Gelatin Uses, Benefits, & Recipes

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Gelatin Uses and Benefits plus recipes
Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Gelatin Uses, Benefits, & Recipes

Gelatin is an age-old food that, like collagen, has gained modern popularity for its potential to improve skin and slow aging. It is commonly known as just the main ingredient in foods like Jello but this simple food has so much more potential!

What is Gelatin?

Gelatin is a substance composed of amino acids that are derived from collagen. Collagen is well known for its skin and hair benefits and is similar to gelatin in many ways.

12 Uses for Gelatin and gelatins great health benefits

Gelatin is largely made up of the amino acids glycine and proline. It is derived from the bones, fibrous tissues, and organs of animals. These amino acids are needed not only for proper skin, hair, and nail growth but for optimal immune function and weight regulation.

As a population, we don’t consume these animal parts as much as we used to. Some health experts claim that our modern habit of eating large amounts of muscle meat (like steak) without eating the organs and connective tissue or making broth with the bones may be contributing to modern disease.

Glycine, which makes up about 1/3 of the amino acids in gelatin powder is anti-inflammatory and evidence is finding that it can help speed wound healing. Glycine in gelatin can also help improve sleep ease and quality.

How is Gelatin Made?

Gelatin is (and always has been) a highly nourishing food, as well as a very eco-friendly one. When all the more desirable parts of an animal have been removed, the skin, bones, and tendons are left. These are used to make gelatin and collagen.

Our grandmothers did this in their kitchen by using the whole animal for multiple purposes, such as making broth. Making bone broth is still a great way to get the benefits of gelatin, but now gelatin and collagen powders make it even easier to add these amino acids to foods and recipes. (See some of my favorite recipes below.)

Gelatin Uses

According to Nourishing Traditions and much of the information I’ve read from the Weston A. Price Foundation, there are various health benefits to Gelatin, including:

  • Supports skin, hair, and nail growth
  • Good for joints and can help joint recovery
  • Can help tighten loose skin (like the kind you get after having six babies in nine years…)
  • Can improve digestion since it naturally binds to water and helps food move more easily through the digestive tract
  • Rumored to help improve cellulite
  • Great source of dietary collagen (side note: collagen is too large to be absorbed by the skin, so those skin creams are pretty useless… get it internally and use coconut oil for lotion!)
  • Source of protein (though not a spectacular one) but its specific amino acids can help build muscle.

Gelatin Benefits

Gelatin has been added to formulas to support joint health, and many people do notice almost immediate joint relief from it, though the reason may not be so straightforward. As this great article from a PhD in Biology/Endocrinology (read it!) explains:

For a long time, gelatin’s therapeutic effect in arthritis was assumed to result from its use in repairing the cartilage or other connective tissues around joints, simply because those tissues contain so much collagen. (Marketers suggest that eating cartilage or gelatin will build cartilage or other collagenous tissue.) Some of the consumed gelatin does get incorporated into the joint cartilage, but that is a slow process, and the relief of pain and inflammation is likely to be almost immediate, resembling the anti-inflammatory effect of cortisol or aspirin.

Because of its ability to coat and heal the stomach, some experts suggest adding gelatin to the diet to help alleviate food and other allergies.

Why I Love Gelatin

In addition to the health benefits above about balancing out amino acids and being a good source of protein, I take gelatin for its skin, hair, and nail promoting effects. I have noticed a substantial difference in my skin tone and smoothness.

As an added benefit, it gives me extra protein and collagen and helps the absorption of other minerals. If you are trying to improve skin or joint health or do strength training, I’d recommend gelatin over whey proteins (which are often inflammatory and have added ingredients). I’ve also added it to food and drinks I make for my kids to help them better absorb nutrients.

Gelatin seems to be especially effective when taken with meats (balances out the amino acids) or on an empty stomach (to promote human growth hormone production).

Optimally, we’d be able to consume high-quality homemade bone broth (or a high-quality store bought one) a few times a day and would be well balanced and have no need for extra gelatin. Since I’m not there yet, I’ve actually been supplementing with a high quality powdered version. Not the stuff from the store, though you can make some healthy Jello variations with it.

