Green Lipped Mussel & Safety Of Use

The origin of Green lipped mussels

Green lipped mussels grow naturally in the immediate coastlines of New Zealand and have been farmed under the auspices of the New Zealand Ministry of Agriculture (NZMAF) for over thirty years. The interest in GLM arose when a an observation reported that the incidence of arthritic and rheumatic disorders was extremely low amongst the coastal-dwelling Maoris of New Zealand who relied upon Green Lipped Mussels as part of their daily diet.

The New Zealand Fishing Industry Board provided New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel for inclusion in a series of tests and trials being carried out in the USA searching for new anti-cancer agents. The trials did not show any anti-cancer properties, but patients reported a soothing of joint conditions. Further studies confirmed the soothing effect upon joints.

However, problems were associated with variability of activity and other reports demonstrated little or no soothing activity. This variability was associated with manufacturing/processing methods and subsequently great efforts have been made to refine modern techniques to produce consistent and reproducible products.


Green lipped mussel preparations have not been reported to produce NSAID-like activity. NSAIDs are known to cause gastric irritation, ulceration and bleeding. In the UK, some 2,000 people per year die from gastric bleeding associated with NSAID usage. Green Lipped Mussel preparations have been studied comprehensively in pigs and rats to confirm the lack of Gastro-toxicity. Rats and pigs were given large dosages of GLM, Aspirin or Indomethacin or GLM and Aspirin/Indomethacin combinations.

Histological examination of the gastric mucosa confirmed that there were no erosions from the use of GLM powder or lipid extracts. Aspirin and indomethacin produced major mucosal harm and erosions. The combination of NSAID and GLM showed indications of a protective effect of the GLM powder against damage caused by the NSAIDs.

Liver, Kidney and Cardiovascular

GLM powder has not been reported to interact with either of these body organ systems. Most of the studies in animals and humans have, by nature of the joint conditions involved, taken place in the older population typically with an average age of early 60’s. Neither the Gibson studies (1980 and 1998) nor the Kendall (2000) paper report any adverse reaction with the use of GLM products in a total of 180 patients studied for 6 and 12 months respectively. In particular in the Kendall study, 120 patients completed a 12 month study representing 1,440 patient months of continuous treatment. Indeed Kendall documents a case with sufficiently poor cardiac status that surgery was considered to dangerous for the patient and GLM was preferentially used.


There have been no formal studies of the use of GLM in pregnant women. As a food freely available in supermarkets world-wide, the risk of problems are unlikely as no reports have been published as far as we are aware at this time. A search of the US FDA has revealed no references to adverse effects of Green Lipped Mussel.

In Combination with NSAIDS

A number of studies have documented the use of NSAIDs concomitantly with GLM in arthritic patients. In these cases patients were taking existing medication and either no adverse reactions were noted or a reduction in dosage of approximately 50% was determined at the end of the study. In veterinary studies, GLM has been used in conjunction with NSAIDs without adverse reports. In canine and equine reports the use of drugs has been reduced with the concomitant feeding of GLM. In horses the major concern is palatability and feeding due to the sensitive smell and taste response senses. This can be overcome with flavouring and feeding with favourite foods such as carrots, apples or rations etc.


To date, GLM materials have been used in 1,000’s of people and animals. Whilst much information is anecdotal, the evidence from human and veterinary papers indicates that it is well tolerated. Two thousand dogs per month take the product without adverse reactions being reported to date. Hundreds of horses in the UK alone use to product regularly on a monthly or 40 day cycle. The only side effect reported is the occasional comment that the product may cause signs of nausea. Reducing the dosage tends to overcome this effect. Sometimes in humans symptoms seem to worsen for a few days before improving although this has not been reported in the veterinary studies to date.