Omega XL, touted on TV as a “natural solution for arthritis and joint pain,” is an omega 3 supplement you may have in TV commercials featuring Larry King. 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? and “Is it just a fish oil supplement?” There is research on this supplement and that's what you will learn about of this review. Hopefully by the end of this review you will have a better idea of what Omega XL is and whether it's right for you.
How Does Omega XL Work?
This section will get a little complicated so if your eyes glaze over, I will understand. I'll make this as painless as possible.
According to the studies I discovered, the active ingredient in Omega XL is said to be a compound dubbed “PCSO-524.” This name refers to fatty acid extracts of the green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) from New Zealand.
This is because one of the poly unsaturated fatty acids in PCSO-524 “looks like” arachadonic acid, which ramps up inflammation in both the 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 PCSO-524 displaces arachadonic acid for entrance into these chemical pathways, it reduces the inflammation 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.
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. By this, they are likely referring specifically to 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
Also, much of the research summarized below has been sponsored by Pharmalink International Limited, the company that owns 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.
What Is Lyprinol?
Lyprinol is the same thing as Omega XL. Lyprinol is the name of the product sold by Pharmalink International. This name is not mentioned during Omega XL ads but its the same thing. It's important to remember this because much of the research you see below will be on Lyprinol.
Since they are the same thing, Lyprinol research = Omega XL research.
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.
What's up with that?
No worries though because these studies can be accessed via the National Library of Medicine (Pubmed.gov). 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.
The effects PCSO-524®, a patented marine oil lipid and omega-3 PUFA blend derived from the New Zealand green lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus), on indirect markers of muscle damage and inflammation after muscle damaging exercise in untrained men: a randomized, placebo controlled trial.
This study involved 32 untrained men (the average age was 22) who were subjected to exercise (downhill running) that caused delayed muscle soreness (DOMS). The men were randomly given either a placebo or 1200 mg of PCSO-524 (omega XL) for 26 days before they exercised and for 96 hours after they exercised.
The researchers noted that Omega XL significantly reduced various blood-based measurements of muscle damage compared to the placebo. Those taking omega XL also showed significantly less muscle strength loss after exercise as well. While study was funded by Pharmalink International, the makers of Omega XL/Lyprinol, the researchers report no conflicts of interest and that the company played no role in the study.
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. Those taking Omega XL saw 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.
This study had no placebo group. Researchers also did not measure changes in inflammation enzymes, the stuff 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 (referred to as 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.
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.
Talk of “trends” and “borderline significance” sound impressive but this is sciency talk that says no significant effects from Omega XL use were seen 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.
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.
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, it makes sense it should reduce CRP levels. But, according to this study, it didn't. It is possible that inflammation is reduced in ways not related to CRP reduction. 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. |
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.
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.
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.
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 supplement, 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.
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)
Of the 8 studies I could locate, 5 noted it worked. That said, several of the Omega XL arthritis studies had problems with how they were conducted. See the summaries of those studies above, for more information.
Omega XL Asthma Research Summary
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.
Also, notice that this claim is about omega 3 fats (EPA and DHA) and NOT the green lipped mussel.
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?
Read How Not To Die to learn how to REVERSE heart disease.
Omega XL And Back Pain?
I'm not aware of any Omega XL back pain studies.
Does Omega XL Help IBS?
Can Omega XL 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?
There is 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?
There are three studies so far of Omega XL and DOMS. So far, one study shows that Omega XL does not work and two studies shows that it does help. From the studies showing it reduces muscle soreness, its effects seem to be best in those who are beginners.
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 Much EPA & DHA is in Omega XL?
Consumerlab.com, a website that tests supplements, noted that each soft-gel of Omega XL contained only 6.3 mg of EPA and 4.9 mg of DHA. The omega 3 fats probably come from olive oil which is part of Omega XL.
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 For 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.
Who Makes 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” when this review was created. 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.
Omega XL is really owned by a company called Pharmalink International Limited. They list their US address as: 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.
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.
The BBB gave Pharmalink a rating of “A+“ when this review was created. See the BBB file for updates and more information.
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 some EPA and DHA, (natural blood thinners). Regardless of this, I feel it's smart to talk to a doctor first if you take blood thinner drugs.
As with all supplements not specifically prescribed by your doctor:
- Stop taking Omega XL at least 2 weeks before having surgery.
- Speak to your doctor first if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
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.
Other Green- Lipped Mussel Supplements?
Omega XL gets a lot of attention, but there are other green-lipped mussel supplements being sold too. Some of these are less expensive than Omega XL. A few that I found on Amazon include:
Even Plexus Slim, has added Lyprinol one of the products sold by Plexus Slim. See the 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 Omega XL Lyprinol (Lyprinol / PCSO-524) 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 in Omega XL (called, PCSO-524) may have health benefits although, because some of the studies have problems with how 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 people may notice pain relief from this supplement.
What do you think?