartilage might help prevent tumor growth.

Are there safety concerns?

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Shark cartilage is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken appropriately by mouth for up to 40 months or applied to the skin for up to eight weeks.

It can cause a bad taste in the mouth, nausea, vomiting, stomach upset, constipation, low blood pressure, dizziness, high blood sugar, high calcium levels, and fatigue. Some products have an unpleasant odor and taste.

Special precautions & warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of shark cartilage during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

High calcium levels (hypercalcemia): Shark cartilage might increase calcium levels, so it should not be used by people whose calcium levels are already too high.

Are there interactions with medications?

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It is not known if this product interacts with any medicines.

Before taking this product, talk with your health professional if you take any medications.

Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?

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Calcium
Shark cartilage might raise calcium levels. There is a concern that using it along with calcium supplements might make calcium levels too high.

Are there interactions with foods?

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Fruit juice
Acidic fruit juice such as orange, apple, grape, or tomato, can lower the strength of shark cartilage as the minutes pass. If shark cartilage is added to a fruit juice, it should be added right before use.

What dose is used?

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The appropriate dose of shark cartilage depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for shark cartilage. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Other names

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AE-941, Cartilage de Requin, Cartilage de Requin du Pacifique, Cartilago de Tiburon, Collagène Marin, Extrait de Cartilage de Requin, Liquide de Cartilage Marin, Marine Collagen, Marine Liquid Cartilage, MSI-1256F, Neovastat, Pacific Shark Cartilage, Poudre de Cartilage de Requin, Shark Cartilage Powder, Shark Cartilage Extract, Sphyrna lewini, Squalus acanthias.

Methodology

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To learn more about how this article was written, please see the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database methodology.methodology (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/methodology.html).

References

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To see all references for the Shark cartilage page, please go to http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/909.html.

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Page last updated: 08 September 2014