TOC  |    Herbal Medicine    
Herbal Medicine                                            

Shark Cartilage

Be aware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and dietary supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products containing or claiming to contain shark cartilage. Decisions to use herbs or supplements should be carefully considered. Individuals using prescription drugs should discuss taking herbs or supplements with their pharmacists or health care providers before starting.


Scientists have studied shark cartilage for the following health problems:

Historically, it was thought that sharks did not get cancer (we know now that this is not true). Therefore, it was thought that taking shark cartilage supplements may work against cancer. There have been several studies using shark cartilage in humans with various types of cancer, and most of the current evidence shows shark cartilage may have some efficacy in preventing angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels by the tumor that supports growth and spread of cancer to other parts of the body). A randomized, controlled, multicenter trial reported a significantly longer survival time in patients receiving shark cartilage at a higher dose than at a lower dose. The shark cartilage was in the form of Neovastat, an orally active extract from shark cartilage tissue, but the amount of shark cartilage provided in the doses given in the study was not indicated. This study included only 22 patients in the analysis, even though 144 were given the drug. Currently, many animal studies and studies done in test tubes suggest shark cartilage would be effective in preventing angiogenesis. However, larger studies need to be done in humans before recommendations can be made. Possible forms of cancer that may respond to treatment with shark cartilage include kidney cancer, lung cancer and multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow), but safety and efficacy have not been confirmed. Check with your doctor and pharmacist before taking shark cartilage.
Researchers have tested shark cartilage for psoriasis, both by mouth and on the skin as a cream. These studies have been small and low quality. At this time, there is no reliable evidence to recommend shark cartilage for psoriasis.
Macular degeneration
One small study using shark cartilage in patients with macular degeneration suggested good results. More studies are needed before a recommendation can be made.
Animal studies suggest that shark cartilage may decrease inflammation and pain, but there are no reliable studies in humans.

Unproven Uses    

Shark cartilage has been suggested for many other uses, based on tradition or on scientific theories. However, these uses have not been thoroughly studied in humans, and there is limited scientific evidence about safety or effectiveness. Some of these suggested uses are for conditions that are potentially very serious and even life-threatening. You should consult a health care provider before using shark cartilage for any unproven use.

Atherosclerosis (clogged arteries)
Bacterial infections
Diabetic retinopathy
Fungal infections
Immune system stimulant
Kaposi's sarcoma
Kidney disease
Reiter's syndrome
Rheumatoid arthritis
Sjogren's syndrome
Skin rash

Potential Dangers    


Side Effects

Pregnancy And Breast-Feeding


Interactions with drugs, herbs and other supplements have not been thoroughly studied. The interactions listed below have been reported in scientific publications. If you are taking prescription drugs, speak with your health care provider or pharmacist before using herbs or dietary supplements.

Interactions With Drugs

Interactions With Herbs And Dietary Supplements

Shark cartilage may lower blood sugar levels. People using other herbs or supplements that may alter blood sugar levels, such as bitter melon (Momordica charantia), should be monitored closely by their health care provider while using shark cartilage. Dosing adjustments may be necessary. In theory, shark cartilage may raise blood sugars levels if taken with glucosamine. Shark cartilage is rich in calcium and should not be combined with calcium supplements. Other trace elements that are found in higher amounts in shark cartilage than in other fishes and in other animal bones include iron, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, molybdenum, titanium and strontium.


The doses listed below are based on scientific research, publications or traditional use. Because most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly studied or monitored, safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients even within the same brand. Combination products often contain small amounts of each ingredient and may not be effective. Appropriate dosing should be discussed with your health care provider before starting therapy; always read the recommendations on a product's label. The dosing for unproven uses should be approached cautiously, because scientific information is limited in these areas.

To increase absorption, shark cartilage should be taken on an empty stomach. Acidic fruit juices, such as apple, grape, orange, tomato or cranberry juice, should be avoided for 15 to 30 minutes before and after taking shark cartilage.

Adults (Aged 18 Or Older)

Ground cartilage extract: A dose of 80 to 100 grams per day or one to 1.3 grams per kilogram of weight per day, divided into two to four doses, has been taken by mouth.

Children (Younger Than 18):  Shark cartilage should be avoided in children because of concerns that it may interfere with normal growth.

For Psoriasis

Adults (Aged 18 Or Older)

For Arthritis

Adults (Aged 18 Or Older)


The information in this monograph was prepared by the professional staff at Natural Standard, based on thorough systematic review of scientific evidence. The material was reviewed by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School with final editing approved by Natural Standard.


