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Bovine cartilage


Related terms

Related Terms
  • Antitumor angiogenesis factor, bovine mucopolysaccharide-cartilage complex, bovine tracheal cartilage, Catrix®, Catrix®-S, collagen bovine, cow cartilage, glycosaminoglycan polysulfuric acid complex, metastatin, mucopolysaccharide-cartilage complex, processed bovine cartilage, psoriacin, psoriacin-T, Rumalon®, VitaCarte®.

  • As a dietary supplement, bovine cartilage is usually made from the tracheal (windpipe) cartilage of bovines. The dietary supplement VitaCarte® is the commercially available preparation of Catrix®, an experimental powdered preparation that is taken in capsules.
  • The foremost researcher on the medicinal use of bovine cartilage was the late John F. Prudden, MD, who published the 1974 paper "The Acceleration of Wound Healing with Cartilage. I."
  • Early evidence suggests that Catrix® may be beneficial for psoriasis and treatment-resistant breast cancer. However, there are scant scientific data available on the medical use of bovine cartilage. Additional research is needed to determine its safety and effectiveness.
  • Bovine cartilage has also been suggested as a potential treatment for acne, alveoalgia, anal fissure, hemorrhoids, osteoarthritis, pruritus ani (irritated skin around the anus), rash from poison oak or poison ivy, and rheumatoid arthritis. According to secondary sources, bovine cartilage may have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating actions. However, human research in these areas is lacking.
  • The commercial preparation Catrix® Wound Dressing was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998, but it is not marketed in the United States. However, there is American availability of dermatologic preparations that contain the same powdered preparation of bovine cartilage as Catrix® Wound Dressing: Catrix® 10 Ointment, Catrix® 5 Rejuvenation Cream, and Catrix® Lipcare.
  • The FDA does not list bovine cartilage on its Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list.

Evidence Table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. GRADE *

An experimental oral preparation of bovine tracheal cartilage (Catrix®), commercially available as VitaCarte®, has been tested as a potential treatment for cancer. However, based on available evidence, it is unclear if this use is safe or effective.


It has been proposed that bovine cartilage may help reduce inflammation and edema and enhance wound healing when applied to the skin. Limited early evidence suggests that Catrix® 10 Ointment may help heal facial skin after laser resurfacing. However, additional research is needed before conclusions can be made.

* Key to grades

A: Strong scientific evidence for this use
B: Good scientific evidence for this use
C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use
D: Fair scientific evidence for this use (it may not work)
F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likley does not work)

Tradition / Theory

The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.

  • Acne, allergic reactions, anal fissure, anti-inflammatory, angiogenesis (anti-), arthritis, autoimmune diseases, enteritis (regional), hemorrhoids, herpes infection, herpes zoster, immune function, inflammation after tooth extraction (dry socket), lupus, osteoarthritis, pruritus, psoriasis, rash (poison ivy, poison oak), rheumatism, scleroderma, skin irritation (tretinoin), swelling, tumors, ulcerative colitis, viral infections, wound healing.


Adults (18 years and older)

  • Capsules (powdered bovine tracheal cartilage): According to the manufacturer's recommendation, three grams of VitaCarte® (the commercially available preparation of Catrix®, an experimental powdered preparation of bovine tracheal cartilage used in human studies) can be taken three times daily for four months. Prudden stated that the normal clinical, oral dosage for Catrix® is three grams every eight hours, although deviation was possible, provided that at least nine grams daily is taken in at least two doses. According to anecdote, three grams has been taken four times daily for the treatment of ulcerative colitis.
  • Ointment (10% powdered bovine cartilage): According to the manufacturer's recommendation, for use after a cosmetic procedure, a liberal amount of Catrix® 10 Ointment (10% powdered bovine cartilage) can be applied to the area immediately after the procedure and every 2-5 hours whenever that area feels or looks dry. The manufacturer also recommends that the area also should be kept moist at all times throughout healing. In a clinical trial, following cosmetic use of laser (laser [erbium:YAG] resurfacing) on facial skin, Catrix® 10 Ointment was applied every two hours for the first 24 hours, after which there was application every four hours following a cool soak with saline for 15 minutes, for eight days.
  • Cream: Based on herbal textbooks, a 5% bovine cartilage cream has been used for acne (application at least twice daily after washing the affected area), poison ivy or poison oak (application every two hours to start and less frequently as itching decreases), pruritus ani (application two or more times daily), and psoriasis (application 2-3 times daily after bathing the affected area).
  • Paste: According to secondary reports, a paste made from a mixture of powdered bovine cartilage and saline has been used for alveoalgia, by packing the mixture into the tooth socket.
  • According to secondary sources, there has been experimental use of weekly or biweekly subcutaneous doses of 5-25 grams of bovine cartilage for most indications, although for osteoarthritis, psoriasis, and cancer, the experimental doses have been up to 40, 75, and 100-300 grams, respectively.
  • According to secondary sources, 2.2 grams of bovine cartilage, as a 2% suppository, at least three times daily, has been used to soften stools for hemorrhoids and anal fissures

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for bovine cartilage in children.


