Omega XL, touted as a “natural solution for arthritis and joint pain,” is an anti-inflammatory supplement you may have heard about via infomercials featuring Larry King and others appearing on some religious TV channels. The benefits of Omega XL are said to be derived from an extract of the green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) although the product also contains various fatty acids, including EPA and DHA. The question I get asked most is “Does Omega XL work?” There is research on this product and that will be the foundation of this review. Hopefully by the end of this review you will have a better idea of what Omega XL is―and isn’t― and whether it might be right for you.
How does Omega XL work?
According to the studies I discovered on the product, the active ingredient in Omega XL is said to be a compound dubbed “PCSO-524″ which is an extract of the green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) from New Zealand. This PCSO-524 extract is a composite of many different fatty acids is said to be an inhibitor of pain and inflammation in chemical pathways, specifically LOX (lipoxygenase) and COX (cycloxygenase) pathways.
This is because one of the poly unsaturated fatty acids in PCSO-524 is unique, in that it “looks like” arachadonic acid, which is used in both LOX and COX pathways. The process is complicated but basically, this poly unsaturated fatty acid competes with arachadonic acid for entry into these pathways. As it displaces arachadonic acid for entrance into these pathways, it reduces inflammatory molecules that these pathways can produce. By reducing inflammation, pain might be reduced. The other fatty acids in the green- lipped mussel extract (such as EPA and DHA) likely also participate in reducing inflammation via other cellular pathways as well.
Who distributes Omega XL?
Omega XL is distributed in the US by the company Great HealthWorks. On their website (GreatHealthWorks.com) they list this address for the company 4150 SW 28th Way Hollywood, FL 33312. On Google Street View, this appears to be an industrial park. They list a contact number of 1 -866-449-9679.
According to the Better Business Bureau, Great HealthWorks is a BBB accredited business and has 2 different
- 4150 SW 28th Way Hollywood, FL 33312
- 3026 SW 42nd St. Suite D2 Hollywood, FL 33312
The BBB gives Great HealthWorks a rating of A as of 9/18/13. When I checked, the BBB did list 146 complaints since 2010. All complaints have been resolved according to the BBB. See the BBB file for more information.
It is important to know however, that Omega XL is really owned by a company called Pharmalink International Limited.. In the US, their distributors are:
- Great HealthWorks
The name Lyprinol is important to remember because this is another name for Omega XL. Much of the research you will read below will include the name Lyprinol. Both supplements have the same ingredients. So, as you read the research, just remember that Lyprinol and Omega XL and are basically the same. Both have the PCSO-524 green-lipped mussel extract as their main ingredient.
It also appears to me that Great HealthWorks does not make Omega XL but rather is the US distributor of it. On Lyprinol.com, Great HealthWorks is listed as a distributor of Omega XL.
Omega XL Ingredients
On the product website ―OmegaXL.com ―they say that Omega XL is a “concentrated omega 3 super oil supplement, extracted from the New Zealand green-lipped mussel (Perna Canaliculus).” They also say that this is a “patented” fish oil supplement that contains 30 healthy fatty acids including EPA and DHA. This is the PSCO-524 extract.
After speaking with Great HealthWorks customer service, I was told that Omega XL has these 3 ingredients:
- Green-lipped mussel extract (PSCO-524)
- Olive oil
- Vitamin E
I don’t believe the olive oil or vitamin E play any significant role in Omega XL’s effects. As such they won’t factor into my review.
Also, much of the research summarized below has been sponsored by Pharmalink International Limited, the company that owns Lypriol/Omega XL. While some criticize company sponsored research, as long as the research is well done, I have no problem with this because it means the company cares enough about the product to support research. This is rare and I welcome this.
Omega XL research
The OmegaXL.com website says that the “Patented green lipid extract found in Omega XL has been the subject of 25 years of multiple published clinical studies…” When I called Great HealthWorks about this research, I was told that after I order Omega XL, they would send me a book that contained that information.
I was told that unless I purchased the product, I could not receive the book containing their published research.
