You most likely only thought of the animal as all teeth and muscle, but there are many benefits and uses of shark liver oil. The thought that jumped in your mind once you saw ‘shark’ sure wasn’t a pretty one. Aside from their beauty, they are mostly associated with dismemberment and mangled bodies.
Although, in actual sense, sharks don’t attack until provoked. I won’t bet on that though; some things are better left unknown. In any case, like every other fantastic creature on the planet, sharks are for you and not against you – remember not to take my word for that!
Benefits And Uses Of Shark Liver Oil – Beauty In The Beast
Who would have thought something this good could come out of something this feared? Well, it did. Shark liver oil (SLO) is the oil primarily derived from sharks’ livers – were you expecting something more dramatic? The name gave it away.
There are several varieties of sharks lounging away in different oceans and seas across the planet. Despite this, shark liver oil is obtained primarily from deep-sea shark (Centrophorus squamosus), basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), and dogfish shark (Squalus acanthias). This in no way means these breeds are the gentlest, but research has shown that oil derived from their livers has the most beneficial results on human health.
History And Research Supporting The Benefits And Uses Of Shark Liver Oil
The use of shark liver oil for human health dates back to several years. It was first recognized among the Scandinavians. Scandinavian farmers used shark liver oil in treating skin conditions, respiratory ailments, and even certain cancers. The oil was majorly prescribed in traditional medicine for glandular disease, a disease we now know as lymphadenopathy.
Langdon and Pugliese, researchers from the National Council of European Traditional Medicine, studied the active components in shark liver oil. Findings show high concentrations of alkylglycerols (AKGs), squalene, and omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA). These chemical compounds have known effects on the immune system. With further biologic modifications, it has proven to be effective in treating various conditions.
Thus far, research has revealed that shark liver oil can prevent radiation illness from cancer x-ray treatment and prevent common flu and swine flu, among other immune responses. Nowadays, the oil is mostly sold as a dietary supplement with promises of all it can do for your health. More evidence is still needed to support several marketing claims of the efficacy of shark liver oil.
Interestingly, the oil has a pungent aroma and taste with a dark yellow to brown shade. Despite this, it is still in active use in skin creams and lip balms. Users ignore taste and smell once they know the amazing benefits they can get – so human!
Notwithstanding, here are some of the verified benefits and uses of shark liver oil – now you know sharks aren’t just all teeth and muscles.
Top 4 Amazing Benefits And Uses Of Shark Liver Oil
As earlier stated, the abundance of certain chemical compounds in shark liver oil is attributed to its medicinal benefits. These substances include AKGs, squalene, and omega 3 PUFAs. Read on and find some of the widespread effects of these compounds on the body and how they generally affect your health.
Understandably, this remains one of the most marketed benefits of shark liver oil. A lot of companies producing health supplements have made huge bucks from this benefit alone. This is so because cancer is a prevalent disease condition globally and frankly, it is better prevented than managed.
The anticancer properties of shark liver oil are attributed to the high amounts of AKGs and squalene. This also explains why the incidence of cancer in sharks is extremely low. You thought cancer was found in only humans? Think again!
Alkylglycerol is a type of fat found primarily in blood-forming organs such as the liver, spleen, and bone marrow. Large quantities of it are also found in red blood cells and breastmilk. Findings from studies carried out on this substance showed that it activates macrophages and exerts anti-angiogenesis effects. Both of these chemical actions are responsible for the anti-tumor potential of AKGs.
Macrophages belong to the white blood cell defense system of the body – imagine defense tanks and bombs! The action of macrophages digests defective body cells, including cancerous cells. Anti-angiogenesis effects mean that AKGs prevent new blood cells that could feed cancerous cells and facilitate tumor growth. In simple terms, AKGs cause a domino effect in providing extra fortification for the body against cancer growth.
