FAQs | Safety Info | Contact Us
Home Product Highlights Research Where To Buy? FAQ

John Croft Answers the Most Frequently Asked Questions About GlycoMarineTM

Q1. How did you discover that the New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussel (Perna canaliculus) had properties which could be used to treat arthritic diseases?

A1. The discovery was made when this mussel was involved in a research programme which looked at marine mollusks (shellfish) to see if any of them contained a possible treatment for cancer. The New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussel (GLM) was included in this programme because it is unique and is only found in New Zealand's waters.

Nothing was found in the mussel that would help in the treatment of cancer, but the trials indicated that the GLM demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory activity, and anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat arthritis. Thus, it was thought that GLM might provide a valuable, natural anti-arthritic treatment for this very serious and debilitating disease. Following many years of dedicated research, an extract from the New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel - GlycoMarine� - has proven to be a highly successful treatment, with the added bonus of not exhibiting the classic adverse side effects associated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Q2. Arthritis has many forms and is a very debilitating and painful disease. How can the GlycoMarine, which is a natural product, successfully treat such a serious condition?

A2. GlycoMarine has been shown in laboratory and clinical trials, treating both human and animal subjects, to be very effective in treating both the rheumatoid and osteo forms of arthritis. How it does this is an interesting story (involving the use of a few medical and scientific terms, which I will try to explain clearly) that suggests the untapped power of nature (and marine life in particular) to provide remedies for many ailments. The difficult part is finding these remedies amongst the multitude of life forms present in the seas!

GlycoMarine has two distinct anti-inflammatory activities naturally present. The principal anti-inflammatory activity is due to a carbohydrate complex, which has the ability to inhibit the emigration of neutrophils from blood vessels. What this means in everyday terms is that soldier cells (neutrophils) are inhibited from attacking our own cells when an inflammatory stimulus is present. This is an oversimplified explanation of neutrophil action, but hopefully, explains why the inhibition of this activity helps reduce inflammation. This same mechanism is used by some anti-inflammatory drugs.

The second anti-inflammatory activity is due to the effect of the natural content of long chain fatty acids on cyclo-oxygenase and 5-lipoxygenase activities. These compounds are enzymes, which the body uses to biosynthesise compounds called prostaglandins and leukotrienes. Unfortunately, some of these compounds are pro-inflammatory and it is therefore advantageous to inhibit their biosynthesis. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, indomethacin and phenylbutazone perform this function effectively, but unfortunately, they also inhibit the production of prostaglandins which are needed for the protection of the stomach lining, for helping kidney function and for some blood characteristics. GlycoMarine has the very desirable and most important benefit of inhibiting the damaging prostaglandins whilst not influencing the necessary ones.

Another valuable feature of the product is that it has been found to have natural gastroprotective properties. This means that, not only does it not damage the delicate stomach lining, it actually provides a protective function for it. Thus, the product is able to relieve the inflammatory symptoms associated with arthritic diseases whilst protecting the stomach from the damaging effect of some painkillers, should a person find it necessary to be taking these at the same time.

Q3. You mentioned earlier that GlycoMarine is effective in treating osteoarthritis as well as the rheumatoid form of arthritis. Osteoarthritis has a different cause, and is a very different form of the disease, so can you explain how the product can function for both disease states?

A3. This question puzzled us for some time. We were well aware of the product's success in treating osteoarthritis, but could not offer an adequate explanation for this success. However, the discovery of the chondroprotective activity of glucosamines and chondroitin sulfates led to the answer to our puzzle. GlycoMarine has a natural content of glycosaminoglycans, which is the name for a group of polysaccharides that includes chondroitin sulfate amongst a few others such as dermatan sulfate, hyaluronic acid, etc. These glycosaminoglycans (which use glucosamine molecules as the raw material for their building blocks) are used by the body for the biosynthesis of compounds called proteoglycans. The proteoglycans have a very strong affinity for water molecules in the joints, to which they bind, and form very large, slippery, space-filling molecules. The function of these large combination molecules is to act as shock absorbers and also lubricants in the joints.

Therefore, we have in GlycoMarine an anti-inflammatory activity, which is necessary to relieve the inflammatory component of osteoarthritis coupled with chondroprotective activity which relieves the physical problem of degenerative bone condition.

There is one further point worthy of mention here, which relates to the increased rate of cartilage degeneration in the joints in arthritic disease and also in advanced age. In young people, and those not affected by arthritis, the rate of cartilage degeneration in the joints is equaled by that of regeneration. In the older person and in arthritic disease states, this balance is upset - leading to a reduction in the padding and lubrication of the joints. Certain cytokine induced enzyme activity is known to accelerate the breakdown of the cartilage process and the inhibition of this enzymic activity is thus very desirable. GlycoMarine has been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit cytokine activity, which would lead to the production of cells responsible for this process.

Q4. You mentioned that GlycoMarine is an extract of the GLM. There are several products on the market which boast GLM content, are these all the same extract with the same properties as GlycoMarine?