No worries though because these studies can be accessed via the National Library of Medicine. For simplicity, I will focus this review on only human studies and put special emphasis on studies that involved pain (such as arthritis pain) or other health issues, as this is what Omega XL is being marketed to help.
Remember, Lyprinol and Omega XL are basically the same thing.
Marine lipid fraction PCSO-524™ (lyprinol(®)/omega XL(®)) of the New Zealand green lipped mussel attenuates hyperpnea-induced bronchoconstriction in asthma. The aim of this study was to determine if Omega XL could reduce deep breathing bronchial spasms in people who had asthma. Since deep breathing usually occurs during exercise, the idea here really was to see if Omega XL would help exercise-induced asthma symptoms.
This study lasted 8 weeks and involved 20 college aged men and women who had mild to moderate asthma symptoms. Students were randomly given either a placebo or 1200 mg of Omega XL (8 capsules) per day. At the end of the study, researchers noted that use of Omega XL was associated with a significant reduction in average asthma symptom scores as well as a significant reduction in the use of bronchodilator medication use. Various other markers of asthma improvement were also noted by these researchers.
Perna canaliculus Lipid Complex PCSO-524™ Demonstrated Pain Relief for Osteoarthritis Patients Benchmarked against Fish Oil, a Randomized Trial, without Placebo Control. This study involved 50 men and women (44 women, 6 men, average age of about 65 years). All people had knee or hip osteoarthritis. For 12 weeks, people were randomly assigned to groups that either received:
- 1200 mg of fish oil per day or
- 1200 mg Lyprinol per day (containing 400 mg of PCSO-524)
People reported how their pain felt during and after the study. Those who received the Omega XL extract (PCSO-524) reported significantly less pain and more mobility than those who received fish oil. No side effects from Omega XL were reported and no change in blood pressure or liver enzymes were reported either.
Study problems: This study had no placebo group. Researchers also did not measure changes in inflammation enzymes (COX or LOX), the inflammation pathways that green-lipped mussel extract is supposed to inhibit.
Marine oil dietary supplementation reduces delayed onset muscle soreness after a 30 km run. This was a study to test if PCSO-542 (which is in Omega XL) could reduce muscle soreness after exercise (delayed onset muscle soreness, also called DOMS). In this study, 32 runners performed a 9-mile run (15 km) on an asphalt course at a speed that corresponded to 70% of their maximum aerobic ability. Various blood measurements were taken to get baseline readings and the runners pain levels, 3 days later were rated. Then, the runners were randomly given either Omega XL or a placebo for 11 weeks.
The amount of Omega XL used in the study was 1200 mg per day (this gave runners 400 mg of the PCSO-524 active ingredient in Omega XL). After 11 weeks, people ran the same 9 mile run again, on the same asphalt course, at the same speed. Blood samples and pain levels 3 days later were recorded for comparison.
After the study, researchers noted that runners who received PCSO-542 has significantly less delayed muscle soreness (DOMS) than those who took the placebo. The researchers noted that the effect was “slight but significant” which, to me means, the effect might not be noticed by most people. Interestingly, Omega XL seemed to reduce muscle soreness more in runners who were less conditioned. People who were more advanced runners, saw less of an effect.
Study problems: This study had some weaknesses. For example, this study was a single-blinded investigation. Basically, this means that the researchers knew who was getting Omega XL and who was getting the placebo. Single blinded studies open the possibility that the researchers might inadvertently/unconsciously influence the outcomes of the study.
Another problem is that delayed muscle soreness usually occurs when people do an exercise/activity that they are not used to doing (like shoveling the first snow of the winter). In this study, the people were all runners, doing an activity that they were all used to doing ―running. This may have resulted in less muscle soreness occurring. Interestingly, there were no significant reductions in creatine kinase levels (CK) an enzyme that increases with muscle soreness and exercise. Theoretically, if Omega XL reduced muscle soreness, it makes sense that it might reduce CK levels. But no significant reduction was seen.
