Update 3/10/20. Instaflex is a joint pain supplement that you may have heard of from its TV and radio ads. The product is said to be “scientifically formulated to help relieve stiff, achy joints and support cartilage repair.” Unlike several arthritis supplements that you may have heard of―like Supple for example―Instaflex has a clinical study showing that it might help some people. So, in this review, I want look at the Instaflex clinical study and give my thoughts about it and the various ingredients in Instaflex―as well as mention other things I discovered while I was investigating this supplement. I also want to address questions people might have about this product. For those who feel Instaflex is expensive, I think I know what its active ingredient might be.
According to the product website, 3 capsules of Instaflex have the following ingredients (there are 90 capsules per bottle):
|Glucosamine sulfate||1500 mg||N/A|
|White willow bark||250 mg||N/A|
|Ginger root extract||250 mg||N/A|
|Boswellia serrata extract||125 mg||N/A|
|Turmeric extract||50 mg||N/A|
|Cayenne 40M H.U.||50 mg||N/A|
|Hyaluronic acid||4 mg||N/A|
N/A = no daily value established
Other ingredients in Instaflex include rice flour, gelatin, vegetable magnesium stearate, and silicon dioxide. The label also indicates that Instaflex contains crustacean shellfish (specifically shrimp and crab), which is where the glucosamine sulfate is derived from.
Instaflex does not contain gluten.
Unlike other arthritis supplements I see, Instaflex does not contain chondroitin sulfate. I actually liked this because I’m not convinced it helps arthritis pain and because for men, chondroitin sulfate may be linked to prostate cancer.
A clinical study exists. Here is a summary of it:
- The study was supported by the makers of Instaflex; however, they took no part in the investigation. None of the researchers have any connection to Direct Digital, either. That's good.
- This was an 8-week study involving 100 men and women with a history of joint pain. People randomly received either 3 capsules of Instaflex or 3 capsules of a placebo per day for 8 weeks.
- People refrained from using arthritis meds, NSAIDs, or joint pain supplements during the study.
- 37% of people taking Instaflex reported overall significantly less joint pain compared with those who took the placebo (16%).
- Those with knee joint pain reported the greatest reduction in pain.
- Joint pain reduction was noticed by the 4th week of the study.
- There were no changes in inflammation markers like CRP or in people’s ability to walk quickly for more than 6 minutes (a common test for arthritis).
- No side effects were reported.
My Thoughts On The Study
It is interesting that people reported that they felt less joint pain, even though blood tests revealed no significant changes in inflammation (CRP levels). CRP is said to measure inflammation in the body. According to this finding, Instaflex didn't reduce CRP levels – and so it didn't reduce inflammation either.
This might mean that changes― not measured by researchers―might be responsible for people feeling less joint pain. I don’t know. I’m speculating.
In addition, one might think that if the joint pain was less, people should be able to walk faster during the 6-minute walking test―but they didn’t.
It’s possible that the inability to walk fast for 6 minutes (a common test for arthritis pain), could be due to poor aerobic ability or poor muscle coordination in subjects. This would make sense but again, this is speculation on my part.
One possible problem with this study is that the subjects were those who had “self-reported history of joint pain in the knees, hip, ankles, shoulders, or hands.” In other words, they just said they had pain, rather than being formally diagnosed with arthritis by a doctor.
But, what was the cause of their joint pain?
Was it osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, or something else? The study does indicate that “only 31%” of the people reported that they had arthritis. But what about the rest of the people? Also, the exact cause of joint pain for the people in the study was not confirmed by a doctor. So, we don’t know what their medical situations really were. This is a problem. This study would have been better if we knew what the cause of the joint pain was.
