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Wednesday, 19 April, 2000, 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK
Mussels 'helped arthritic dogs'

Dogs' arthritis was eased, claime researchers
The symptoms of a group of dogs crippled by arthritis were eased by a diet enriched with extracts from the green-lipped mussel.

But arthritis experts in the UK say there is little scientific evidence to show that it works in humans, despite its years in favour as a complementary therapy for the condition.

Arthritis is a common problem in older dogs, and the study involved feeding 32 mongrels either a "dummy" placebo or a powder made from the mussels.

This was added to their normal food.



Green-lipped mussels are a rare commodity
After six weeks, the dogs were examined for visible signs of lameness, and levels of joint inflammation.

This "total arthritic score" had improved in four out of five dogs given the mussel extract.

Half of the dogs given the treatment had improved by at least half.

In those not given the supplement, the scores had deteriorated slightly.

Dr Linh Bui, who conducted the trial, said: "We've been feeding this diet to dogs with arthritic symptoms and they improved amazingly."

Sadly, once the dogs stopped eating the supplement, their symptoms worsened once more.

However, arthritis experts stressed that even though the extract appeared to work in a tiny study involving dogs, it was less certain whether it would work for their owners.



The mussel extract is already marketed in the UK
Even Dr Bui conceded that the varying diet of humans could interfere with its working.

A spokesman for the Arthritis Research Campaign said: "There have been studies which suggest a benefit, and an equal number which suggest no benefit.

"Although people do take green-lipped mussel we don't think there is any evidence to show that it works - it could all be in the mind."

The active ingredient of the mussels remains unclear even to its proponents, although a fatty acid called icosatetranoic acid is one candidate.

Extracts of the mussel are already marketed in the UK as a complementary therapy for arthritis.

Other research suggested that they might have cancer-fighting properties.

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See also:

01 Aug 99 | Health
Mussel offers cancer hope
08 Jun 98 | Medical notes
Complementary medicine
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