“Treatment of children’s asthma with a lipid extract of the new Zealand green lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) (Lyprinol®)-A double blind, randomized controlled trial in children with moderate to serve chronic obstructive asthma” published in the Internet Journal of Asthma, Allergies and Immunology. If you Google the title, the whole study will appear. In this study ,71 kids with moderate asthma (age 6-13) were followed for 16 weeks. The kids were randomly given either 4 placebos per day or 4 capsules (600 mg) of Lyprinol (Omega XL) per day for the 16 week study (4 months).
There were no differences in the amount of wheezing or breathlessness, chest tightness or lost sleep between those taking Omega XL and placebo. Use of Omega XL did not cause a significant decrease in the use of inhaled steroid medications although researchers said that there was a “trend” of reduced use. While no significant improvement in quality of life scores were noted, there was a difference that was “bordering on significance” toward better improvement in life quality in those taking Omega XL. No significant side effects were reported in this study.
Study Problems. Talk of “trends” and “borderline significance” sound impressive but do not make up for the fact that this study saw no significant effects from Omega XL use after 4 months of use.
Measurement of pain relief resulting from administration of Perna canaliculus lipid complex PCSO-524™ compared with fish oil for treating patients who suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee and/or the hip joints. The link is to the pdf of the study. This study included 50 men and women (over 55 years of age) who had osteoarthritis of the knee and/or hip. Most of the people in the study were women. People were randomly given either 1200 mg of fish oil or 1200 mg of Lyprinol (Omega XL) for 12 weeks.
At the end of the study, researchers reported that people who received Lyprinol showed a “statistically significant reduction in pain, improved levels of mobility and activity” with “no noted effects.” No significant differences were seen in those who received fish oil supplements. People in this study did have access to acetaminophen (basically, Tylenol. It’s called paracetamol in the study). Those taking Lyprinol reported using less acetaminophen than those who received fish oil. This observation has been noted in other Lyprinol-arthritis studies as well.
Study problems: People were able to use pain medications. Theoretically, this may have masked the effects of the supplement.
The effects of Lyprinol(®) on delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle damage in well trained athletes: a double-blind randomised controlled trial. This was an exercise study of Omega XL to see if the supplement could reduce delayed muscle soreness after exercise. In this 2 month investigation, 20 well trained college age males were randomly given 200 mg per day of Lyprinol (Omega XL) or a placebo. The men also engaged in an exercise program designed to make their muscles sore 1-3 days after exercise. Lyprinol was found to be ineffective at decreasing muscle soreness after exercise.
Study problems: Interestingly, researchers in this investigation, tested CRP levels in the subjects. CRP is a marker for cellular inflammation. Since Omega XL is said to be anti-inflammatory, theoretically it should reduce CRP levels. This study did not show that Omega XL reduced CRP levels. It is possible that inflammation is reduced in ways not related to CRP levels. This is one of the few studies I could locate that measured CRP levels.
Systematic review of a marine nutriceutical supplement in clinical trials for arthritis: the effectiveness of the New Zealand green-lipped mussel Perna canaliculus. This is a review study of research conducted on Perna canaliculus. The authors conclude that the evidence (at the time this review was published) was “little consistent and compelling evidence” however it appears that this study looked at freeze-dried green-lipped mussel powder supplements. This appears to be different than the oil extract, which is what Omega XL is. The review mentions other similar products such as “Seatone.” I’m not sure if this review is relevant to the discussion of Omega XL/Lyprinol.
|Treatment of knee osteoarthritis with Lyprinol®, lipid extract of the green-lipped mussel – A double-blind placebo-controlled study. In this study, 80 people (67 completed the study) with knee osteoarthritis were either given Lyprinol (Omega XL) or a placebo for 6 months. People who received Lyprinol showed no significant difference in pain perception than those who received a placebo (Although those who received Lyprinol were said to have better results with pain, the effect was not deemed significant). No side effects were reported in this study.|
Study Problems: This study does not tell how much Lyprinol people used. Another problem is that researchers also report that “improvement in almost all of the arthritis assessment parameters was observed in both groups of patients studied.” In other words, even those who took a placebo, showed improvements. Also, people in this study were allowed to use acetaminophen for pain (called paracetamol in the study). This could have masked the effects of the supplement. This study lasted 6 months.
