Considering their relatively low cost and ease of use, nutritional supplements have become popular products in the equine industry, particularly those for joint health. However with many nutritional supplements, there is a limited amount of science proving their efficacy in horses, a concern that makes some veterinarians and owners skeptical of these products' efficacy. A group of New Zealand-based researchers have recently conducted the first clinical trial examining the use of a freeze-dried green-lipped mussel product (Biolane LPPC) in horses with osteoarthritis (OA), with promising results.
"Studies in humans and dogs support the use of this particular green-lipped mussel product, and laboratory studies have demonstrated that this supplement has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties," explained lead researcher Juliet Cayzer, BVSc, DVCS, from Estendart Ltd., at Massey University in New Zealand.
To determine if the LPPC was also effective in horses with osteoarthritis in the fetlock joint, Cayzer and colleagues orally supplemented 19 horses with the unique commercial dried product made from New Zealand green-lipped mussels (25 mg/kg) and 20 horses with a placebo for 56 days.
"In this inaugural randomized controlled double-blind multicenter study, daily supplementation with this commercially available green-lipped mussel product significantly improved lameness and flexion while (appearing to) decrease joint pain compared to the control group," Cayzer noted.
The researchers did caution readers and consumers that not all green-lipped mussel products will perform as well as the specific commercial product used in this study.
"Regardless if the green-lipped mussel is extracted, heat-treated, cooked, chemically stabilized, or lyophilized, all green-lipped mussel products are grouped together ... but they are not necessarily equally bioavailable or effective," added Cayzer. "Considering that other studies of green-lipped mussel products in other species have had variable and conflicting results, further work needs to be performed."
The study, "A randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study on the efficacy of a unique extract of green-lipped mussel (perna canaliculus) in horses with chronic fetlock lameness attributed to osteoarthritis," will be published in an upcoming edition of the Equine Veterinary Journal. The abstract is available online.
Disclaimer: Seek the advice of a qualified veterinarian before proceeding with any diagnosis, treatment, or therapy.