Cartilage is the flexible connective tissue found in the ear and on the surface of joints. Animal cartilage extract has been used to strengthen joints. It has also been used to ease swelling of the joints. Cartilage can be taken as a pill or powder. It can also be injected into the muscle by a healthcare provider.


There are no advised doses for cartilage.

What Research Shows

May Be Effective

  • Osteoarthritis—collagen and chicken cartilage may ease symptoms and improve quality of lifeB1-B4
  • Rheumatoid arthritis—chicken collagen may reduce symptomsC1

May Not Be Effective

  • Advanced cancer—shark cartilage may not increase survival or improve quality of life A1, A2

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to take cartilage in small doses for a short time. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to use for a long period. It is also not known whether it is safe to take by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.


Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.


REFA Advanced Cancer

REFA1 Miller DR, Anderson GT, et al. Phase I/II trial of the safety and efficacy of shark cartilage in the treatment of advanced cancer. J Clin Oncol. 1998 Nov;16(11):3649-3655.

REFA2 Loprinzi CL, Levitt R, et al. Evaluation of shark cartilage in patients with advanced cancer: a North Central Cancer Treatment Group trial. Cancer. 2005 Jul 1;104(1):176-182

REFB Osteoarthritis

REFB1 Crowley DC, Lau FC, et al. Safety and efficacy of undenatured type II collagen in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee: a clinical trial. Int J Med Sci. 2009 Oct 9;6(6):312-321.

REFB2 Schauss AG, Stenehjem J, et al. Effect of the novel low molecular weight hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract, BioCell Collagen, on improving osteoarthritis-related symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Agric Food Chem. 2012;60(16):4096-4101.

REFB3 Lugo JP, Saiyed ZM, et al. Efficacy and tolerability of an undenatured type II collagen supplement in modulating knee osteoarthritis symptoms: a multicenter randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutr J. 2016;15:14.

REFB4 Liu X, Machado GC, et al. Dietary supplements for treating osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta analysis. Br J Sports Med. 2018 Feb;52(3):167-175.

REFC Rheumatoid Arthritis

REFC1 Wei W, Zhang LL, et al. A multicenter, double-blind, randomized, controlled phase III clinical trial of chicken type II collagen in rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Res Ther. 2009;11(6):180.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
  • Review Date: 05/2020
  • Update Date: 05/05/2020