Peer Reviewed


Cartilage supplements come from cows (bovine cartilage) or sharks (shark cartilage). Human cartilage is found in the body’s joints, nose, ears, and knees. Cartilage is a connective tissue that coats joints allowing for friction-free movement. It also creates the shape of the ear and nose.
Lemon SharkAt one time, cartilage was used to treat malignant tumors (eg, cancer of the lung, skin, breast). The protein in shark cartilage is thought to prevent growth of new blood vessels necessary for tumor growth. Studies have shown that shark cartilage has no impact on tumor progression, and many patients had adverse side effects from using it.

Cartilage may help treat rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, ulcerative colitis, pain and inflammation. It may also treat psoriasis, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration.

Sources of Cartilage
Cartilage may be purchased in capsule or powdered form. Read labeling carefully to insure the product is 100% pure shark cartilage. The product should be white in color. If not, it is not pure and should not be ingested.

As a dietary supplement 3,000 to 4,750-mg can be taken daily. Cartilage can also be administered by enema.

Guidelines and Cautions
Do not give cartilage to children, pregnant women, or anyone who has recently undergone surgery or survived a heart attack. Although there are no known cartilage/medication interactions, consult with a medical professional prior to taking this product.

Include magnesium and potassium for mineral balance if taking large amounts of shark cartilage.

Disclaimer: Many people report feeling improvement in their condition and/or general well-being taking dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements. The Editorial Board of, however, cannot endorse such products since most lack peer-reviewed scientific validation of their claims. In most cases an appropriate diet and a "multiple vitamin" will provide the necessary dietary supplements for most individuals. Prior to taking additional dietary, vitamin, mineral, and/or herbal supplements it is recommended that patients consult with their personal physician to discuss their specific supplement requirements.

Updated on: 03/16/16
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George D. Picetti, III, MD
In reviewing the above supplements several observations were noted. First of all there are no scientific papers that review the efficacy of these supplements in refereed journals. Therefore we are not able to comment on how effective they are on a scientific level. These supplements are not held to the same standards as other medications, and thus the dose and concentration may differ among different brands or companies. Although many people claim to have good results from taking these and other supplements, it is always best to discuss this with your doctor before taking these supplements. If you are taking any supplement and are scheduled for surgery, it is imperative that you tell your surgeon and anesthesiologist. Some of these supplements can cause significant changes in your body’s chemical functions, such as slowing blood clot formation, which can be a serious problem during surgery.
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