Omega XL, touted on TV as a “natural solution for arthritis and joint pain,” is an 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. The questions I get asked most are “Does Omega XL work? and “Is Omega XL just a fish oil supplement?“Ill answer this and many other questions in this review. By the end of this review you will know what Omega XL is and whether it's right for you.
What Does Omega XL Do?
Omega XL is a supplement touted to reduce pain. The key ingredient in the supplement comes from the green lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus). It may do other things too as you will see from the research below.
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. I'll mention some big words here. They are not necessary for you to know unless you read the research studies I'll list below. If you dont care skip this section.
The key active ingredient in Omega XL is a compound called “PCSO-524.” This name refers to fatty acids that come from the green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus) in New Zealand.
By reducing inflammation, pain might be reduced.
Who Makes Omega XL?
Omega XL is distributed 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.
To Contact Great Health Works, call 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. See the BBB file for more information.
It turns out however Omega XL is really produced by a company called Pharmalink International Limited. They list their US address as: In the US, their distributors are:
- Great HealthWorks
It also appears that Great HealthWorks -who you see on the Larry King TV commercial – does not make Omega XL but rather is the US distributor of it.
What Is Lyprinol?
Lyprinol is another name for Omega XL. They are exactly the same thing. Lyprinol is the name of the supplement sold internationally by Pharmalink International. Remember that name if you read the research. Much of the research you see below will be on Lyprinol.
Since they are the same thing, Lyprinol research = Omega XL research.
Omega XL Ingredients
From the bottle, we see 2 soft gel capsules contain 300 mg of the following ingredients:
- Green-lipped mussel extract (PSCO-524)
- Olive oil
- Vitamin E
The key ingredient is the green lipped mussel extract (PSCO-524). Neither the olive oil or vitamin E play any significant roles in the benefits of Omega XL's effects.
Much of the research you'll see 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, it's welcomed. Think about it; if they don't research OmegaXL, who will?
Omega XL Research
The OmegaXL.com website says the “Patented green lipid extract found in Omega XL has been the subject of 25 years of multiple published clinical studies…” I wanted to see the research and so I called Great HealthWorks. I was told AFTER I order Omega XL, they would send me a book that contained that information.
Really – yes!
They told unless I purchased Omega XL, I could not receive the book containing their published research.
This policy is unacceptable.
Fortunately, the studies can be accessed via the National Library of Medicine.
For this review, I will only look at human studies.
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 young men (average age was 22) who exercised on a treadmill (downhill running) to cause delayed muscle soreness (DOMS) and muscle damage. 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 afterward.
Omega XL significantly reduced various measurements of muscle damage compared to the placebo. Those taking omega XL also had significantly less reduction in muscle strength after exercise. While study was funded by Pharmalink International, the maker of Omega XL, the researchers report no conflicts of interest and the company played no role in the study.
The aim of this study was to determine if Omega XL could reduce breathing problems during exercise in people with asthma. Basically they were looking to see if Omega XL would help exercise-induced asthma symptoms. This study lasted 8 weeks and involved 20 college aged men and women with 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 asthma medication use.
This study involved 50 older men and women (44 women, 6 men; average age about 65 years). All people had knee or hip osteoarthritis. For 12 weeks, people were randomly given either:
- 1200 mg of fish oil per day or
- 1200 mg Lyprinol per day (containing 400 mg of PCSO-524)
Those who received the Omega XL extract (PCSO-524) reported significantly less pain and more mobility than those who given fish oil. No side effects from Omega XL were reported and no change in blood pressure or liver enzymes were reported.
This study had no placebo group. Researchers also did not measure changes in inflammation enzymes, the stuff green-lipped mussel extract is supposed to inhibit.
Investigators were testing if PCSO-542 (Remember, that's Omega XL) could reduce muscle soreness after exercise (see this for more on DOMS). In this study, 32 runners performed a 9-mile run (15 km) on an asphalt course at 70% of their maximum aerobic ability. 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 provided 400 mg of the PCSO-524 active ingredient in Omega XL). After 11 weeks, people ran the same 9 mile run again, at the same speed. Blood samples and pain levels 3 days later were recorded for comparison.
Researchers noted runners who received PCSO-542 (OmegaXL) has significantly less delayed muscle soreness (DOMS) than those who took the placebo. 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 was a single-blinded investigation so the researchers knew who was getting Omega XL and who was getting the placebo. Thee types of studies open the possibility that researchers might inadvertently/unconsciously influence the outcomes of the study.
Interestingly, there were no significant reductions in the muscle damage enzyme, creatine kinase levels (CK). Theoretically, if Omega XL reduced muscle soreness, it makes sense that it might reduce CK levels. But no reduction was seen.
