Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2014 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified health care professional before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
Uses based on scientific evidence
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare professional.
Derivatives of shark cartilage, such as AE-941, have been shown to reduce inflammatory responses. It has been proposed that shark cartilage, as an agent that blocks new blood vessel growth, may have potency against inflammatory conditions. Chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate, components of shark cartilage, may be too low in shark cartilage preparations for clinical benefit. There is insufficient data on the use of shark cartilage for inflammatory joint diseases, such as arthritis.
Macular degeneration (eye disorder leading to vision loss)
Early evidence suggests that shark cartilage may improve or stabilize vision in people with an eye disease that leads to loss of vision. Well-designed studies are required.
There is insufficient research on the use of shark cartilage as a pain relieving agent. Although not well studied in humans, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties of shark cartilage have been demonstrated.
Skin inflammatory conditions
There is insufficient data on the use of shark cartilage in the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions. The application of a shark cartilage preparation (Neovastat®) resulted in the reduction of skin irritation on the forearms of people. Several studies have been undertaken in people with skin conditions. Although promising, larger studies for this indication are needed.
Promotion of new blood vessels is necessary for tumors to grow and spread. Enthusiasm about shark cartilage has stemmed from evidence of its properties that block new blood vessel growth and from several poor-quality studies of people with numerous types of cancer. However, several studies of shark cartilage lacked evidence of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In the United States, shark cartilage products cannot claim to cure cancer, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent warning letters to companies not to promote products in this way. Without further evidence from well-designed human trials, it remains unclear if shark cartilage is of any benefit in cancer.
*Key to grades:
A: Strong scientific evidence for this use;B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use;D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work);F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
For full grading rationale, click here.
Uses based on tradition or theory
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional
Allergic skin rashes, ankylosing spondylitis (spinal arthritis), anti-inflammatory, atherosclerosis (clogged arteries), bacterial infections, contact dermatitis, degenerative diseases (chronic), diabetic retinopathy (retina damage due to diabetes), diarrhea, fungal infections, glaucoma, immune system stimulant, intestinal disorders, Kaposi's sarcoma, kidney disease, kidney stones, lupus, nervous system disorders, osteoporosis, Reiter's syndrome (arthritis in response to infection), sarcoidosis (chronic lung disease), scar healing, Sjogren's syndrome (autoimmune disorder affecting the tear and saliva glands), skin rash, wound healing, wrinkle prevention.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare professional before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare professional immediately if you experience side effects.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare professional before starting a new therapy.
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
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