Bovine Cartilage

Other Name(s):

Antitumor Angiogenesis Factor (anti-TAF), Bovine Tracheal Cartilage (BTC), Cartilage Trachéal de Bovins, Cartílago Bovino, Catrix, Catrix-S, Collagen Bovine, Collagène Bovin, Glycosaminoglycan Polysulphuric Acid Complex, Processed Bovine Cartilage, Psoriacin, Psoriacin-T, Rumalon.


Cartilage is a substance in the body that provides structural support. Bovine cartilage comes from cows (bovine). People sometimes use bovine cartilage as medicine.

Bovine cartilage is taken by mouth or injected under the skin (given subcutaneously) for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis, ulcerative colitis, skin conditions such as scleroderma and psoriasis, herpes infection, brain cancer (glioblastoma multiforme), and other cancers.

It is also taken by mouth for allergic reactions caused by chemical toxins.

Bovine cartilage is applied directly to the skin (used topically) for wounds that won't heal; external hemorrhoids and rectal itching; and skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and dermatitis caused by poison oak or poison ivy. It is also used for “dry socket,” a painful complication of tooth extraction.

Bovine cartilage is sometimes applied to the anus for internal hemorrhoids and anal tears.

Health providers sometimes give bovine cartilage as a shot (injection into the muscle) for osteoarthritis.

How does it work?

Bovine cartilage might work by providing chemicals needed for rebuilding cartilage in people with osteoarthritis. It might also help reduce swelling and help wounds heal more effectively.


The term arthritis refers to stiffness in the joints. See Answer

Uses & Effectiveness

Possibly Effective for...

  • Acne. Applying bovine cartilage to the skin seems to help reduce acne.
  • Rectal tears. Bovine cartilage may help reduce symptoms of rectal tears when applied externally on the rectum.
  • Anal itching. Bovine cartilage may help reduce symptoms of anal itching when applied externally on the rectum.
  • Hemorrhoids. Bovine cartilage may help reduce symptoms of hemorrhoids when applied externally on the rectum.
  • "Dry socket" after tooth extraction. When bovine cartilage is applied externally it seems to help with mandibular alveolitis or “dry socket” after tooth extraction.
  • Osteoarthritis. When bovine cartilage is injected under the skin it may help decrease symptoms of osteoarthritis. However, bovine cartilage does not seem to be beneficial when injected into the muscle.
  • Skin reaction caused by poison oak and poison ivy. Using bovine cartilage cream on the skin seems to help with symptoms of poison oak and poison ivy.
  • Psoriasis. Applying bovine cartilage to the skin or injecting it under the skin for 6 weeks may improve symptoms of psoriasis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). When bovine cartilage is injected under the skin it may help reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Wound healing. Research suggests that applying a specific ointment (Catrix 10) containing powdered bovine cartilage to the skin helps reduce skin redness, swelling, and erosion following a laser procedure on the face.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Ulcerative colitis.
  • Cancer.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of bovine cartilage for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Bovine cartilage is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth, applied to the skin, or administered as a shot into the muscle or below the skin for medicinal purposes. It can cause side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, swelling, local redness, and itching.

There is some concern about the possibility of catching "mad cow disease" (bovine spongiform encephalitis, BSE) or other diseases from products that come from animals. "Mad cow disease" does not appear to be transmitted through cartilage products, but it is probably wise to avoid animal products from countries where mad cow disease has been found.


What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)? Symptoms, Treatment, Diagnosis See Slideshow

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking bovine cartilage if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For itchiness near the anus (anal pruritus): A 5% cream applied two or more times daily.
  • For acne: A 5% cream applied at least twice daily after washing.
  • For soreness in the gum after a tooth is pulled: Powdered bovine cartilage mixed with salt water to form a paste, packed into the dry socket following tooth extraction.
  • As a stool softener for hemorrhoids and cracked skin around the anus: 2.2 grams of bovine cartilage in the form of a 2% suppository inserted at least three times daily along with 100 mg of dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DSS) taken by mouth twice daily.
  • Healthcare providers give bovine cartilage by injection (shot) under the skin for osteoarthritis and psoriasis.
  • Healthcare providers give bovine cartilage by injection (shot) into the muscle for osteoarthritis.

FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


Berg, P. A., Durk, H., Saal, J., and Hopf, G. Bovine cartilage and marrow extract. Lancet 6-3-1989;1(8649):1275. View abstract.

Brandt, R., Hedlof, E., Asman, I., Bucht, A., and Tengblad, A. A convenient radiometric assay for hyaluronan. Acta Otolaryngol.Suppl 1987;442:31-35. View abstract.

Bunning, R. A. D., Murphy, G., Kumar, S., Phillips, P., and Reynolds, J. Metalloproteinase inhibitors from bovine cartilage and body fluids. European Journal of Biochemistry 1984;139(1):75-80.

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. View abstract.

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. View abstract.

Hiraki, Y., Kato, Y., Inoue, H., and Suzuki, F. Stimulation of DNA synthesis in quiescent rabbit chondrocytes in culture by limited exposure to somatomedin-like growth factors. European Journal of Biochemistry 1986;158(2):333-337.

Hui, W., Rowan, A. D., Richards, C. D., and Cawston, T. E. Oncostatin M in combination with tumor necrosis factor alpha induces cartilage damage and matrix metalloproteinase expression in vitro and in vivo. Arthritis Rheum 2003;48(12):3404-3418. View abstract.

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. View abstract.

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. View abstract.

Loeuille, D., Olivier, P., Watrin, A., Grossin, L., Gonord, P., Guillot, G., Etienne, S., Blum, A., Netter, P., and Gillet, P. The biochemical content of articular cartilage: an original MRI approach. Biorheology 2002;39(1-2):269-276. View abstract.

No authors listed. Cartilage vs. Cancer. Nutrition News 1996;20(6):2-3.

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. View abstract.

Schacht, E. and Roetz, R. Nephrotic syndrome after injections of bovine cartilage and marrow extract. Lancet 4-29-1989;1(8644):963. View abstract.

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. View abstract.

Suzuki, F. [Cartilage-derived growth factor and antitumor factor: past, present, and future studies]. Clin Calcium 2006;16(1):182-191. View abstract.

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. View abstract.

Durk H, Haase K, Saal J, et al. Nephrotic syndrome after injections of bovine cartilage and marrow extract. [letter] Lancet 1989;1:614.

Lewis CJ. Letter to reiterate certain public health and safety concerns to firms manufacturing or importing dietary supplements that contain specific bovine tissues. FDA. Available at:

Pavelka K, Gatterova J, Gollerova V, et al. A 5-year randomized controlled, double-blind study of a glycosaminoglycan polysulphuric acid complex (Rumalon) as a structure modifying therapy in osteoarthritis of the hip and knee. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 2000;8:335-42. View abstract.

Prudden JF, Balassa LL. 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;3:287-321.

Prudden JF. The treatment of human cancer with agents prepared from bovine cartilage. J Biol Response Mod 1985;4:551-84. View abstract.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors