Shark Cartilage

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-17 (EDT)

See Also Food Supplements

The use of cartilage as a supplement was introduced because cartilage is a tissue that lacks blood vessels and rarely develops malignancies. Angiogenesis, or the process of developing new blood vessels, is now recognized as part of several pathological conditions such as the development of solid tumours, proliferative retinopathy, neovascular glaucoma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Initial studies demonstrating the inhibition of new blood vessel growth and tumour growth inhibition were done on rats using isolations from scapular cartilage of calves. However, cartilage makes up only about 0.6% of the total body weight of a calf and 6% of the total body weight of a shark, thus sharks have become a more viable resource for obtaining cartilage. Much research is going into the area of cancer treatment and the use of shark cartilage due to its angiogenesis inhibiting activity. In addition, there is some evidence to suggest that shark cartilage is also antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiatherogenic but these actions are so far poorly supported.

Shark cartilage contains many compounds including collagen, proteoglycans, glycosaminoglycans such as chondroitin sulfate, calcium, phosphate, water, and other molecules.[1].


  • Cancer: In vitro and animal studies have shown that shark cartilage provides some anti-angiogenic activity and may be useful in the treatment of cancer. However, no human studies are available to support this finding.
  • Osteoarthritis: Due to the content of chondroitin suflate, shark cartilage has been used for the treatment of osteoarthritis. It also displays some anti-inflammtory effects.

Prescribing Considerations

The recommended dosages have not yet been established. To determine what your specific requirements are talk to your naturopathic doctor or other trained medical professional.

  • Shark cartilage supplements are available in powders, tablets, and capsules.


  • General Adverse Effects
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, bloating, and constipation may occur. There has been one suspected report of hepatitis associated with the use of shark cartilage.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
  • Shark cartilage should be avoided in this population.
  • Contraindications
  • hypersensitivity to any component of shark cartilage; hypercalcemia
  • Precautions
  • renal failure or liver failure
  • in individuals with cancer shark cartilage is best used under the medical supervision of a trained professional.


  1. Hendler Sheldon, Rorvik David (Editors) (2001) PDR for Nutritional Supplements, Medical Economics Company Inc.