For a more in-depth review of problems with Omega XL research, see this critical review of Omega XL research, published in 2011.
Efficacy and tolerability of a combination of Lyprinol and high concentrations of EPA and DHA in inflammatory rheumatoid disorders. In this study, 50 people with rheumatoid arthritis were given a combination of Lyprinol and fish oil supplements for 12 weeks. Researchers reported that 62% of the people were able to reduce their arthritis medications by the end of the study.
Study problems: This study had no placebo group, so we don’t know if it was the combination that caused the benefits or only fish oil ―or only Lyprinol. This study also used a product called Sanhelios mussel-Lyprinol which has 35 mg of the green-lipped mussel extract as well as 458 mg of fish oil per capsule. I think this is different than Omega XL which, I believe, has 50 mg of the green-lipped mussel extract per capsule.
Clinical efficacy and safety of Lyprinol, a patented extract from New Zealand green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) in patients with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee: A multi-centre two-month clinical trial. This study involved 60 people with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee (54 people completed the study). People received 4 capsules (600 mg) of Lyprinol per day for 8 weeks. By the end of the 8 week study, researchers report that 80% of people said they experienced significant pain relief and improved joint function. No side effects were reported.
Study problems: This study does not appear to have a placebo group.
Treatment of asthma with lipid extract of New Zealand green-lipped mussel: a randomized clinical trial. In this study 46 people with mild asthma were studies for 8 weeks. People were randomly given either a placebo or Lyprinol (Omega XL) twice a day. Those who received the Lyprinol reported less wheezing, less exhaled hydrogen peroxide (a marker for airway inflammation and free radical stress) and an increase in peak expiratory flow, compared to those who received a placebo. Lyprinol did not seem to reduce how much people woke up during the night with asthma symptoms. The people in this study had mild asthma. How Lyprinol might help people with severe asthma is not known. No significant side effects were reported.
The effect of a lipid extract of the New Zealand green-lipped mussle on three cases of arthritis. This study is a case report on the effects of Omega XL (Lyprinol) on 3 people who had rheumatoid arthritis. I am unable to locate the results of these case studies.
Anti-inflammatory effects of a stabilized lipid extract of Perna canaliculus (Lyprinol®). The link goes to a pdf of the study. This is a review article that covers several other investigations that have noted positive results with Lyprinol.
The treatment of arthritis with a lipid extract of Perna canaliculus: a randomized trial. This study lasted 3 months and compared how either freeze dried green-lipid mussel powder (1150mg/day) or just the green-lipid extract of the green lipped mussel (210 mg/day) affected 30 people who had arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis). The freeze dried powder was from a company called Biomex Australia and the green-lipid preparation was Lyprinol.
Both forms were deemed effective at decreasing pain, swelling and stiffness in people who had both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers noted that 70% of those with osteoarthritis benefited from the treatments and 76% of those with rheumatoid arthritis also benefited.
Study problems: While the results of this study are impressive, neither product improved hand grip strength. One would think that if arthritis pain was less, then people might be able to grasp things tighter (due to less pain being felt in the hands). But this did not happen. Another problem was that there was no placebo group in this study.
Perna canaliculus in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. I can’t find the results of this investigation.
Perna canaliculus in the treatment of arthritis. In this study 66 people were followed for 3 months. People with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis were given either a placebo or 1050 mg of a green-lipped mussel extract, called Biolane, a product by the New Zealand company, Vitaco. As is reported by the Perma Healthcare supplement website, researchers noted that “76% of the rheumatoid and 45% of the osteoarthritis group reported improvement in the form of reduced pain/ stiffness. The researchers also noted that 40% of all participants of the study did not notice any benefits.
Study problems: This study did not use Omega XL/Lyprinol. While the researchers state that
a large percentage of people with osteo and rheumatoid arthritis showed improvements, the researchers did not say these results were “significant.” Also, grip strength did not improve. I’d think that if arthritis improvements were seen, then grip strength might also improve due to less arthritis pain. I believe this may be the very first study performed on green-lipped mussel extract. It does add to the body of evidence for green- lipped mussel though.
