Cuttlefish bone, or cuttlebone, is a hard, brittle structure present in all members of the Sepiidae family, or cuttlefish. Contrary to its name, a cuttlebone is not a bone, but a hard shell of cuttlefish, a squid-like cephalopod.
The cuttlebone, in a cuttlefish, is filled with gas which allows the cuttlefish to maintain its’ buoyancy in the water. Cuttlefish, depending on the species, implodes if it goes beyond 660 feet to 1970 feet. Due to this, cuttlefish are generally found in the shallow water, primarily on the continental shelf.
Cuttlebone is found along the East and South Asian coasts, the Mediterranean, Western Europe, as well as entire Australian and African coasts.
Uses of Cuttlefish
Polishing PowderHumans have used cuttlebone for centuries. In the bygone era, polishing power used to be prepared from cuttlebones. This powder was then either added to toothpaste or used as an absorbent or an antacid.
Dietary SupplementIn the modern age, cuttlebone is used as a calcium-rich nutritional supplement for pets like reptiles, chinchillas, caged birds, hermit crabs, and snails.
Herbal RemediesCuttlebone is rich in carbon and calcium, and also has got nearly a dozen amino acids. A cuttlebone is typically boiled, dried, and powdered and used as an herbal remedy.
In traditional medicine, the cuttlebone has warm and salty properties and is used to treat problems with the stomach, kidney, and liver. Cuttlebone powder was used to harmonize the stomach, cease bleeding, and improve kidney deficiency.
When used internally, cuttlebone powder was known to stop uterine bleeding, prevent premature ejaculation, and enuresis. Some are even known to use it for intestinal disorders and acid reflux disease.
Topically, cuttlefish bone is used for treating skin rash, lesions, and ulcers.
Jewelry MakingDue to its curved shape and inherent ability to withstand high temperatures, cuttlebone found use as a mold-making material in jewelry making and the making of small sculptural objects.
Biomedical Use:Researchers have been studying the usage of cuttlebone in bone tissue engineering as well as other areas.
Calcium carbonate is the major component (90%) of cuttlefish. But more than calcium carbonate, what makes the cuttlefish bone important is the presence of β-chitin, aragonite, as well as an abundance of bioinorganic elements like strontium, iron, magnesium, and trace amounts of zinc and copper.
These bioinorganic elements are combined naturally in their optimal quantities in a bone structure. The presence of these elements enhances the bioactivity of biomedical products that contain cuttlebone.
Researchers at Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) have designed cellulose-based scaffolds filled with cuttlebone filling and small calcium alginate capsules aimed at minor oral cavity defects.
Since both are of natural origin, the body identifies these and is stimulated to grow new bone. Once the cuttlebone and calcium alginate disintegrates, a new bone is formed in the cavity. As every single component is natural, their disintegration is harmless to humans.
KTU researchers have also developed two other pharmaceutical cuttlefish products – gel for application on superficial wounds, as well as suppositories for treating hemorrhoids.
Despite the renewed interest, cuttlebone has a non-existent presence in commercial healthcare space mainly due to the worries about possible side effects like allergies, contamination from organic products present in the sea as well as possible heavy metal contamination.