Immunity Boosting, Raw, and Unprocessed Ratfish Liver Oil
Scandinavians considered the oil derived from the large oily liver of the ratfish as a precious gift from the sea. They used this rare oil for maintaining general health as well as for specific purposes, including wound healing and the treatment of general debility, infections, irritations of the respiratory and alimentary tracts, and glandular disease.
Background and Significance of the Ratfish
The shark is a member of the Elasmobranch subclass of fish that includes the ratfish (Chimaera monstrosa). Nearly all species of sharks are known to have an extraordinary resistance to the growth of tumors and infections (1,2). Many investigations have indicated an extremely low incidence of cancer in sharks or even that no cases of cancer in sharks have been recorded (1,2). The emerging hypothesis is that n-3-polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and other shark liver oil (SLO) components may exert anti-carcinogenic effects (3). SLO contains both alkylglycerols (AKG) and squalene that are anti-carcinogenic and anti-bacterial agents and have been used as an ancient remedy among the fishermen along the west coast of Norway and Sweden. It has been used for wound healing, the treatment of irritations of the respiratory and alimentary tracts and lymphadenopathy. Alkylglycerols have been in use in northern Europe for more than 50 years to assist with the prevention and treatment of cancer. They are also in widespread European use to help the immune system function more efficiently to combat infection and respiratory ailments such as asthma. New science is extending the use of this novel nutrient into the realm of anti-aging, especially for immune cells and the cardiovascular system. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can contribute to cell membrane function in ways that help cells regulate health more efficiently – the opposite of the trend of aging.
The Chimaeras are a very primitive group of fish, with skeletons composed of cartilage instead of bone, dating back for more than 300 million years. They are true survivors from before the dinosaurs, and have changed very little since. They may actually be the oldest and most enigmatic groups of fishes alive today. The ratfish is an extraordinary fish found in all the world's oceans, close to the bottom, at depths of 300–500 meters, with a reported maximum depth of 1,663 meters. These fish are almost half shark and half ray, with smooth skin, big sparkling green eyes designed to see in the dark depths, a rabbit-like face, and a small mouth surrounded by large lips. The nose of the ratfish is studded with electric sensors able to detect the faint electrical signals given off whenever bottom dwelling prey – including crabs, snails, starfish, marine worms, urchins, clams, shrimp, and small fish – use their muscles, and sensitive enough to detect their heartbeats. Their bodies taper to an exceptionally long threadlike tail, and together with their rodent-like teeth designed for crushing the shells of their prey, has earned them the common name “ratfish.”
Where can the Ratfish be Found?
Distributed in Eastern Atlantic, mostly in Northern Norway and Iceland, Skagerrak and Kattegat south to Morocco including western Mediterranean (some isolated records from eastern part), Azores and Madeira Islands. Records from South Africa are questionable. Reported from Oshima, Japan.
Figure 1. The red areas on the map show the distribution of Ratfish (Chimaera monstrosa).
Extraction of Liver Oil
The ancient Norse Vikings were consumers of liver oils, in particular codfish liver oil, Chimaera monstrosa (ratfish) liver oil, and shark liver oils. Codfish liver oil was used for the maintenance of general health, particularly during the cold months. These months are characterised by low sunlight intensity and an increased risk of hypovitaminosis D (vitamin D deficiency). Such a deficiency can have tragic consequences in light of the fact that vitamin D has been shown to play very important roles in brain, heart, immune system and bone health. Unlike codfish, Chimaeras are mainly confined to the very deep waters and as such were not in plentiful supply for the Vikings, who considered the oil from their liver to be a rare and precious gift from the sea, naming it ‘Gold of the Ocean’. The ancient Norse Vikings and fishermen were well-versed in isolating liver oils and used two very rare, and largely unknown, methods. They had a deep understanding of nature, since they lived in the wild, and both methods were based on nature’s principles. The fish liver must have a specific appearance and come from a fish of a specific age otherwise it was never used for the production of liver oil. You can also see at the bottom right hand side of the image a ceramic knife. We never use metal to manipulate the livers because of fear of oxidation which can adversely affect the final quality of the product.
Figure 2. The picture shows a team member is removing a fish liver by use of 'ceramic' knife.