A4. No, unfortunately there are several "imitation" products which do not have the beneficial properties I have described, for reasons which I will explain. This is a very important question, because people could be spending their money and hoping for relief by way of one of these products, which has no therapeutic value whatsoever! Unfortunately, the customer is not able to tell by the appearance, smell or even the nutritional analysis whether the product is the genuine extract or simply freeze-dried (lyophilised) whole mussel meats ground into a powder. The only way the customer can be sure that they are getting the genuine product is by requesting it by the brand name, GlycoMarine.

The reason that these imitation products (which are essentially just freeze dried whole mussel powder) do not perform the functions I have described for GlycoMarine, is that the anti-inflammatory activity of the mussel decreases at a rapid rate when the mussel dies. Additionally, if the extract is not stabilized during the extraction process it becomes nearly worthless. Thus, because mussel powders (as opposed to mussel extract powder) are made from frozen mussel meat, and in some cases, even from cooked mussel meat, the activity has been lost or destroyed. This fact does not show up in a nutritional analysis, but has to be established by a special bio-assay which has been specifically developed for proving that production batches of GlycoMarine have an acceptable level of activity.

There is one other mussel product which is currently being marketed which is an extract. However, it contains only the lipid (oils and fats) fraction of the mussel, which have been solvent extracted, mixed with soybean oil, and presented in soft gelatin capsule form. Whilst this product will have some of the activity which I have described for GlycoMarine, it has only one of the active fractions which are present in GlycoMarine, and therefore, is much less effective than the complete extract. I feel very strongly, that people suffering painful conditions such as arthritis, should not be misled into paying for products which will only lead to false hope and eventual disappointment; this is why I am happy to answer this question in such detail.

Q5. Your answer to my last question indicates clearly that you are very much against the selling of unproven or copycat products, where the marketer's interest lies in huge profit margins rather than product efficacy. How can you satisfy people that GlycoMarine has been proven to benefit sufferers of arthritis? For example, has the product been subjected to proper, and independent, clinical trials?

A5. One of the reasons that I have been able to give the information in response to the earlier question with such confidence, is the fact that the product has been subjected to a number of randomized, double blind clinical trials involving both human and animal subjects. These trials have taken place in hospitals and research centres in several countries including, the USA, United Kingdom, France, Japan, and New Zealand. Further, the results of the clinical studies have confirmed the evidence received in numerous, unsolicited, anecdotal reports from people all over the world. Many of these reports have come from countries where the product is not on the market, but has been sent there by friends and relatives in other countries who have already had experience with it. By the way, a summary of all the references to these studies, most of which have been published in reputable, peer-reviewed journals, is available to anyone who wishes to confirm the validity of my statements.

To generalize both the anecdotal and controlled clinical study results, they indicate a success rate of about 70% for rheumatoid arthritis and 40% for the osteo form in human subjects. It is only fair to point out that these success rates are not better than can be achieved with regular drug therapy. However, the big advantage of the GlycoMarine treatment is that none of the classical adverse side effects of drug therapy will be experienced. Also, the product can be taken continuously on a long-term basis (I have personal experience with my mother who has taken GlycoMarine for 18 years) with no ill effects.

The benefit for animals (in particular dogs, since they have been the subject of the double blind animal studies) is even higher than that for humans. This may well be due to the fact that animals do not suffer quite the same psychological problems as humans, and therefore, have a lower incidence of unrelated stress factors competing with the treatment.

The level of success described by human subjects (success being a matter of degree) has been surprising. It has ranged from those who have just been able to open a jar or hold a pen again, through professional surgeons who have been able to resume operating practices, musicians who have resumed playing piano at concerts, to wheelchair bound subjects who have been able to resume a more normal mobility. Because of the beneficial influence noted by athletes (subsequently demonstrated in a double blind clinical trial on athletes) some football teams now issue the product to the team as routine, to minimises joint or connective tissue damage and to reduce injury time away from the field!

Q6. You have mentioned long term, continual use of GlycoMarine. Is it necessary to take GlycoMarine forever?

A6. Not necessarily. Some people find that once they are experiencing a satisfactory level of relief, they can stop taking the product altogether until another flare up occurs. However, the majority of people prefer to gradually reduce the daily usage, by trial and error, until they establish the minimum daily maintenance requirement, usually one or two 500 mg capsules per day. There are, of course, some cases where it seems to be necessary to continue the full dosage all the time, but these would certainly be the rare cases.

I suspect that in many instances it is a fear of the symptoms recurring (after being free of them) that makes people reluctant to cease taking any capsules at all. Since taking them on a continual basis will not do any harm, this is quite an acceptable practice. It is also possible that there is a prophylactic benefit in relation to the inhibition of degenerative joint disease.

Q7. What is the recommended daily usage level for GlycoMarine?