Types of Gelatin and Collagen

Gelatin and collagen are often confused but they are slightly different. From a culinary perspective, gelatin produces the “gel” effect in foods, while collagen does not. Collagen can be more easily mixed into foods and drinks because it doesn’t gel. In general, these are the different types of gelatin and collagen:

  • Gelatin Powder– Best for use in recipes like marshmallows, Jello, or other things that gel. This is the brand I use.
  • Collagen PowderCollagen powder is best for mixing into hot or cold liquids or even into foods. Collagen is often used more like a supplement since it is so easy to mix.
  • Marine CollagenMarine collagen works just like the collagen powder above. It is a great option for those who avoid beef and pork.

Gelatin Recipes & Uses

So Gelatin is a wonderful supplement for health, but I’ve also found a plethora of culinary and beauty uses for it as well! Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Homemade Marshmallows

Healthy Homemade Marshmallow Recipe- Can even add probiotics- these are healthy and kids love them

This is definitely my kids’ favorite use of gelatin, and we even add probiotics to make them more healthy. The only ingredients are honey, gelatin, vanilla, and water, so they are a great alternative to store bought treats.

These are also easy to make and you can add cocoa powder or mint extract for flavor variations…

Here’s the recipe.

2. Hair Treatment

natural homemade healthy coconut shampoo kid approved

I got this tip from Pinterest and have been amazed at what an intensive conditioning and strengthening treatment it is! To make, stir 1 tablespoon of Gelatin powder into 1/2 cup of cool water until mixed. Add 1/2 cup warm/hot water, 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of honey to create a thick gel/liquid. Pour on to head and massage through hair and scalp. Leave on for at least 5 minutes and rinse with hot water. Shampoo as normal.

It is suggested to do this up to a few times a week to get desired hair thickness or strength, and then once a week for maintenance.

3. DIY Children’s Vitamins

Homeade Gummy Vitamins- Kids love these and they are gut friendly, inexpensive and customizeable to your child- for grown ups too

Most store bought chewable vitamins have a lot of sugar, dyes, and additives in them. These homemade chewable vitamins are a great alternative, plus your kids will get the healthy benefits of gelatin too!

There are endless flavor combinations, and they are simple to make at home! Here’s the recipe.

4. Thickening Shampoo

If you want thicker/stronger hair, adding a teaspoon of gelatin powder to your shampoo can give your hair that boost. It will also add texture and volume to hair immediately. If you use homemade shampoo like mine, you will only need to add about 1/2 tsp to a small batch. If you use a regular bottle shampoo, you can add a teaspoon or more for the desired effect!

5. Homemade Jello

healthy homemade jello no sugar

Homemade jello packets have some nasty fake ingredients, but it is simple to make a healthy version at home. With homemade Jello, you can customize the flavors, add vitamins, or even use delicious water kefir or kombucha as the base for a vitamin and probiotic boost! Plus, kids love it!

6. Wrinkle Reducer

You know those $50+ wrinkle reducer miracle creams that don’t work? Save a lot of money by just taking gelatin internally each day and using coconut oil for skincare! Gelatin is essentially cooked, powdered collagen (that ingredient they charge you an arm and a leg for that doesn’t even work well externally…).

Taking gelatin internally provides the body with the building blocks it needs to build great skin, hair, and nails from the inside out. And it helps reduce wrinkles and stretch marks, as I’ve found since mine are diminishing the more I take it.

7. Digestive Aid

Gut and Psychology Syndrome Review

Do you have constipation or digestive issues? Gelatin might help!

Nourishing Traditions and much of the information I’ve read from the Weston A. Price Foundation recommends Gelatin (usually in the form of bone broth) as a digestive aid, as it can soothe and help heal the digestive tract. I’ve noticed tremendous benefits in our son who we put on the GAPS protocol, and I’ve also seen daily intake helps keep bowels smooth and regular.

8. Joint Help

Gelatin also provides the building blocks for healthy joints and people with arthritis, joint injuries, or joint pain might notice a substantial difference from incorporating gelatin rich foods and supplements. Even WebMD talks about the joint uses of Gelatin:

Gelatin is used for weight loss and for treating osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and brittle bones (osteoporosis). Some people also use it for strengthening bones, joints, and fingernails. Gelatin is also used for improving hair quality and to shorten recovery after exercise and sports-related injury.