Squalene, another of the compounds found in shark liver oil, is also recommended as an adjunct to chemotherapy. This is because of its effects on free radicals in the body. All in all, shark liver oil has proven useful in cancer prevention, treatment, and management. Of course, more research is still ongoing.
Effects On The Immune System
According to historical findings, the effects of shark liver oil on enhancing immunity were what got the Scandinavian farmers’ attention. How they stumbled on that fact remains a truth yet untold.
Having explained the ninja effects of AKGs on macrophages, they also stimulate antibody production and enhance protein receptor activity for immune response. Equally, squalene stabilizes immunostimulating activity in the body. This effect balances the immune response in the body, especially in improving vaccines’ effectiveness. Furthermore, the polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega 3 in shark liver oil also heighten the body’s immune response. This effect is linked to the anti-inflammatory effects of PUFAs in the body.
All of the major chemical components of shark liver oil have positive effects on the immune system. That in itself should give you a clue on its efficacy.
Effects On Heart Health
Usually, most supplements claim effects on heart health and, in essence, cause doubt among buyers. The effects of shark liver oil on heart health are proven by evidence from studies, with other supporting ongoing research. Notwithstanding, there are contradictory pieces of evidence on the effects of squalene on heart health.
On the one hand, the anti-atherosclerotic effect of shark liver oil is attributed to squalene. This means that it prevents the buildup of plaque in the blood vessels. On the flip side, squalene is also known to be a precursor to cholesterol production. Increased cholesterol in the body beyond average limits is considered dangerous for multi-system balance as excess is stored in the liver.
Despite this contradiction, with proper monitoring, shark liver oil will prove useful for heart health, more so with the presence of PUFAs. Omega 3 reduces the risk of heart disease and facilities a balance for cholesterol in the body. Theoretically, this could cancel out the negative effect of squalene on cholesterol.
Other Additional Benefits
Asides from the three heavily marketed benefits explained above, there are other potential benefits and uses of shark liver oil on the human body.
Studies show that shark liver oil may improve sperm motility and speed, thereby increasing males’ fertility potential. Hello guys, time to get the boys swimming! Also, squalene is known to be a critical component of sebum and skin oil. As such, it provides hydration and protection from ultraviolet radiation.
Additionally, due to its effects on the immune systems, chemical compounds found in shark liver oil may significantly reduce recurrent mouth ulcers. Interestingly, tissue damage caused by cancer radiation treatment can be reduced considerably by AKGs in the oil. This, in effect, prevents radiation sickness and may reduce the body’s violent response to cancer treatment. At the very least, puking from chemotherapy is greatly reduced if not eliminated.
Possible Side Effects Of The Benefits And Uses Of Shark Liver Oil
Currently, there are no verified side effects to the use of shark liver oil. Nonetheless, caution should be taken by people who have a prior disposition to high cholesterol levels due to the presence of squalene.
As with most supplements, consultation should be made with a general physician to ascertain if you are in the best state of health to take them. If you don’t listen to anyone, you should listen to your doctor – they know best!
Though sharks are predisposed to heavy metal contamination, especially mercury, it is mostly stored in the muscles and fins. Albeit, shark liver oil should be taken in small doses, especially if usage is over an extended period.
Benefits And Uses Of Shark Liver Oil – Specific Population
Other than those who have heart disease or those taking blood pressure-lowering drugs, shark liver oil is considered safe for all. In fact, it can be an alternative source of omega 3 fatty acid for those allergic to fish.
Also, while the oil has not shown interaction with other drugs, that doesn’t mean they can’t occur. Therefore, caution should be taken by those using aspirin, warfarin, and other blood-thinning drugs. For every other person, it’s an easy breeze.
Take-Home Message On Benefits And Uses Of Shark Liver Oil
Now you understand why I said there is more to sharks than teeth and muscles. When next you stumble upon one – physically or otherwise – I hope you remember the benefits and uses of shark liver oil. Now you privy to information others do not, brag a little bit. Till then, stay healthy, stay safe.