What You Should Know About the Health Benefits of Green-Lipped Mussels
They’re called one of the world’s superfoods, but what kind of health benefits do green-lipped mussels offer as a dietary supplement? At a restaurant or seafood store, you might hear them called New Zealand Greenshell mussels, but when freeze-dried and ground to a powder, they’re more commonly listed as green-lipped mussels. The name comes from the mussel shells’ green edges. The shellfish is an export product from New Zealand and one that is critical to the country’s economy.
Studies have shown that ingesting the meat of this distinctive species may inhibit the 5-lipoxygenases pathway to control the production of inflammatory mediators called leukotrienes and reduce the inflammation that causes maladies such as arthritis or asthma.
A Little About Inflammation and Disease
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to just about everything. It’s a complex process triggered by what the immune system perceives as harmful stimuli. When you get an infection, your body recognizes the invasion of foreign material, in this case bacteria, and the result is an inflammatory response or swelling.
The problem is, not everything the body sees as unsafe is troublesome. Sometimes the immune system targets something that isn’t dangerous and responds with harmful inflammation. A good example of this problem is the basic allergy. The immune system decides that something innocuous like pet dander is an immediate threat, so your eyes get puffy, your nose gets stuffy, and you become congested. This is all due to inflammation.
Recent studies have shown that inflammation may be the root of many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
What Are Leukotrienes?
Leukotrienes are chemicals that the body releases after you come into contact with a trigger, such as pollen or dust mites, that causes inflammation. Leukotriene modifiers, or antagonists, work to manage that inflammation, especially in illnesses such as arthritis and asthma. By blocking the action of the leukotrienes, they prevent swelling of joints or airways.
Although more conclusive studies are needed, data has suggested that taking a supplement that contains green-lipped mussels is much like taking a leukotriene modifier. The chemicals in the shellfish might be useful to control leukotrienes formation, reducing inflammation naturally.
Benefits of Taking Green-Lipped Mussel Supplements for Arthritis
Green-lipped mussels have been shown to help arthritis sufferers. For example, osteoarthritis occurs due to damaged cartilage in the joints. A 2002 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that older dogs suffering from osteoarthritis responded well to freeze-dried green-lipped mussel powder. The study authors stated that the nutrient present in the supplement, specifically the leukotriene inhibitors in the mussels, may reduce inflammation and pain while limiting further damage to the joint cartilage.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder that attacks the joints, creating inflammation. One study found that taking green-lipped mussel improved RA pain and inflammation by 68 percent.
Benefits of Taking Green-Lipped Mussel Supplements for Asthma
The University of Michigan Health System reported that in a double-blind study, asthmatics benefited from using this supplement. The study gave people suffering from chronic asthma a proprietary extract of New Zealand green-lipped mussels twice a day for eight weeks. They showed a marked decreased in daytime wheezing caused by inflammation.
How to Take Green-Lipped Mussel Supplements
As with any supplement, you should follow the directions on the product for the proper dosage, but the exact dose will depend on your age and health. The limited data available from clinical trials suggests the common dosage is around 900 to 1,380 mg/day taken in multiple doses. If you take prescription medication of any kind, consult your physician before taking a dietary supplement.
You should not take this supplement if you're allergic or hypersensitive to shellfish of any kind or if you've been diagnosed with liver disease. It's unclear whether green-lipped mussel supplements are safe for women who are pregnant or nursing. Animal studies suggest that ingestion of it may be harmful to an unborn child.
Side effects from taking green-lipped mussel supplements may include diarrhea, nausea and gas.
If you have arthritis or asthma, you may find that starting a regimen of green-lipped mussel supplements can reduce inflammation, improve your joint mobility and help you breathe easier. Ask your doctor if these supplements are right for you.
WebMD, Leukotriene Modifiers and Allergies
Leukotrienes and Inflammation, William W. Busse, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol. 157, No. 6, 1998
Improvement of Arthritic Signs in Dogs Fed Green-Lipped Mussel (Perna canaliculus), Tiffany Linn Bierer and Linh M. Bui, The Journal of Nutrition, 2002
University of Michigan Health System, Green-Lipped Mussel, 2015Author Bio: Darla Ferrara is a full-time freelance writer, artist and award-winning author. With an academic and vocational background in healthcare, Darla creates informative and engaging content for readers about current health trends.
- Darla Ferrara