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Joint Health: Are New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels the Answer?

Close-up of green-lipped mussels isolate on white background

The use of New Zealand green lipped mussel powder for the treatment and prevention of arthritis has become very popular in recent years but does it work? A clinical trial conducted by Massey University in New Zealand came up with the strongest evidence yet that this mollusc from the oceans around New Zealand has something really special. The clinical trial was a double-blind placebo-controlled trial, which is the best design for any trial and considered the gold standard in clinical tests.

The trial was conducted on 20 placebo and 19 treatment horses; all horses had some degree of lameness in the fetlock joint.

The placebo horse results
– Three improved, 11 were unchanged, and six got worse.

The treatment group results
– 12 improved, seven were unchanged, and none got worse.

Researchers found this result significant proof that New Zealand Green Lipped mussel powder helps improve lameness.

Australian international dressage rider Heath Ryan uses New Zealand green lipped mussel powder on his champion dressage stallion Regardez Moi. “Regardez Moi is now 18 years old.  “We know he won’t go forever but he is going well now, he’s still beating these flash imported horses”. We give him Canterflex and he is going great. I even take it myself and it definitely helps!” Heath explains.

Copabella Visage is another champion in his own right, a star on the show jumping stage he was injured while jumping in Europe. He was off for two years due to the injury but is now back jumping World Cups. Rider Brooke Campbell says “Visage improved almost immediately we started him on green lipped mussel powder. We are really happy with his progress, so much so that we are now sponsored by Canterflex.”

Then if it works when do I start my horse on it? Veterinarian; Dr Darren Gibbins sheds some light on that question. “We believe that the Omega 3 and six fatty acids in New Zealand green lipped mussels are what give it anti-inflammatory properties. The unique phospholipids have significant anti-inflammatory activity. Green lipped mussels also contain chondroitin that is a building block of cartilage. Arthritis that is the cause of most joint pain and lameness as horse’s age is caused by micro-fractures in cartilage over the years. These become inflamed and repair imperfectly with bone; this bone slowly grows into the joint and causing arthritis and pain. By reducing inflammation around these micro-fractures and providing the chondroitin for the cartilage to repair better, the micro-fracture should heal better and in theory cause less arthritis as years go by. There is also evidence to suggest that New Zealand green lipped mussel powder can help reduce the formation of OCD lesions in yearlings. So, some horses should start green lipped mussel powder at weaning. I believe that if an adult horse is in work, it will most likely have a longer competition career if it is given green lipped mussel powder from an early age.