A7. The normal level is based on about 1 gramme per day for the average adult. This equates to 2-3 capsules each day (depending on the dosage used by different brands) but there is no danger in doubling this level if desired. There have been occasions where doubling the level has achieved results which were not apparent at the recommended level, but this has not been a general finding.

Q8. Are you claiming that GlycoMarine has no side effects?

A8. Certainly not! In fact I do not believe that there is anything which has pharmacological activity which does not have some side effects. The question is the nature and level of side effects that might be experienced.

The side effects, which might be experienced by people using GlycoMarine, are based on clinical trial reports, plus those reported by customers during the 30 years of worldwide usage. There are no serious adverse side effects associated with use of GlycoMarine. However, because the product is a shellfish derivative, it may create an allergic reaction in people susceptible to shellfish allergy. If a person wishes to try the product, but suspects that they may be allergic to shellfish, they can just take one capsule per day for a few days, and if no allergy reaction occurs, they can then gradually increase up to three capsules daily. If a person does experience an allergic reaction, they should stop using the product and the symptoms will disappear. A reduction of allergy symptoms can be accelerated by the use of a suitable anti-histamine prescribed by a healthcare practitioner.

In a few cases, there has been a temporary exacerbation of arthritic symptoms shortly after commencing use. This condition has only lasted for a few days, and has almost always preceded excellent results. Obviously, if one is currently using conventional drug therapies, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, it is imperative that any reduction in the consumption of these drugs takes place gradually. An individualized weaning programme should be implemented.

Some people have experienced mild indigestion and flatulence, but the likelihood of these can be minimized by making sure that the product is consumed at the start of a meal. On a positive note, there is a beneficial side effect which has been reported frequently by humans and is very noticeable in animals, namely, a significant enhancement of vitality, often described as 'a feeling of well being'. This could, of course, be simply due to the effect of relief from pain coupled with increased freedom of movement.

Incidentally, I should advise that even though GlycoMarine is derived from a widely consumed food, the product has been subjected to the standard, international tests for toxicity as well as teratogenicity, to ensure that it is perfectly safe to consume at many times the recommended usage level without causing toxic effects or adversely influencing a developing fetus in a pregnant woman.

Q9. Is GlycoMarine safe to take together with other medications?

A9. There have been no reports of any contra-indications when GlycoMarine has been taken together with other anti-inflammatory products, whether these have been drugs or natural preparations. It is unlikely that GlycoMarine would contra-indicate with other pharmaceuticals due to its basic food status. However, it would be preferable for it not to be used if a person was using monoamine oxidase inhibitory drugs (anti-depressants which are not generally used). Also, it is important to note that GlycoMarine should not be used to treat gouty arthritis. The reason for this is that an excess of uric acid, which precipitates in the joints, causes gout. In common with cheese and wine, shellfish contains a significant level of purine nitrogen, which would act as a precursor for the biosynthesis of uric acid!

Q10. You have referred to the fact that GlycoMarine is beneficial for treating animals with arthritis. Do many animals suffer from arthritis?

A10. Yes, most animals suffer arthritic complaints at some stage in their lives. This tends to be degenerative joint disease in most cases, and unfortunately, the modern lifestyle has made arthritis almost inevitable for big dogs such as Labradors and German Shepherds as they reach middle to old age. Generally, it is a combination of lack of adequate physical exercise, coupled with too much food, which leads to degenerative joint disease in dogs. It is speculated that factors such as restricted movement or lack of incentive for extensive movement is what contributes to arthritis in both zoo animals and some farm animals. Domestic cats also suffer from this disorder but, probably because they tend to remain relatively agile in old age compared to the other species mentioned, the incidence in cats is lower.

GlycoMarine has been clinically trialed in both cats and dogs, with particularly successful results. However, the bulk of the evidence for the beneficial activities of GlycoMarine in animals has come from anecdotal reports from delighted owners. Reports of such effects have not been limited to owners of dogs and cats, however. In particular, racehorse trainers have reported significantly reduced 'off track' periods caused by inflammatory problems in their horses, followed by significantly enhanced performance when back racing. The veterinary surgeon at Auckland Zoo reported success in treating an elephant, a camel and a giraffe, all of which had developed arthritic problems. A veterinary surgeon in South Africa reported to me personally that he had successfully treated a parrot, which had been unable to grasp its perch prior to receiving the product!

These are just a few examples of the range of subjects which have responded favourably to treatment with GlycoMarine. The importance of this evidence for me is that it removes the suggestion of a placebo effect being responsible for the results. This is a common suggestion, which is made when human subjects describe good results. I firmly believe that the combination of this evidence, together with independent clinical trials in humans and in animals, is sufficient to prove the value of this natural marine product as a safe and effective treatment for one of the world's most debilitating diseases.


John E. Croft is a best selling author, lecturer and internationally recognized speaker. As a marine scientist and research consultant based in Auckland, New Zealand, his life work has been researching the nutritional and therapeutic properties of substances derived from the oceans.

Copyright © 2006 Marine Ingredients, All Rights Reserved.