The name green lipped mussel conjures up all kinds of images when you are first introduced to the term. Most people are like: “Green WHAT mussel? Mussels have lips?” But this little guy is actually one of the largest in the mussel family and can only be found in the waters surrounding New Zealand. It’s noticeable green hue along the edge of their shell can be attributed to the name “green lipped” mussel. The native people of New Zealand, Maoris, have known the health benefits of the mussels since the 1970s, but they have only been introduced to the western world in recent years.
The Benefits of Green Lipped Mussel
So how does our new friend green lipped mussel (GLM) actually help us and our pets? Well, let’s talk joint pain for a moment. If you suffer from joint pain you are not alone. Millions of people around the world experience the aches associated with an inflammatory condition that can manifest itself as arthritis, osteoarthritis, rheumatism or gout. And we aren’t alone. As our canine and feline friends age, they too can experience the same discomforts. Unfortunately there isn’t a cure; however, there has been effectiveness shown for treating joint problems and arthritis through a variety of methods. Most often our pets (like us) are prescribed life-long medication to reduce the inflammation and lessen the discomfort.
There are several kinds of anti-inflammatory medications that treat this ailment. However, as with most forms of medication, some of these anti-inflammatories can have serious side effects. Dr. Karyl Hurley, a veterinarian at Waltham’s research center in England, presented her research to a British science conference and explained: “We know that over 50% of dogs over the age of eight start to develop arthritis in various joints. It is usually their hips, knees and elbows” and the usual route that is taken to help alleviate symptoms are daily anti-inflammatory drugs. “However,” she continues, “there is evidence to suggest that the use of these drugs may have adverse and distressing side effects including irritation, anorexia, vomiting and ulcers.” Who wants to rid their poor pet of joint pain only to create problems elsewhere in the body?
Well, this miracle from the sea is welcomed with open arms by pet owners who are constantly on the hunt for natural supplements for their pets. GLM is a natural food source and, unless you are allergic to shellfish, there are no negative side effects.
You and your four-legged friends can benefit from the mussels because, when harvested in peak condition, they are a rich source of omega fatty acids and minerals. Powdered extract of GLM contains very high concentration of omega-3s and a unique combination of fatty acids that is not found in any other marine or plant life. Studies have also shown that they are used in order to reduce pain, and they can act as a feeding stimulant. However, their greatest healing properties correspond to the fact that they are a natural anti-inflammatory due to them being an excellent source of glucosamine and chondroitin.
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Just in case you are unfamiliar with these two healing agents, they are a pair of important critical building blocks for bones and cartilage. They are key in reducing and inhibiting inflammation, and relieving pain associated with joint problems.
A Virtual Superfood!
In addition to their inflammatory healing properties, these mussels are considered a superfood because they contain a huge variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, Omega-3 fats, antioxidants, enzymes, and many more nutrients. You’ve got to love green lipped mussel, even if it does smell a little… well, smelly. This brownish-green powder does smell exactly how you would expect dried mussel to smell. However, believe us when we say that we’ve seen our own dogs reap the many benefits of this stinky guy, and it’s worth it.
GLM isn’t only useful for pets that are already suffering from arthritis. Many pet owners use this supplement as a preventative in order to save their pets some pain and stiffness down the line.
“If I start giving GLM, do I still need to give glucosamine, chondroitin and omega 3’s?”
GLM is especially effective when taken in conjunction with glucosamine, chondroitin and fish oil, forming a quadfecta of awesomeness (OK, maybe we got a little too excited there).
Think of the glucosamine and the fish oil as a rocket; GLM would be rocket fuel that pushes the rocket to attain magnificent heights. The rocket’s purpose? To fight inflammation.
Need more evidence?
Let us draw your attention to one of the many studies done in order to evaluate the efficacy of the GLM when added to a pet’s diet. The study used 31 mixed-breed dogs displaying varying degrees of arthritis. Each dog was evaluated and scored by veterinarians on a variety of factors. The dogs were randomly selected and placed into two groups. Both groups were fed the same diet, to which 0.3% green-lipped mussel powder was added for one of the groups. The change in the total arthritis score at the end of 6 weeks showed significant improvement in the test group versus the control group, especially in the joint pain and swelling categories. This study provides strong evidence that when GLM is incorporated into a diet, it can help alleviate arthritis symptoms in dogs.
How Much Does Your Dog Need?
Convinced? Good! The best way to supplement GLM into your pet’s diet is to sprinkle the extract over their food. The effectiveness of the extract depends on the quality of the product. The key to choosing the right brand is the manufacturing process. If the mussels are steamed open in order to get the flesh out, the heat destroys the nutrients in the mussels. Knowing your manufacturer and, therefore, knowing how your product is created, is important when choosing a brand.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition in 2002 says that the size of your pet is a key factor that must be taken into consideration when determining the right dosage of GLM. The simplest way to do the math is to follow this general rule: 15mg of powdered extract per 1 pound of pet’s body weight.
But size isn’t the only important thing to keep in mind when measuring dosages. The severity of your pet’s condition is probably the most important factor. If your pet is suffering from arthritis and you do not see any improvement in the first 2-4 weeks of giving the supplement, you can increase the dosage slightly. After a month or so, once your pet’s health condition improves, you can decrease the dosage to the previous dosages mentioned.
It is always very important to consult with your vet before adding any supplement to your pet’s diet. Although no negative reactions have been reported in correlation with the use of the extract, it’s important to always keep a close eye on your pets when introducing them to new foods and supplements.
Take the plunge and put a little “mussel” to your pet’s diet.
Written by: Lise Blinn
Sourcing & Editing: Pet Nutrition Blogger, Rodney Habib