9. Skin Mask

Gelatin is most effective when used internally, but even externally, it can smooth and strengthen skin. Another tip: Mix 1 Tablespoon gelatin powder with 2 tablespoons warm water and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and apply to face. Leave on for 15 minutes and rinse with warm water.

10. Weight Loss

Kettlebells- great gift idea for men- fitness in under 10 mins a day

I haven’t tried it specifically for this purpose, but I’ve found forums of athletes and bodybuilders who use plain gelatin powder for weight loss and maintenance, as they claim that it can boost Human Growth Hormone (HGH) production and boost metabolism. In my opinion, gelatin has enough other health benefits that it would be worth trying for this purpose too, even if the only result is better skin, hair, nails, joints, and digestion.

The protocol for weight loss is to stop eating at least 3 hours prior to bedtime, and then consume at least 1 tablespoon of gelatin powder right before bed. These guys chewed it straight, but I’d highly recommend mixing it into a cup of chamomile tea by dissolving it in about 1/3 cup of cool water and then adding 2/3 cup of warm tea. Much better texture and taste!

11. Hormone Help

9 Tips to Help Balance Hormones

I’ve written about natural ways to balance hormones, and it turns out that Gelatin may help here too:

Too much estrogen in the body (which can be caused by all sorts of reasons including hormonal imbalances, and overexposure to phytoestrogens like those found in soy, and xenoestrogens found in plastics) can cause inflammation, infertility, and promote accelerated aging. The wonderful, and seemingly endless benefits of gelatin have anti-estrogenic effects which can help offset the effects of excess estrogen in the body.

12. Homemade Bone Broth

Delicious Homemade Bone Broth

The most cost effective and nutrient dense way to consume Gelatin is in the form of homemade bone broth or stock. Of course, bone broth isn’t as good for making marshmallows, gummy vitamins, jello, or hair masks, but it is an inexpensive way to consume gelatin. I also add gelatin powder to soups and stews for an extra gelatin boost, but if you don’t want to attempt all the other uses, at least consider incorporating homemade bone broth into your daily diet. Your gut will thank you!

I am not a doctor and don’t play one on the internet. If you decide to use gelatin as a supplement, check with your doctor or medical professional, especially if you have a medical condition.

To mix gelatin powder into liquid without clumps: First, mix into a small amount of cool water and stir well. Let sit for 2 minutes and then add the needed amount of warm water. This tempers the gelatin and makes it smooth. This is also how I take it daily by adding it to herbal teas this way. You can also get collagen powder which does not gel but easily dissolves in hot or cold water.

Do not add gelatin powder to things with fresh pineapple, kiwi, or papaya, as they will inactivate the thickening properties. Also, don’t boil it, as it will lose its thickening ability.

Where to Get Gelatin

I order gelatin online and use this brand since I’ve been able to verify that it comes from grass-fed, humanely raised animals. The gelatin powder will gel and is good for things like Jello while the collagen power is great for mixing into hot or cold drinks.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Ann Shippy, who is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and a certified Functional Medicine physician with a thriving practice in Austin, Texas. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

Have you ever used Gelatin? If not… what are you waiting for? Tell me how you use it below!

There are many gelatin uses and benefits. It is great for hair, skin, nails, digestion, immune function, joints and more.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


454 responses to “Gelatin Uses, Benefits, & Recipes”

  1. Jennifer Avatar

    HAIR TREATMENT FIX: I had the same problem with the hair treatment so here’s what I did. I mixed the 1 tabespoon of gelatin into the half cup cool water and then let it sit until it thickens (about 2 minutes) then I skipped the next step of adding the warm water because that is what was making it thin and watery! I then added the AC vinegar and honey and mixed until smooth. Very thick and gel like! Hope this helps!

    1. Kay Avatar

      Great idea! I have baby fine thin hair, so half a cup is all I need anyhow.