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.


  • Avoid in individuals with known allergy or hypersensitivity to bovine cartilage or any of its constituents.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Catrix® is commercially available as the dietary supplement, VitaCarte®. A commercially available ointment of 10% powdered bovine cartilage (Catrix® 10 Ointment) had a lack of adverse effects in 19 patients with eight days of application of the ointment as a dressing following cosmetic use of laser (laser [erbium:YAG] resurfacing) on facial skin.
  • Bloating, osmotic diarrhea, nausea, scrotal edema, nephritic syndrome, and fatigue are possible adverse effects of oral bovine cartilage.
  • Use cautiously in patients with cancer, as there is uncertainty about the effectiveness of bovine cartilage as a treatment for cancer.
  • Use cautiously in patients with renal failure.
  • Use cautiously in patients with hepatic failure, according to secondary sources.
  • Avoid in patients with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to bovine cartilage or its constituents.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • Bovine cartilage is not suggested in pregnant or breastfeeding women, due to a lack of available scientific evidence.


Interactions with Drugs

  • Bovine cartilage may have antiangiogenic, antiarthritic, anticancer (antineoplastic), and immunomodulating properties.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Bovine cartilage may have antiangiogenic, antiarthritic, anticancer (antineoplastic), and immunomodulating properties.

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

  1. Berg, P. A., Durk, H., Saal, J., and Hopf, G. Bovine cartilage and marrow extract. Lancet 6-3-1989;1(8649):1275.
  2. Durie, B. G., Soehnlen, B., and Prudden, J. F. Antitumor activity of bovine cartilage extract (Catrix-S) in the human tumor stem cell assay. J.Biol.Response Mod. 1985;4(6):590-595.
  3. Durk, H., Haase, K., Saal, J., Becker, W., and Berg, P. A. Nephrotic syndrome after injections of bovine cartilage and marrow extract. Lancet 3-18-1989;1(8638):614.
  4. Klein, R., Becker, E. W., Berg, P. A., and Bernau, A. Immunomodulatory properties of rumalon, a glycosaminoglycan peptide complex, in patients with osteoarthritis: activation of T helper cell type 2 cytokines and antigen-specific IgG4 antigen-specific igG4 antibodies. J.Rheumatol. 2000;27(2):448-454.
  5. Liu, N., Lapcevich, R. K., Underhill, C. B., Han, Z., Gao, F., Swartz, G., Plum, S. M., Zhang, L., and Green, S. J. Metastatin: a hyaluronan-binding complex from cartilage that inhibits tumor growth. Cancer Res 2-1-2001;61(3):1022-1028.
  6. Prudden, J. F. The treatment of human cancer with agents prepared from bovine cartilage. J.Biol.Response Mod. 1985;4(6):551-584.
  7. Prudden, J. F. and Balassa, L. L. The biological activity of bovine cartilage preparations. Clinical demonstration of their potent anti-inflammatory capacity with supplementary notes on certain relevant fundamental supportive studies. Semin.Arthritis Rheum. 1974;3(4):287-321.
  8. Saikawa, I., Hotokebuchi, T., Miyahara, H., Tokito, T., Maeda, T., Arita, C., and Sugioka, Y. High-density proteoglycan induces specific suppression of adjuvant-induced arthritis in rats. Clin Exp Immunol 1994;95(3):424-429.
  9. Shukunami, C., Oshima, Y., and Hiraki, Y. Chondromodulin-I and tenomodulin: a new class of tissue-specific angiogenesis inhibitors found in hypovascular connective tissues. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 7-29-2005;333(2):299-307.
  10. Tanzi, E. L. and Perez, M. The effect of a mucopolysaccharide-cartilage complex healing ointment on Er:YAG laser resurfaced facial skin. Dermatol Surg 2002;28(4):305-308.
  11. Schacht, E. and Roetz, R. Nephrotic syndrome after injections of bovine cartilage and marrow extract. Lancet 4-29-1989;1(8644):963.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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