The quality of fish liver oil is highly dependent on the quality of the liver just like the quality of olive oil is dependent on the quality of the olives. A fresh ratfish and codfish liver is pale with an almost cream-coloured appearance. It should also be beautifully plump and very soft to the touch. Ideally, the rendering process should begin immediately following the removal of the fresh livers and at least before putrefaction has commenced. This results in the lightest coloured oil. The process used to capture the oil was remarkably simple and probably has its origins in ancient time. The Ancient Nordic people observed that fish livers vary in appearance, size and texture depending on the seasons etc. The raw oil naturally separates from the livers without any intervention. This can be done by allowing fresh fish livers to freeze in the cold weather and then moving them to a room which is at the temperature of the Norwegian summer months, the livers will begin to thaw and at the same time the raw liver oil naturally separates from the livers. This ancient method based on nature’s principles captures & preserves the freshness, nutrients and health benefits of the oil. The nutritional content of an oil produced using this age-old method is identical to what you would find in the liver oil of a ‘living’ wild codfish. We make no attempt to alter the nutrient levels. Nature dictates the nutrient levels in our oils. That is how it was created by ancient Nordics and that is how it should always be.
Figure 3. The oil separates from the liver without any manipulation.
An Ancient Remedy Used by the Norwegian Vikings
The ancient Vikings and Scandinavian fishermen considered the oil derived from the large oily liver of the ratfish as a precious gift from the sea. They used this rare oil for maintaining general health as well as for specific purposes, including wound healing and the treatment of general debility, infections, irritations of the respiratory and alimentary tracts, and glandular disease. It was also applied topically to decrease inflammation and pain, to promote the healing of wounds, and as a skin elixir. The liver of the ratfish is very large, constituting approximately 60% of its total body weight, and contains an exceedingly high proportion of oil. Ratfish liver oil (RLO) is one of the finest antioxidant lubricants known, having been used for guns and fine delicate instruments. Some fishermen used ratfish liver oil as a lubricant and rust preventer. Its characteristics in common with Sperm whale oil, which was used as a lubricant for the finest pocket watches.
Alkylglycerols (AKGs) have been used in Northern Europe for more than half a century to assist with the prevention and treatment of cancer, a disease that hijacks biological processes and uses them to its own advantage. The human body has developed many strategies to use nutrition to help combat this problem, often means that healthy cells can use a nutrient to enhance their wellbeing while the very same nutrient can help to kill cancer cells. This is a common mechanism with many nutrients such as tocotrienol E, quercetin, curcumin, green tea, and DHA.
We now know that AKGs can readily accumulate in cell membranes, naturally binding to the membrane lipids. Human cells can use AKGs for healthy purposes including cell signaling and antioxidant defense. Cancer cells appear to have genuine and serious problems with AKGs, which are ether lipids that are abundant in the liver of some Elasmobranch fish species such as the ratfish and certain sharks. AKG are one of the most abundant compounds in RLO. Shark liver oil from Centrophorus squamosus (SLO), or alkyl-Gro mix from this source, have several in vivo biological activities including stimulation of hematopoiesis and immunological defenses (4), sperm quality improvement, or anti-tumor and anti-metastasis activities. Several mechanisms are suggested for these multiple activities, resulting from incorporation of alkyl-Gro into membrane phospholipids, and lipid signaling interactions. Natural alkyl-Gro mix from SLO contains several alkyl-Gro, varying by chain length and unsaturation. Six prominent constituents of natural alkyl-Gro mix, namely 12:0, 14:0, 16:0, 18:0, 16:1 n-7, and 18:1 n-9 alkyl-Gro, were synthesized and tested for anti-tumor and anti-metastatic activities on a model of grafted tumor in mice (3LL cells) (4,5). 16:1 and 18:1 AKG showed strong activity in reducing lung metastasis number, while saturated AKG had weaker (16:0) or no (12:0, 14:0, 18:0) effect. Multiple compounds and mechanisms are probably involved in the multiple activities of natural AKG (4,5).
Key Nutritional Features of Ratfish Liver Oil (RLO)
I. Ratfish Liver Oil contains Fat-Soluble Vitamins (A, D3 and E), Phytosterols (campesterol, stigmasterol and ∆5-avenasterol) and a wide spectrum of naturally occurring Fatty Acids (omegas 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, & 11).
II. The long-chain omega-3s (EPA and DHA) - which come mainly from fish and seafood (particularly fatty fish) – are essential fats meaning that the body cannot make them from scratch but must get them from food.
III. Omega-3s support healthy brain, eye, and immune system function. EPA and DHA contribute to the normal function of the heart, help keep blood pressure in the healthy range, and support flexible joints.
IV. In the fetus and in breastfed infants DHA contributes to normal brain and eye development. Besides these nutrients, Ratfish Liver Oil has been found to contain exceptionally high amounts of biologically active lipids (fatty substances) called “Alkylglycerols” making it very different from other fish liver oils.
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