News& Inspiration

Green-lipped Mussel and Chondroitin

In the body, cartilage is an essential structural component of the joints. Unfortunately it can be become damaged and, as it doesn’t actually have a blood supply, it can take some time to heal. This process could well lead to Osteoarthritis. In this article we look at how Chondroitin and Green-lipped Mussel can combine to aid the treatment of Osteoarthritis.

So what actually is Cartilage?

Cartilage covers and protects both of the bony ends of the joint and is much softer and more flexible than bone but firmer and less elastic than muscle. A healthy cartilage allows the joints to glide together by creating a smooth surface and reducing any friction. Chrondoitin is contained in ‘chondroitin sulphate’ which makes up the principal cell type in cartliage – chondrocytes. Cartiliage is also made of a outer sheath, the ‘perichondrium’.

Cartilage acts as a shock absorber in the body, enabling your joints to be able to withstand huge forces, as often your entire body weight is put through one single joint (hopping/ standing on one leg). By looking after the cartilage and our joints, we are able to keep moving freely.

drawing of knee joint with red area for knee pain

Sadly, with age, the quality of our cartilage decreases. The content of collagen fibres in the cartilage increases relatively and the water content decreases. This makes the cartilage become less flexible and it can start to wear away, leading to the onset Osteoarthritis. Sometimes injury can cause the cartilage to become damaged and this can lead to osteoarthritis in people of any age. Once the cartilage has become damaged and is no longer acting as the smooth, protective layer in the joint, patients will start to feel pain, inflammation and will often experience loss of mobility.

Where does Chondroitin come in?

Cartilage is composed of a number of specialized cells called ‘chondrocytes’. Chondroitin is one of the primary components of cartilage. The chondroitin element enables the cartilage to hang on to water, which is very important as this is what keeps your cartilage flexible. Chondroitin is also found in bone, skin, tendons and ligaments of both humans and animals.

The chondrocytes in cartilage produce vast amounts of an extracellular matrix which is made up of collagen fibres, proteoglycan and elastin fibres. Surprisingly, cartilage doesn’t actually have a blood supply to provide the chondrocytes with all the necessary nutrients.

Instead of having blood vessels to supply the cartilage with essential nutrients, the nutrients are able to diffuse through the ‘perichondrium’ (a thick connective tissue which surrounds the cartilage) and pass deep into the centre of the cartilage. Due to the lack of blood vessels, cartilage growth and repair is a lot slower than in other tissues.

Chondroitin and Green-lipped mussel

Chondroitin supplements are available on the market in the form of Chondroitin Sulphate. However, there is no clear medical evidence that taking chondroitin sulphate in isolation, is actually effective in the treatment of osteoarthritis. However, there does seem to be a huge benefit to some Osteoarthritis sufferers in taking chondroitin in combination with other anti-inflammatory substances and this is where the green-lipped mussel comes in.

Green-lipped mussels are a very special mollusc that naturally contain many anti-inflammatory substances. These include the glycosaminoglycans ‘chondroitin sulphate’ and ‘glucosamine’, Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin C and E. All of which, in combination, may be beneficial in maintaining healthy cartilage and joints.

If you are looking at investing in a green-lipped mussel product, it is so important that you understand what you are buying. The green-lipped mussel in made up of over 50% proteins. Some of the extraction processes used, can cause a lot of these proteins to be filtered out. Indeed, when making a green-lipped mussel powder, the heating process can cause the proteins to denature and they are then lost because they can’t withstand the heat. This means that some of the extraction processes can actually turn the green-lipped mussel from hero to zero, by eliminating many of the anti-inflammatory properties!

To get maximum health benefits from a green-lipped mussel product, it is essential that you find a green-lipped mussel product that uses 100% pure liquid, green-lipped mussel, in its natural form.

So, when looking at Chondroitin compared to green-lipped mussel for the treatment of osteoarthritis, it may be more beneficial to opt for a quality 100% pure, green-lipped mussel product. This is because it has chondroitin present but in combination with other anti-inflammatory substances, which is more likely to be more effective than taking a chondroitin supplement in isolation.