      What I have been doing is putting it in the fridge to chill, then pouring it into a hair coloring bottle. I find that makes applying it much easier, and there is less waste. I only use half a bottle at a time, so I store it in the fridge. When I want do do another treatment, I put it in warm water to dissolve to a gel and then apply.

  2. Terry Avatar

    How do you know that it’s from grass fed cows? I don’t see that claim on the description at Amazon.

  3. Karen Avatar

    Hello, first I want to thank you for all your valuable advices!!! I would like to know if I can incorporate the gelatin in hot tea? I have a thermos where I always have hot pu-erh black tea with rose buds and I drink that the whole day. Will the gelatin loose it’s affects in hot tea? Thank you!

  4. Heather Stevens Avatar
    Heather Stevens

    So I sent you a private message a while back, no response. Anyway, can someone please help me answer some questions regarding the use of gelatin? After reading the benefits of gelatin in this post last year, I purchased capsules at whole foods hoping to help me brittle, weak, peeling nails. I took a month’s supply and was shocked! My nails were long, strong, and beautiful. I bought another bottle and about half way through, my nails became weak and all broke off. I finished the bottle but still no luck. Three or four months later I decided to try again. The exact same thing happened. The first bottle gave me long and strong nails, until it didn’t. What the heck is going on?! Why would it work so well for a month and then back to square one? Someone, please, respond. Thanks

    1. Kathy Avatar

      All I can think of is that you ran short of another nutrient that was needed along w/the gelatin to work on your nails. When you took a break you replenished your body of that nutrient & then ran short again. Maybe look up what other nutrients are needed for nails too?

    2. Robynn Avatar

      Did you start polishing your new long nails? This happened to me when I used ‘drying drops’ between layers on each layer of nail polish. My beautiful nails seemed to shatter under the paint the third time I painted my nails like this. I have sensitive nails and the chemicals in regular nail polish will cause my nails to peel too.

      A fantastic nutrition Biotin product is Naturnetics HairAnew this has other synergistic nutrients for hair and nails. I saw immediate repair results. I discovered it after my nails started peeling back and I had resort to cutting as close to the quick as possible. You can buy this at Amazon. My review was the top review last time I was there.

  5. Shelly Avatar

    You just contradicted your self. Why use expensive collagen creams when the molecule can’t absorb yet you add on that gelatin is a great mask for skin…? IDK…

  6. Dawn Viola Avatar
    Dawn Viola

    Katie, thank you so much for the info on the gelatin. I’m going to look for the grass-fed brand you suggested 🙂

  7. Aimee Avatar

    Can’t wait to try out some of these ideas! I already know about making lollies but there are so many other great ideas there! I’m waiting on a shipment of Great Lakes gelatin to arrive and when it does I’ll have so much to do with it, woo!

    I love making lollies at home with juice and stevia, I’ve even made Chikko Baby knock-offs with cacao, raw honey and coconut milk, and kombucha ones. But I’m keen to try the marshmallows and hair treatment also.

    Thanks for the info!

  8. Renukah Avatar

    When you take it as a supplement, do you capsal it or mix with liquid and drink? I don’t always have the time or space to make broth and other goodies, but want to make sure I get a healthy dose in me!

  9. Joy Avatar

    For the vitamins, have you tried adding fish oil? fish oil usually has terrible after taste, so I am wondering if it can be mixed with vit C powder in a homemade vitamin?

    1. Charlene Avatar

      Hi! I know this is late but we have been adding cod liver oil to the chewable vitamins with great results. My kids don’t even know it’s in there!

  10. Jessica Rieken Avatar
    Jessica Rieken

    Hi! I love your site. Thanks for all the helpful tips.
    Do you have any info on beef gelatin vs. sea vegetable gelatin? Living the the UK I cannot get the Great Lakes brand on Thank you!

    1. Christine Avatar

      Hi… did you ever find an answer to this question. UK seems suspiciously short of good gelatin sources! And we don’t want to pay the import duty on Great Lakes stuff.

    2. Alicia Avatar

      I use NOW beef gelatine and buy it in 4 Lb. jars to save oodles. They will ship to you in the U.K.