Instaflex Ingredient Research
Aside from the single study summarized above, I’m not aware of any other Instaflex research. Still, the study appears, for the most part, to be well done. Research or not, the ingredients in Instaflex do show up in other supplements that I’ve already reviewed. For those who want to know more about the ingredients in Instaflex, I will point you to the other reviews where you can discover more information if you choose to. Here’s a breakdown of those reviews:
Glucosamine Sulfate. For more information, see:
MSM. For more information, see:
White Willow Bark. This is an aspirin-like compound. For more information, see:
Ginger root extract. For more information, see:
Boswellia. For more information, see:
Turmeric. For more information, see:
Cayenne. For more information, see:
Hyaluronic acid. For more information, see:
Instaflex Side Effects
Here are some things to consider when using the supplement. This list is not complete:
- start with less than recommended for the first week
- Pregnant or nursing talk to your doctor first
- Talk to your doctor if you take any medications
- The glucosamine comes from shrimp and crab. Those who are allergic to shellfish should talk to your doctor first.
- People who take blood thinner medications should talk to a doctor. Several of the ingredients in Instaflex have blood thinner properties. The ingredients identified that might do this include:
- Glucosamine sulfate
- White willow bark
- Stop taking Instaflex at least 2 weeks before surgery.
- Glucosamine sulfate might raise blood sugar in those with diabetes
- There is some evidence that turmeric might exacerbate gallbladder problems.
- Some online reports mention Instaflex might be associated with sores around the lips of the mouth. This might be due to the cayenne in Instaflex. Cayenne is, after all, “cayenne pepper.”
Ingredients With The Most Evidence
Here is a list of the ingredients in Instaflex that have been studied to help arthritis pain:
- Glucosamine sulfate
- White Willow Bark
Ingredients With Less Evidence
Here are the ingredients that I feel don’t help arthritis pain:
Cayenne. The bottle indicates that Instaflex contains cayenne at a concentration of 40M H.U. For those who are curious, the “M” refers to thousand and “H.U.” refers to Heat Units. So, 40M H.U. means 40,000 Heat Units.I don’t feel it helps because the arthritis research involves applying cayenne cream to the skin. Creams are different than supplements that are taken orally.
Hyaluronic acid. The evidence for hyaluronic acid helping arthritis is based on injections―not supplements. I'm not aware of any good proof that hyaluronic acid supplements help arthritis.
Who Makes Instaflex?
The company behind Instaflex is Direct Digital LLC which has offices in Boston and North Carolina. As can be seen from its website―DirectDigitalllc.com―this is a sales and marketing company. There is nothing wrong with this, but I wanted to mention it for those who thought the company was a laboratory facility.
On the Instaflex.com website, they give this US address for the company: MS #730 913 West 2900 South Salt Lake City, UT 84119.
Direct Digital markets many supplements including a product I reviewed previously called Nugenix, a supplement for men over 40. See my review of Nugenix for additional information.
The Free 14-Day Trial
You may have heard TV or radio ads for a free 2-week trial of Instaflex. Here are the details from the product website of the free trial.
You have to pay $4.99 shipping/handling for them to send you the 2-week trial. They say it typically takes 4 days to receive the 2-week trial bottle. Thus, the 14-day trial period starts 18 days after you order it. That makes sense. You must give them a credit card to receive the 14-day free trial.
Note. The website says that there is only 1 free trial bottle per address allowed. If it’s discovered that a household has received more than 1 free bottle, their credit card used will be charged $37.49.
If you do not call customer service within 18 days of ordering the free trial, the credit card you gave them will be charged $74.88 plus any tax that’s due―and they will automatically send you a 30-day supply of Instaflex. At this point, you will also be enrolled in the Instaflex Auto-Ship program. This means that every 30 days, you will receive another 30-day bottle of Instaflex and your credit card will be charged $74.88 (plus any tax that’s due).
To cancel the automatic shipments of Instaflex, you must call 1-800-438-0920 at least 1 day before the date that your next month’s delivery ships.
How to Return Instaflex
There is a 30-day satisfaction guarantee on all Instaflex auto-ship products. This is true even if the entire contents of the bottle were used. People can return the empty bottle and receive a full refund―including the cost for shipping and handling.
To get a refund on Instaflex, call 1-800-436-0920. When you call, you’ll be given a Return Authorization Number (RMA number). Write the RMA number on the outside of the box that is to be returned. Send the returned items to Instaflex MS #730 Salt Lake City, UT 84119. Returns need to be postmarked within 30 days of purchase. It’s recommended that you get proof from the post office that you returned the Instaflex, just in case it gets lost in the mail.
