Arthritis is a disease characterised by inflammation of joints. There are 100 types of arthritis.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease characterised by degeneration of bone tissue and is the most common form of arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis are inflammatory forms of arthritis. Gout is a type of recurrent inflammatory arthritis characterised by deposition of uric acid crystals deposited in the joints.
Septic arthritis involves infection and inflammation of the joint.
Joint pain, swelling, inflammation and reduced joint function are the main symptoms of arthritis. Other symptoms include weight loss, fatigue, malaise, poor sleep.
Treatment involves physical therapy, lifestyle changes, orthopaedic bracing, painkillers and disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs. Joint replacement surgery is required in some cases of arthritis. Alternative medicine is also used in treatment of arthritis.
What is green lipped mussel?
Perna Canaliculus or green lipped mussel is native to New Zealand. This item is not famous outside New Zealand except as a processed food item and is available in American seafood market and restaurants.
Whats really striking about this mussel, is that it has a green stripe on its shell and a peculiar green lip that is present inside in the shell. The main reason for which green lipped mussel is thought of as an alternative remedy is its anti-inflammatory property.
However various compounds with antioxidant, anti-hypertensive, bioadhesive and anti-microbial properties have been identified in mussel meat, proteins and peptides.
The lipid fraction of this mussel is said to have anti-inflammatory effect which works in combination with non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and protects the stomach from side effects.
Bioactive compounds benefit the gastric microflora which is therapeutic in chronic inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
A powdered preparation of whole mussel without shell was found to have little or no anti-inflammatory activity.
Thereafter a special extraction process was utilised to prepare a lipid rich fraction of green lipped mussel. This extract was found to have omega 3 fatty acids –eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexanoic acid.
These omega 3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect by inhibiting the COX and LOX pathways of inflammation. However even lipid rich oil from this mussel containing low concentrations of omega 3 fatty acids also shows anti-inflammatory activity.
This suggests that there are a variety of compounds in green lipped mussel extract which have therapeutic and anti-inflammatory effect.
How does green lipped mussel benefit in arthritis?
Coulson et. al report that anti-inflammatory activity and ability to modulate intestinal bacteria, makes green lipped mussel extract beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
1. Green lipped mussel has anti-inflammatory effect
Lyprinol is a bioactive lipid rich extract of green lipped mussel. In an animal model of arthritis, Lyprinol is found to inhibit inflammation by preventing production of inflammatory mediators.
Additionally it is safer than NSAIDs ( non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) on stomach and does not affect platelet function.
Seatone, another proprietary blend of green mussel extract is also found to exert anti-inflammatory extract.
As mentioned previously it is not only the presence of omega 3 fatty acids that contribute to the anti-inflammatory effect of green lipped mussel extract.
Furan fatty acids present in this extract are found to exhibit more potent anti-inflammatory activity that omega 3 fatty acid portion of this extract in animal model of arthritis.
Similarly polysaccharide obtained from green lipped mussel also show anti-inflammatory property.
What does this mean?
Omega 3 fatty acids and other compounds found in the green lipped mussel contribute to its anti-inflammatory property.
2. It has anti-arthritic effect
Lee et. al have demonstrated that feeding green lipped mussel extract brings about a significant decrease in production of inflammatory proteins like interleukins.
Inhibition of COX enzyme- an inflammatory enzyme is a manner by which NSAIDs act in order to reduce pain and inflammation.
Lyprinol also strongly inhibits COX enzymes and its activity is found to be better than fish oil.
Lyprinol also inhibits another inflammatory pathway called LOX enzyme pathway. Green lipped mussel extract protects from ulcers caused by painkillers like acetylsalicylic acid and indomethacin.
Research shows that anti-arthritic property of Lyprinol is better than that of anti-arthritic drugs such as indomethacin and ibuprofen.
A study investigating the effect of green lipped extract in arthritis, reported that 75% patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis experienced reduction in pain in 1 month of treatment.
What does this mean?
