Anyone who has ever ventured into an ocean to swim or even wade out to waist-high water-or has seen one of the "Jaws" movies - knows better than to not have a healthy fear of sharks. What most probably don't know, however, is that certain breeds of sharks can be a life saver for anyone who has struggled mightily with joint pain and arthritis. That's because shark cartilage, readily available in supplement form, has shown the capacity to alleviate joint pain (in humans) while also having the potential to provide other health benefits.
What Is Shark Cartilage and How Does It Work?
The basis for shark cartilage's ability to yield health benefits apparently is in its anti-inflammatory characteristic. Chalk that up to its provision of protein, which is believed to be a potent anti-inflammatory agent as well as a booster for the immune system. In reducing painful inflammation, shark cartilage is seen as a worthy foe of various types of arthritis, a fairly common chronic condition, especially in those fifty and over.
Shark cartilage is sourced from the skeletal remains of sharks and has been used for centuries in folk remedy treatments not just for joint pain but for other diseases as well. It contains both chondroitin sulfateand glucosamine, which play roles in enhancing flexibility in addition to cutting down on inflammation in protecting the health of joint. Chondroitin sulfate is not only a key structural component of human cartilage, it also plays a vital role in the maintenance of joint cartilage. As for glucosamine, it is a compound in connective tissue. Shark cartilage also has an abundance of calcium, which is important in maintaining bone health.
Speaking of bone, it's interesting to note that a shark's skeleton is not made out of bone, like a human's skeleton is, but is comprised of, you guessed it, cartilage, which is softer and more malleable than bone. Ingesting the connective tissue of other animals (such as sharks) might benefit our own joints, which are cushioned by attached cartilage that allows our bones to oftentimes move more smoothly against one other. As we age, the cushioning afforded us by our cartilage positioned among our joints starts to wear down, eventually producing inflammation that can lead to arthritis.
Shark Cartilage Has Its Fans
Indeed, it does. Its enthusiasts include not only those who are dealing with arthritis and other forms of joint pain, but also bodybuilders and people dealing with unwanted hair loss. A major part of bodybuilding is weight training for long periods of time, an intense activity that involves repetitive motions with heavy loads that put a sustained stress on many joints of the body, subjecting these athletes to joint pain and associated inflammation.
Not only does the shark cartilage provide glucosamine that can assist with this joint and tendon health, it also is a source of amino acids, collagen, phosphorus and mucopolysaccharides that contribute to the healthy function of muscles and vital organs.
As for the prevention of hair loss, shark cartilage is popular among both men and women looking to hang on to those follicles as long as possible. A study published in International Journal of Medical Research contends that shark cartilage has properties that reportedly can stimulate hair growth.
As with any supplement, vitamin, herb or nutrient, be sure to discuss using shark cartilage with your personal physician before starting any regimen.