Shark liver oil

Shark liver oil is derived from sharks that are caught for food. The oil is obtained from sharks that live in very deep cold oceans. According to The American Cancer Society, shark liver oil has been used by Europeans as a folk medicine for hundreds of years to heal wounds, help to rid themselves of digestive problems, and to heal diseases of the respiratory system.

In the past 50 years shark liver oil has started to be used as an agent to boost the immune system in other ways, namely as an agent to prevent cancer. It has also been used in studies to see what its benefits would be against certain tumors. This started in the 1950’s when a Swedish physician proposed that extracts of bone marrow would help increase the recovery of white blood cells of children who were recuperating from chemotherapy and radiation treatments. These children suffered from leukemia. The researchers found that the main ingredient in the bone marrow responsible for this action was alkylglycerols. Shark liver oil was one of the best sources of alkylglycerols at the time.

Shark liver oil was first commercially produced in the 1980′s. It has been widely used in Europe since that time for healing wounds, digestive ailments and for respiratory problems. They are using it in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation treatments to study its benefit in helping to prevent tumor growth as well as boost the immune system and improve white blood cell count during these treatments.

Today shark liver oil is being marketed in the United States and in Europe as a dietary supplement to boost the immune system, heal wounds, aid in recovering from infections, and as a treatment for cancer and to reduce the side effects of cancer treatments. The reason that shark liver oil may be beneficial in these areas is due to the fact that it contains three components. The first component is the alkylglycerols mentioned above. Researchers who have studied these components in the laboratory feel that alkylglycerols are able to jump start the immune system by inhibiting a key regulator of cell growth called protein kinase C and by activating certain cells in the immune system called macrophages. These cells destroy germ cells as well as other cells which have are damaged or dying. Researchers also feel that alkylglycerols are able to protect people who are undergoing cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation from the side effects that normally occur. These side effects can include low white blood cell counts. The proponents of this supplement feel that the alkylglycerols are able to reinforce the cell membrane thus protecting it from damage due to the chemotherapy or radiation treatments.

Shark liver oil can also benefit people who are suffering from illness due to its ability to jump start the immune system. This allows quicker healing from diseases such as colds, flu, asthma, bronchitis, and may even help to improve such problems as arthritis and AIDS. These components are touted to have healing effects. They have been used for healing wounds in Europe for many years. The macrophages that are affected by the alkylglycerols are also key components in wound healing.

The two other components in shark liver oil that have beneficial effects are squalene and squalamine. Research done in the laboratory on rats showed that these two components were beneficial in reducing the growth of tumors by slowing down the growth of their blood vessels. Squalene has also been studied and may also have abilities to protect the cells against damage due to chemotherapy treatments.

It needs to be noted here that most of the clinical studies that have been done have been in the laboratory in vitro or with rats. A few studies have been done on humans including a small study done on women who had cervical cancer. That study did show that the women benefited from using shark liver oil in conjunction with their radiation therapy. However it is early yet in human trials on this supplement. Ongoing studies such as its effect on prostate and lung cancer are being done as we speak.

More study needs to be done before a final determination can be made as to shark liver oil’s efficacy on cancer tumors can be made. However the preliminary studies do look promising. There have been no reports of toxicity that need to be noted here. The only side effects that have been reported have been mild digestive complaints such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. One small study found that long term use might cause cholesterol levels to rise minimally, however this has not been confirmed. Anyone that is allergic to any type of seafood should not take this supplement.

It is not recommended to use this supplement in lieu of conventional treatment. However, this supplement may be used in conjunction with conventional treatment to help benefit that treatment and lessen the side effects of those treatments which can be severe for some people. It is always recommended to consult with a physician or medical professional before taking this or any other supplement to make sure it is safe to do so.

Last updated on Jan 14th, 2010 and filed under Nutritional Information. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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