Summary of arthritis research
Here is a quick review of the human Omega XL arthritis research to date. To be fair, I will say “it works” or “it does not work” based only on research that found statistically significant results.
2013 study: it works (12 week study. 1200 mg/day used)
2011 study: it works (12 week study. 1200 mg/day used)
2004 study: it does not work (6 month study. Unknown amount used)
2004 study: it works (12 week study. 4 capsules per day)
2003 study: it works (8 week study. 600 mg / day used)
1998 study: it works (3 month study. 1150 freeze dried and 210 mg mussel extract/day)
1980 Study: it does not work (3 month study. 1050 mg/day study did not use Omega XL)
Several of the Omega XL arthritis studies had problems with how they were conducted. See the summaries of those studies above, for more information.
Summary of asthma research
Here is a quick review of the human Omega XL asthma research to date. As above, I will classify whether “it works” or “it does not work” based only on research that noted statistically significant results.
2013 study: it works (8 week study. 1200 mg/day used)
2012 study: it does not work (4 month study 600 mg used)
2002 study: it works (8 week study. 300 mg/day)
Based on the asthma research above, I’m not sure if Omega XL helps asthma or not. From the 3 studies performed it looks like Omega XL works at 300 mg a day and 1200 mg per day but not at 600 mg per day? That makes no sense to me.
Omega XL and heart disease
When I watched the Larry King Omega XL infomercial, Larry King asked Dr. Sharon McQuillan, who also appeared on the infomercial this question:
”How can omega XL reduce the risk of heart attacks?” She responds :
“30 years of studies have shown the benefits of omega 3s.” She goes on to say that ” I recommend Omega XL to all my patients to help protect their hearts, preserve their heart and vascular health.”
But, as far as I can tell, Lyprinol/Omega XL ―itself ―has never been tested in a published peer-reviewed studies to see if it improves heart disease or reduces the risk. It’s quite possible it does help ―since it contains omega 3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA ―but until somebody tests the product, I don’t feel anybody can say it helps heart disease. Just because Omega XL has EPA and DHA does not mean it will work the same way as eating fish appears to.
Later in the infomercial, Dr. McQuillan says Omega XL is “the most potent anti-inflammatory that exists.” But, as far as I can tell, there are no studies comparing omega XL to other natural anti-inflammatory supplements. Also, if Omega XL is so potent, why did people in several of the studies still need to take acetaminophen?
Does Omega XL help back pain?
I’m not aware of any Omega XL back pain studies.
Does Omega XL help IBS?
Since Omega XL appears to exert some anti-inflammatory benefits, some may wonder if it may help irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In IBS, there is no inflammation so, Omega XL might not help this condition. In addition, there appear to be no studies on Omega XL and IBS either.
On the other hand, inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD) is a different condition which does have accompanying inflammation. That said, I was unable to find any published peer-reviewed evidence that Omega XL helps humans with IBD symptoms. The evidence I did see involved lab mice such as this 2005 study. Here is the Center for Disease Control page on inflammatory bowel disease for more information on this disorder.
Omega XL and cancer?
I wanted to mention this because in the past there was Internet chatter about Lyprinol helping cancer. This hype appears to be traced to a 2005 rat study. I am not aware of any published peer reviewed proof in humans showing that Omega XL/Lyprinol helps any type of cancer.
See the side effects section for more information if you have cancer.
Omega XL and muscle soreness?
From the two exercise studies summarized above, I believe more research is needed to determine if Omega XL helps muscle soreness following exercise (DOMS). So far, one study shows that Omega XL does not work and other study shows that it does help― a little bit― in only less advanced runners.
How much PCSO-524 is in Omega XL?
Most studies on the effects of perna canaliculus use a patented product called Lyprinol. Studies note that 150 mg of this product contains 50 mg of the PCSO-524 extract that is said to be at the heart of Lyprinol’s effects. Since Lyprinol and Omega XL are the same product, under different names, I believe Omega XL also has 50 mg of the active ingredient (PCSO-542) per 150 mg capsule.