Various animal studies and clinical trials confirm the anti-arthritic effect of green lipped mussel extract. It inhibits inflammation by inhibiting the activity of enzymes COX and LOX and also protects the stomach from ulcers caused by consuming painkillers used for arthritis treatment.
3. It fares better than fish oil in reducing inflammation
Omega 3 fatty acids present in lipid extract of green lipped mussel are primarily held responsible for its anti-inflammatory effect .
A clinical trial was conducted to compare the effects of green lipped mussel extract and fish oil in osteoarthritis- both are rich source of omega 3 fatty acids.
Those who received green lipped mussel extract showed significant improvement in comparison to those who received fish oil. They experienced 89% decrease in pain and 91% improvement in quality of life.
Lyprinol, the patented extract of green lipped mussel,is (as per claims):
• 100 times more potent than Max EPA
• 125 times more potent than Green lipped mussel powder
• 175 times more potent than Evening Primrose Oil
• 175 times more potent than Salmon Oil
• 200 times more potent than Flax Oil in controlling the joint swelling associated with
What does this mean?
Research shows that green lipped mussel extract has more potent anti-inflammatory effect compared to fish oil which is a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids. It is also proven that Lyprinol, patented extract of green lipped mussel is more potent that other rich sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
4. It is effective in treatment of osteoarthritis
Korean researchers investigated the efficacy of Lyprinol on osteoarthritis of knee and hip . Individuals were given 2 capsules of Lyprinol twice daily for 8 weeks.
Within 4 weeks 53% patients experienced reduction in pain and symptoms while at the end of 8 weeks 80% experienced pain relief and improvement in joint function.
Another clinical trial investigated the effect of high dose green lipped mussel extract on osteoarthritis. The dosage was around 3000mg for 8 weeks.
The extract greatly improved joint function, reduced joint pain and stiffness. Additionally it also improved gastric symptoms. Since the use of painkillers gives rise to gastric side effect, it was found that the extract improved gastric function in order to exert therapeutic effect.
Green lipped mussel extract is found to be as effective as glucosamine sulphate in osteoarthritis treatment.
Brien et al reviewed the data investigating the efficacy of green lipped mussel extract for osteoarthritis and reported that green lipped mussel extract is superior in comparison to placebo for mild or moderate arthritis. Also it is beneficial as adjunctive treatment.
What does this mean?
Green lipped mussel extract is found to reduce pain and improve joint function in osteoarthritis within 4-8 weeks.
Few scientists find green lipped mussel ineffective in arthritis
A review study reveals that there is insufficient evidence to comment on green lipped mussel’s efficacy in arthritis but 2 out of 5 clinical trials reveal that it is indeed beneficial for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
What does this mean?
Few research studies have found that other preparations of green lipped mussel extract, apart from Lyprinol, are ineffective in arthritis treatment.
There is no prescribed dosage of green lipped mussel extract for arthritis. Doses as high as 3000mg are found to be safe.
Lyprinol is the patented extract of green lipped mussel and each capsule contains 50mg of the concentrated lipid extract. The recommended dosage is 2-3 capsules twice a day for 1-2 weeks till therapeutic effects are observed, after which the dose can be reduced to 1-2 capsule once or twice a day.
Time taken for it to act differs with every individual; some may need to take it for more than 4 weeks to observe any effect.
There are no distinct side effects reported with green lipped mussel extract consumption. Few gastric side effects may occur. In rare cases liver dysfunction has been reported.
Green lipped mussel extract should be avoided in pregnancy and lactation and also by those who suffer from shellfish allergy.
Green lipped mussel extract contains a high % of omega 3 fatty acids and other bioactive compounds that demonstrate potent anti-inflammatory effect. Another plus point is that is safe for the stomach compared to non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
These properties make it therapeutic for arthritis and can be used as an adjunct treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
However its cost should be kept mind, it is a fairly expensive supplement with limited research supporting its efficacy in arthritis. You can browse the website for other inexpensive alternative treatments for arthritis.