The website says that after they receive the returned item, it takes 3–5 business days to get a refund, although it may take up to a month to see the refund on your credit card.
for those who want to avoid this return policy. Instaflex costs less on Amazon also.
If you read the Terms of Service page on Instaflex.com, take notice of points #14 and #15 which stipulate that by purchasing Instaflex through the website, people waive their rights to sue the company in court or take part in class-action lawsuits if anything bad were to happen. Rather, people must go through binding arbitration.
Questions and Answers
As part of my review, I’ve noticed a lot of questions were being asked online about Instaflex. Let me try to address some of those questions briefly here:
Will Instaflex help a torn rotator cuff muscle?
A. Probably not. Instaflex is a supplement for joint pain. Torn muscles of the shoulder are different than joint pain from arthritis.
Does Instaflex re-grow cartilage?
A. There is no good proof that the ingredients in Instaflex re-grow or repair joint cartilage.
Where does the gelatin in Instaflex come from?
A. Call Instaflex customer support for this. My guess is the gelatin comes from pigs or cows.
Can Instaflex help dogs or cats with joint pain?
A. I’m not aware of any dog or cat research for Instaflex. I suggest showing the ingredients to a veterinarian who can provide the best answers.
Does Instaflex help joint pain other than in the knees?
A. It’s hard to say. Most glucosamine sulfate research finds that it seems to help the most with knee arthritis pain. Even the Instaflex study summarized above noted that those with knee pain had the greatest relief. The assumption people often make is that this benefit translates to less joint pain elsewhere in the body such as the hips. I don’t think anyone can say with certainty that this is because arthritis is a complex disorder.
Will instaflex prevent arthritis?
A. There is currently no proof that Instaflex or any other glucosamine supplement prevents arthritis. There is some evidence that glucosamine sulfate (not Instaflex) might slow the progression of arthritis. Would Instaflex do this? Maybe, but it’s difficult to say without research.
Is it ok to take Instaflex if I have diabetes?
A. Talk do your doctor if you have diabetes or blood sugar problems. Glucosamine sulfate contains sugar (glucose) which may be a problem for some people.
Will Instaflex help back pain?
A. Instaflex has not been studied for its effects on back pain. I feel that whether it helps or not would depend on what is causing the back pain. Instaflex does contain white willow bark which has an ingredient that’s similar to aspirin. According to the Instaflex clinical study, the amount of this ingredient is equal to about 1/4 of an aspirin tablet. Theoretically, this might offer some pain relief. Regardless, it’s best to see a doctor/physical therapist about the cause of the back pain.
Can Instaflex help gout pain?
A. Gout is a form of arthritis but it’s not the type of arthritis that glucosamine sulfate is shown to help. I don’t think Instaflex (or glucosamine sulfate) will have any effect on gout pain.
Can Instaflex help rheumatoid arthritis?
A. It’s unfortunate that the Instaflex clinical study did not identify the causes of the joint pain people had. If they did, we might have been able to have an idea if it helps or not. That said, glucosamine sulfate has been studied to help osteoarthritis, not rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Could other ingredients in Instaflex have pain-reducing effects that might help RA? Maybe, but without proof, it’s unknown.
How long before it works?
A. According to the Instaflex.com website, they say most people should notice a difference in 7 days but that they recommend giving it 3 months to know for sure. While I am happy for those who feel a difference in 7 days, the clinical study of Instaflex noted that it took 4 weeks before people started to notice a difference. Because of that, I’m not sure if most people who use the 2-week free trial of Instaflex will notice a difference. Much of the glucosamine research I’ve seen indicates that it may take 4–8 weeks before a difference in pain is noticed.
Does Instaflex Work?
Instaflex is different than many other joint pain supplements in that it has a published, clinical trial showing it might help some people. The ingredients chosen for the product seem logical to me for the most part. If it works it's most likely to help osteoarthritis. This is the most common type of arthritis.
I believe the main active ingredient in Instaflex is probably glucosamine sulfate, although some of its other ingredients might add other benefits. Unfortunately, Instaflex vs. glucosamine sulfate research cannot be located.