      You can get a 4 Lb. in a BPA safe jar of wonderful Gelatin produced by NOW on eBay for $38.39 PLUS Shipping (ask the seller to help you save money or time, whichever matters most to you).


      Or 1 Lb for $21.05 with FREE SHIPPING (enough for a few months, not a whole year) on eBay.

  11. kim yamaguchi Avatar
    kim yamaguchi

    I have the same brand of gelatin that you recommend. So far I have only used it to make homemade gummies (that 2 of 4 kids LOVE). I am really excited about all the other benefits/uses it has 🙂
    I made homemade bone broth (and was sooooooooo happy to see how jiggly it got after being in the fridge). I used it to make rice, only adding enough water to cook (as the bone broth was completely jiggly). It completely absorbed into the rice. We eat a lot of rice in this house (being part Asian and all, it’s a staple) and the thought that we’re getting lots of goodness with it is just awesome.

    1. Mick Avatar

      I ordered this gelatin and can’t wait to experiment. I make bone broth regularly because I am on a Paleo diet, but I’m going to start incorporaing gelatin into my everyday diet.

      To make jiggly chicken bone broth, this is what I do:

      I buy two roast chickens from Whole Foods and when I’m finished using them up (I save the bones as I use the meat), I make a broth by using a mixutre organic vegetable broth and (filtered) water as the starting liquid. I add the bones from both chickens and gently boil it down, stirring it every once in a while, until the liquid is about half the original amount. I strain twice with cheescloth and then refridgerate. After it’s solidified, I’ll reheat and drink a bowl of it in the morning for breakfast.

      I pick the bones again and save the meat for the dog and add the gelatinous liquid to his grass-fed kibble. He LOVES it!

  12. Shojib Ashrafi Na Ashrafi Avatar
    Shojib Ashrafi Na Ashrafi

    Keep those meal tickets as evidence. Lawyer up, and you’re set through college with a
    starter home. Just a suggestion, but try and steer clear of the fast food from now on.
    Feel better champ!

  13. Eileen Brown Loughman Avatar
    Eileen Brown Loughman

    Have you ever noticed that the jell o recipe calls for pineapple juice?

  14. Miranda Smith Avatar
    Miranda Smith

    This sounds amazing! I have a hormone imbalance that is messed up by the pituitary gland &/or the hypothalamus. It in turn causes all of the health problems mentioned in your article. I’m going to try this & will post results later. Thanks for the info & time researching this.

  15. Hedvika Avatar

    Hi. Today was my second time I’ve tried to do the gelatine hair treatment and the mixture Im getting is not even close to be think let alone gel :(( what do I do wrong??? Half cup in my measure jug is around 100ml. Is that correct?
    Also would like to ask how do you take gelatine internally? with that tea all the time?

    Thank you very much. Hedvika

    1. Shelly McGuire Avatar
      Shelly McGuire

      Yes! I have the same problem with the hair conditioner not being thick. I followed the directions exactly and used the type of gelatin you use!! Please help 🙂

      1. Miranda Smith Avatar
        Miranda Smith

        I wonder if the shampoo/conditioner may have a chemical in it similar to the fruit mentioned in the article?

        1. kristina Avatar

          Hello Katie,
          Is regular gelatin o.k. to use? I live in Europe and can’t order the product that you recommend? Or do you know of recources in Europe?
          Thanks, Kristina.

        2. Allyson Turner Avatar
          Allyson Turner

          Hi, I love this website so much! Seriously the most valuable health info I have ever come across, and I’ve been into the “health journey” for years. In any event, I finally bought some Great Lakes Gelatin, but I held off because when I called the company several months ago I could have sworn that the woman told me that their cattle resource was somewhere in South America, and that she couldn’t verify whether, or not they were fed gmo corn. I will call again because I finally got the stuff and really like it, but I am somewhat concerned…

  16. Oz Avatar

    Hi! great post, i really want to try some of this specially for loose skin (i lost about 40 pounds and my skin is just hanging everywhere) could you give me the portions for the gelatin marshmallows? they sound simple and delicious, Thank you!

  17. Deanna Avatar

    Can gelatin be used for babies under 1? My son has bad eczema and I’m concerned about his gut health. I just started him on a probiotic so I’m hoping that helps him some.

