Supplements: Sea Cucumber, Sea Mussel and Shark Cartilage

by G Kharchenko

Posted on Thursday 7th of July 2011

Sea Cucumber

Sea cucumbers, also known as beche de mer and trepang, are not actually cucumbers, but are marine animals related to starfishes and sea urchins. They have been used in China for thousands of years as a treatment for arthritis. Modern research has confirmed they are beneficial for musculoskeletal inflammatory diseases, especially rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis, a rheumatic disease that affects the spine.

Researchers believe that sea cucumbers improve the balance of prostaglandins, which regulate the inflammatory process. They also contain substances known as chondroitins, which are often lacking in people with arthritis and connective tissue disorders (see Chondroitin Sulfate in this section). In addition, sea cucumbers provide vitamins A, B! (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), and C, as well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Sea Mussel

The green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) is a species of edible shellfish. These mussels contain numerous aminc acids, the building blocks of body proteins, in addition tc enzymes and essential trace elements. The minerals they contain are present in a balance similar to that in blood plasma, and these minerals are naturally chelated by the amino acids, making for better assimilation into the body. Sea mussel aids in the functioning of the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system, the endocrine system, the eyes, connective tissues, and mucous membranes. They help to reduce inflammation and relieve the pain and stiffness of arthritis. They also promote the healing of wounds and burns.

Shark Cartilage

The tough, elastic material that makes up the skeleton of the shark is dried and pulverized (finely powdered) to make this food supplement. Shark cartilage contains a number of active components, the most important of which is a type of protein that acts as an angiogenesis inhibitor—that is, it supposedly acts to suppress the development of new blood vessels. This would make it valuable in fighting a number of disorders. Many cancerous tumors, for instance, are able to grow only because they induce the body to develop new networks of blood vessels to supply them with nutrients.

Shark cartilage is said to suppress this process, so that tumors are deprived of their source of nourishment and, often, begin to shrink. There are also certain eye disorders, such as diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration, that are characterized by the growth of new blood vessels within the eye; because they grow in inappropriate places, the presence of these blood vessels can lead to blindness. Such diseases also may respond well to shark cartilage. Other conditions for which shark cartilage is useful include arthritis, psoriasis, and regional enteritis (inflammation of the lining of the bowels). In addition to angiogenesis-inhibiting protein, shark cartilage contains calcium (approximately 16 percent) and phosphorus (approximately 8 percent), which are absorbed as nutrients, and mucopolysaccharides that act to stimulate the immune system.

Shark cartilage is available in powder and capsule forms. Exercise caution when buying shark cartilage, as the purity and correct processing of the product are vital to its effectiveness. Not all shark cartilage products contain only 100 percent pure shark cartilage, so read labels carefully.
Pure shark cartilage is white in color. If you are taking large quantities of shark cartilage, it may be wise to increase your supplementation of certain minerals, daily magnesium and potassium, to maintain a proper mineral balance in the body. Shark cartilage should not be taken by pregnant women or children, or by persons who have recently undergone surgery or suffered a heart attack.

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