  1. Natural Standard: An organization that produces scientifically based reviews of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) topics
  2. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM): A division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services dedicated to research

Selected Scientific Studies: Shark Cartilage

Some of the more recent studies are listed below:

  1. Anonymous. AE 941. Drugs R D 2004;5(2):83-89. Review.
  2. Batist G, Patenaude F, Champagne P, et al. Neovastat (AE-941) in refractory renal cell carcinoma patients: report of a phase II trial with two dose levels. Ann Oncol 2002;Aug, 13(8):1259-1263.
  3. Bukowski RM. AE-941, a multifunctional antiangiogenic compound: trials in renal cell carcinoma. Expert Opin Investig Drugs 2003;Aug, 12(8):1403-1411. Review.
  4. Cho J, Kim Y. Sharks: a potential source of antiangiogenic factors and tumor treatments. Mar Biotechnol (NY) 2002;Dec, 4(6):521-525.
  5. Dredge K. AE-941 (AEterna). Curr Opin Investig Drugs 2004;Jun, 5(6):668-677. Review.
  6. Dupont E, Falardeau P, Mousa SA, et al. Antiangiogenic and antimetastatic properties of Neovastat (AE-941), an orally active extract derived from cartilage tissue. Clin Exp Metastasis 2002;19(2):145-153.
  7. Dupont E, Savard RE, Jourdain C, et al. Antiangiogenic properties of a novel shark cartilage extract: potential role in the treatment of psoriasis. J Cutan Med Surg 1998;2(3):146-152.
  8. Escudier B, Patenaude F, Bukowski R, et al. Rationale for a phase III clinical trial with AE-941 (Neovastat ®) in metastatic renal cell carcinoma patients refractory to immunotherapy. Ann Oncol 2000;11(Suppl 4):143-144.
  9. Gingras D, Boivin D, Deckers C, et al. Neovastat: a novel antiangiogenic drug for cancer therapy. Anticancer Drugs 2003;Feb, 14(2):91-96. Review.
  10. Hassan ZM, Feyzi R, Sheikhian A, et al. Low molecular weight fraction of shark cartilage can modulate immune responses and abolish angiogenesis. Int Immunopharmacol 2005;Jun, 5(6):961-970.
  11. Jamali MA, Riviere P, Falardeau A, et al. Effect of AE-941 (Neovastat), an angiogenesis inhibitor, in the Lewis lung carcinoma metastatic model, efficacy, toxicity prevention and survival. Clin Invest Med 1998;(Suppl):S16.
  12. Kim M. Mercury, cadmium and arsenic contents of calcium dietary supplements. Food Addit Contam 2004;Aug, 21(8):763-767.
  13. Kralovec JA, Guan Y, Metera K, Carr RI. Immunomodulating principles from shark cartilage: part 1. Isolation and biological assessment in vitro. Int Immunopharmacol 2003;May, 3(5):657-669.
  14. Leitner SP, Rothkopf MM, Haverstick DD, et al. Two phase II studies of oral dry shark cartilage powder (SCP) in patients with either metastatic breast or prostate cancer refractory to standard treatment. Amer Soc Clin Oncol 1998;17:A240.
  15. Miller DR, Anderson GT, Stark JJ, et al. Phase I/II trial of the safety and efficacy of shark cartilage in the treatment of advanced cancer. J Clin Oncol 1998;16(11):3649-3655.
  16. Ortega HG, Kreiss K, Schill DP, Weissman DN. Fatal asthma from powdering shark cartilage and review of fatal occupational asthma literature. Am J Ind Med 2002;Jul, 42(1):50-54. Review.
  17. Riviere M, Alaoui-Jamali M, Falardeau P, et al. Neovastat: an inhibitor of angiogenesis with anti-cancer activity. Proc Amer Assoc Cancer Res 1998;39:46.
  18. Riviere M, Falardeau P, Latreille J, et al. Phase I/II lung cancer clinical trial results with AE-941 (Neovastat) an inhibitor of angiogenesis. J Clin Pharm 1998;38(9):860.
  19. Riviere M, Latreille J, Falardeau P. AE-941 (Neovastat), an inhibitor of angiogenesis: phase I/II cancer clinical trial results. Cancer Invest 1999;17(Suppl 1):16-17.
  20. San-Juan S, Garces M, Caballero ML, et al. Occupational asthma caused by shark cartilage dust. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2004;Nov, 114(5):1227-1228.
  21. Sheu JR, Fu CC, Tsai ML, et al. Effect of U-995, a potent shark cartilage-derived angiogenesis inhibitor, on anti-angiogenesis and anti-tumor activities. Anticancer Res 1998;18(6A):4435-4441.
  22. Wilson JL. Topical shark cartilage subdues psoriasis. Altern Comp Ther 2000;6:291.

Last updated June 21, 2005