How long does it take to work?
The severity and the type of arthritis would likely play a role in how long before effects were noticed. If it’s going to work, studies of arthritis, generally note 4-8 weeks is typical. As for other how long it might take to help other health issues, I don’t know.
Omega XL and dogs?
There is some research noting that Omega XL may help dogs with arthritis. The product being sold is called Mussel Dog. Again, the research looked at Lyprinol and dogs but since this is the same thing as Omega XL, I think both products would act similarly. According to the research so far, it may take 6 weeks until effects are noticed.
Omega XL side effects
None of the human studies I’ve seen have reported any significant side effects with Lyprinol/Omega XL. As such, in healthy people I think Omega XL is safe. Some studies have even noted no interaction with blood thinner medications, which is interesting since Omega XL contains EPA and DHA, which can interact with blood thinners. Regardless of findings I still feel it’s smart to talk to a doctor first if you take blood thinner drugs.
There is a case report of a 76 year old woman who developed liver problems shortly after she started taking Lyprinol for her widespread arthritis. After she stopped taking Lyprinol, her condition improved.
In 2009, a study was published on how well people with breast cancer and prostate cancer tolerated green lipped mussel lipid extract. In this preliminary investigation , 17 people received 260 mg of the green lipped mussel extract 2 times per day (510 mg total). While the extract was well tolerated in most people, two of the people in this trial developed liver problems. As such, I feel it’s wise for people with cancer to speak to their oncologist first about not only this―but any supplement they take.
How much does Omega XL cost?
On the OmegaXL.com website, one bottle was selling for $58.90. When I looked at the product website I saw a “buy one get one free” offer for $49.95 (plus shipping and handling) whereby people who used this option would automatically be shipped a new month’s supply of Omega XL each month for $58.90 (plus shipping and handling).
To get the buy one get one free offer, people must enroll in the auto ship program.
Omega XL comes with a 90 day money back guarantee. Returns after 90 days will not be eligible for refunds. For more information about this people should call customer service at 1-800-609-4818.
What about similar products?
Even though Omega XL gets a lot of attention, there are other green-lipped mussel supplements being sold. Some of these are less expensive than Omega XL. A few that I found on Amazon include:
I’ve even noticed that Lyprinol is being added to one of the products sold by Plexus Slim, a weight loss and blood sugar supplement. See my Plexus Slim review more info.
Would these other supplements offer the same benefits as Omega XL? As far as I can tell, only Lyprinol/Omega XL appears to have been studied clinically, and so, that is an advantage this product has over others.
That said, if these other products contain the same active ingredients (in the same amounts) as Omega XL, then it’s possible they might work similarly. The key here is “if” they have the same stuff. Pharmalink International claims that they own the patent on how to extract the PCSO-524 extract that’s said to be the active ingredient in Omega XL.
It’s possible that other formulations of green-lipped mussel extract might work similarly and it’s also possible that Pharmalink allows Lyprinol to be used in other products. The only way to know what’s in these other products is to call their respective companies and ask them.
Does Omega XL work?
There is no doubt that Lyprinol (Omega XL) has racked up a lot of research over the last several years. Most of the human research is on the effects of arthritis pain and to a lesser extent, asthma. The majority of these studies appear to show that the active ingredient (PCSO-524) in Omega XL may have some benefits although, because some of the studies have issues with the way they were conducted, I feel better studies should be done. That said, while I can’t say with certainly that it would work for everybody, it’s possible that some pain some relief from arthritis may be noticed from this product.
How much pain relief I can’t say and this effect would likely be dependent on the nature and severity of the pain. I think 4-8 weeks might be needed to know for sure if it’s working or not. Currently most of the Lyprinol/Omega XL research has looked at arthritis. How Omega XL might help other conditions (back pain, heart disease etc.) is open to speculation until more research is done. Here is Omega XL on Amazon and here is Lyprinol on Amazon for those who are interested.
What do you think?