The Green Lipped Mussel (Perna Canaliculus) is a bivalve marine mollusk (mussel) native from the cost of New Zealand. It is a common ingredient on the Maori diet, a local population of the country. It has a green strip on the back of the shell and a bright green lip inside, near the border. Hence the name!
At one point, we realized that there were fewer people with arthritis in certain parts of New Zealand. The low amount of arthritis reported in coast-living Maori when compared with in-land Maori or European population, got the scientific community thinking. Were there possible benefits of consuming green lipped mussel?
Turns out, there are anti-arthritis properties in these little green mates!
The green lipped mussel oil has demonstrated anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-arthritic properties, among others. A lipid-rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) is the active component of the mussel. Besides the omega-3 PUFAs commonly found in fish oils, the mussel oil has furan fatty acids (F-acids). The F-acids are antioxidative fatty acids that affect the cellular membrane, reducing its oxidative risk.
This scientific study compared the anti-inflammatory effects of the ETA in a mussel oil (Lyprinol) with salmon, cod liver, flaxseed, and two mixed fish oils.
The study showed that the ETA rich green lipped mussel oil was clearly superior to other omega-3 sources at lessening inflammation.
In particular, the mussel oil lowered the animals’ arthritis scores by a range of 42-75%, compared to only a reduction of only 31% from conventional omega-3 sources. It also reduced rear paw swelling by 96-98% compared to a reduction of only 7-38% from common omega-3s.
What was also remarkable was that the dose of mussel oil was significantly less than that used for the standard omega-3 supplements.
In addition to containing ETA, the mussels are also a substantial source of glycosaminoglycans. The role of glycosaminoglycans is explained here. In short, these amino sugars are raw materials or building blocks that are used by cells to ensure healthy joints.
Another thing to keep in mind when taking fish oil is that the quality of supplements varies enormously. If you aren’t careful about selecting a reputable product, you could actually be doing harm to your health. This is because some oils are high in mercury or other contaminants, aren’t completely natural, or aren’t fresh. The level of DHA that you’re getting also varies.
The inflammatory process – its initiation, maintenance, and resolution – is influenced by cell-signaling molecules. One of these molecules are the prostanoids. The prostanoids are a family of lipid mediators generated through the oxygenation of arachidonic acid (AA), a type of PUFAs.
The oxygenation of the AA is a result of the action of cyclooxygenases (COX), which are lipid metabolizing enzymes. There are two types of COX: COX-1 and COX-2. The COX-2 is the more important in the prostanoid formation.
The PUFAs presents in the green lipped mussel oil inhibit the COX enzymes. This anti-COX activity diminishes the oxygenation process of AA and hence, the generation of prostanoid, which in turn decreases the inflammation.
Put it in simpler words, the mussel oil avoids the synthases of the substances that promotes and perpetuates the inflammation in the body.
Because of its action in the inflammatory process, the green lipped mussel oil has been studied in the treatment of diseases like gastritis, asthma and chronic diseases like osteoarthritis.
Especially in arthritis, there have been animals and human trials comparing its therapeutic effects. One study analyzed the effect of supplementation intake of mussel oil in patients with knee osteoarthritis and found improvement in the knee pain score, stiffness and mobility! The improvement was already observed at the 4 weeks of treatment and maintained until the 8 weeks. Do you see how great this is??
The green lipped mussel oil has proved to be non-gastro toxic.
In fact, it can have a protective action against the gastrointestinal irritation secondary to the long-term intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, commonly used in diseases like arthritis.
Nevertheless, there’s been demonstrated some side effect as itching, diarrhea, swelling, and others, especially in people with mollusk and fish sensitivity. THIS IS A SHELLFISH. In rare cases, it has been associated with liver problems. So I recommend consulting with a physician in case of any doubt.
The optimal dose of the mussel oil as a dietary supplement is still unknown. However, it has been used in the range of 1.050-1.150 mg/day, up to a high dose of 3.000 mg/day for arthritis treatment. The greatest benefits have been achieved with this higher dose.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results not typical. Individual results may vary.
Bierer, T. L., & Bui, L. M. (2002). Improvement of arthritic signs in dogs fed green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus). The Journal of nutrition, 132(6), 1634S-1636S.
Brien, S., Prescott, P., Coghlan, B., Bashir, N., & Lewith, G. (2008). Systematic review of the nutritional supplement Perna Canaliculus (green-lipped mussel) in the treatment of osteoarthritis. QJM: An International Journal of Medicine, 101(3), 167-179.
Coulson, S., Vecchio, P., Gramotnev, H., & Vitetta, L. (2012). Green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) extract efficacy in knee osteoarthritis and improvement in gastrointestinal dysfunction: a pilot study. Inflammopharmacology, 20(2), 71-76.
Halpern, G. M. (2000). Anti-inflammatory effects of a stabilized lipid extract of Perna canaliculus (Lyprinol®). Allergie et immunologie, 32(7), 272-278.
McPhee, S., Hodges, L. D., Wright, P. F. A., Wynne, P. M., Kalafatis, N., Harney, D. W., & Macrides, T. A. (2007). Anti-cyclooxygenase effects of lipid extracts from the New Zealand green-lipped mussel, Perna canaliculus. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 146(3), 346356.
Treschow, A. P., Hodges, L. D., Wright, P. F. A., Wynne, P. M., Kalafatis, N., & Macrides, T. A. (2007). Novel anti-inflammatory ω-3 PUFAs from the New Zealand green-lipped mussel, Perna canaliculus. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 147(4), 645-656.
Wakimoto, T., Kondo, H., Nii, H., Kimura, K., Egami, Y., Oka, Y., ... & Asakawa, T. (2011). Furan fatty acid as an anti-inflammatory component from the green-lipped mussel Perna canaliculus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(42), 17533-17537.
Whitehouse, M. W., Macrides, T. A., Kalafatis, N., Betts, W. H., Haynes, D. R., & Broadbent, J. (1997). Antiinflammatory activity of a lipid fraction (Lyprinol) from the NZ green-lipped mussel. Inflammopharmacology, 5(3), 237-246.