      1. Deanna Avatar

        Hi Miranda! You know I never tried the gelatin bc I never found out if it was safe for infants. He’s 8 months and I just started solids and roasted a chicken and made bone broth from that since it has natural gelatin. Not sure if the probiotics are helping, but they sure aren’t hurting! I wonder if he would be worse off if he wasn’t using them. I’m using garden of life raw kids since they’re approved for 3 months and older 🙂

  18. Jennifer Mapp Avatar
    Jennifer Mapp

    I eagerly tried the gelatin that you mentioned in your post, however, I simply mixed the non-gelling type with water only to find myself having terrible diarrhea, extreme nausea and a horrible headaches for two days. I tried it twice a week apart and the reaction was the same.

    Have you ever heard of someone having this reaction to gelatin, and if so, do you think it will resolve itself over time?


    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I have never heard of this type of reaction… how much did you take?

      1. Jennifer Mapp Avatar
        Jennifer Mapp

        Only one tablespoon mixed in water. Even more strange, is that when the symptoms finally subsided, I actually felt rejuvenated-not tired and weak. Very interesting experience, to say the least!

        1. Lorin Beatty Avatar
          Lorin Beatty

          It probably caused a detoxifying reaction (as mentioned it can improve liver function). I was once was laid out for three days (sick at both ends) from eating the tiniest bit of cilantro – which is known to cause detox of heavy metals in your body).

          1. Tori Avatar

            I know I’m reading this months after the last post, but I agree that it is the body detoxing. It stinks that you have to endure pain and misery to clean the body, but if you stick to it then it is worth it in the end!

          2. Krista Gordon Avatar
            Krista Gordon

            I’m beginning to wonder the same! I read this post a year ago and tried implementing 1 tbsp added to my tea in the evening and each time I did so, I felt horrible with indigestion – really intense…not sure what else to call it. I was more interested in getting rest than trying to keep taking the gelatin, so I stopped. I’m pregnant now and this evening tried adding just 1 tsp to my tea and I feel the same again: major indigestion, almost vomited…and 1 week ago when i added it to my bolognese sauce (the recipe called for 8 tbsp for a 12 portion meal), and it gave me and my son diarrhea! So curious about if I can keep taking it and if I’ll feel better eventually if I do. I got the Great Lakes beef gelatin. I’ve also had a parasite issue, so I know that detoxifying is a major deal for me – although, that is NOT my goal in taking it right now….just want to have a healthy pregnancy!

        2. Linda Mandala Avatar
          Linda Mandala

          I just read another webpage on information about gelatin and the Dr. there said if you have these kinds of reactions you may be histamine resistant and not able to handle gelatin as it raises histamine levels.I do not know about this as I was just trying to find out a good brand to buy but anyone who is having adverse reactions might like to check this out.
          Thanks everyone for such great information.

    2. joey Avatar

      I get nauseous from regular gelatin it seems but I heard many people react just fine to the hydrolysate collagen . . Which sounds like you get sick from that too?? Never know, listen to our bodies.. I am going to try the hydrolysate soon and hope it works for me if not I am done… Not sure if it would just be detox or just not for me.. Either way I rather detox softly. . . I hope it works for me!! I have a feeling it will. I just dissolved some regular gelatin in some hot water. . even added some lemon juice to it fresh squeezed from the lemon. I feel fine… hmm.

  19. Kristen Pressnell Avatar
    Kristen Pressnell

    I made your marshmallow recipe for my kiddos and they loved it! I plan to make the recipe again this week. I added the probiotics to it. I love knowing my kids are eating healthy life giving snacks! Thank you for the recipe!

  20. Alex Avatar

    How much Gelatin do you recommend as a daily dosage? I bought 550mg capsules and it says on the bottle take 4 capsules 1-3 times a day. I find this quite a lot. What are your thoughts?

    1. Heather Nicole Jackson Avatar
      Heather Nicole Jackson

      I just bought a bottle of capsules as well and it says to take 2 after every meal and right before bedtime. I imagine too much would never hurt. Maybe try take 2 capsules, twice a day.

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