Study Title. “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.
71 kids with moderate asthma (age 6-13) 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 asthma symptoms between those taking Omega XL and placebo. Those taking Omega XL saw no changes in wheezing or breathlessness, chest tightness or lost sleep. Omega XL did not cause people to use less asthma medications either.
Study Title: 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.
Study Summary: 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.
Those who received Lyprinol (OmegaXL) showed a “statistically significant reduction in pain, improved levels of mobility and activity” with “no noted effects.” No significant changes were seen in those who received fish oil.
People in this study did have access to acetaminophen (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.
Researchers tried to see if Omega XL could reduce 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.
Study Results: Lyprinol did not reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
Researchers tested CRP levels. CRP is a marker for cellular inflammation. The higher the CPR, the more inflammation. Since Omega XL is marketed to be anti-inflammatory, it should reduce CRP levels. But, it didn't. This is one of the few studies that measured CRP levels.
This is a review of the research previously conducted on the green lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus). The authors concluded there was “little consistent and compelling evidence” (up until 2006).
These researchers were looking at freeze-dried green-lipped mussel powder supplements. This is different than the oil extract, which is what Omega XL is. The review mentions other similar greem lipped mussel supplement such as “Seatone.” I'm not sure if this review is relevant to the discussion of Omega XL/Lyprinol.
|Study Title: Treatment of knee osteoarthritis with Lyprinol®, lipid extract of the green-lipped mussel – A double-blind placebo-controlled study.
67 completed the study with knee osteoarthritis were either given Lyprinol (Omega XL) or a placebo for 6 months.
Those who received Lyprinol had no difference in pain perception than those who received a placebo.
This study does not tell how much Lyprinol people used. Those who took a placebo, showed improvements.
Also, people in this study were allowed to use acetaminophen for pain. This could have masked the effects of OmegaXL.
50 people with rheumatoid arthritis were given a combination of Lyprinol and fish oil supplements for 12 weeks.
62% of the people were able to reduce their arthritis medications by the end of the study.
This study didn't use Omega XL.It used a different supplement called Sanhelios mussel-Lyprinol, which has 35 mg of the green-lipped mussel extract as well as 458 mg of fish oil per capsule. Omega XL has 50 mg of the green-lipped mussel extract per capsule. Also, there was no placebo group.
Study Title: 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.
60 people with osteoarthritis of the hip and knee (54 people completed the study) were given 4 capsules (600 mg) of Lyprinol per day for 8 weeks.
Researchers report that 80% of people said they experienced significant pain relief and improved joint function. No side effects were reported.
There was no placebo group.
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 expiatory flow, compared to those who received a placebo. In other words, their asthma got better.
This 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.
Study Title: 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.
30 people with arthritis (osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis) were given either freeze dried green-lipid mussel powder (1150mg/day) or Lyprinol (210 mg/day) for 3 months.
Both supplements decreased pain, swelling and stiffness in people. Researchers noted that 70% of those with osteoarthritis benefited from the treatments and 76% of those with rheumatoid arthritis also benefited.
While the results are impressive, neither supplement improved hand grip strength. You'd think if arthritis pain was less, then people should be able to grasp things tighter (because they were in less pain). But this did not happen. Also there was no placebo group in this study.
Study Title: Perna canaliculus in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. I can't find the results of this investigation.
Study Title: Perna canaliculus in the treatment of arthritis.
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. This was not OmegaXL but I'm adding it because it's a study of green lipped mussel.
76% of the rheumatoid and 45% of the osteoarthritis group reported improvements in pain/ stiffness. 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. If arthritis pain got better, then grip strength should improve also. I believe this may be the very first study performed on green-lipped mussel extract.
Summary Of Arthritis Research
Kudos if you made it through all those studies! 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 7 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
OmegaXL is also touted to improve asthma. 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 these 3 studies, 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. Again, this goes to problems with how the investigations were conducted.
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, like 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?
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 evidence that Omega XL helps humans with IBD symptoms. The evidence I did see involved lab mice such as this 2005 study.
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 3 studies 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.
Omega XL Pro And Con
Here's a quick review of what I liked and didn't like about Omega XL
|Lots of studies||Many studies have problems|
|Available at Amazon & Ebay||Expensive|
|Few side effects||Over the top claims|
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 PCSO-524. 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 OmegaXL is 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 can't say.
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.
Omega XL Side Effects
Omega XL is safe in healthy people. None of the human studies report any significant side effects from Lyprinol/Omega XL. Some studies have even noted no interaction with blood thinner medications, which is interesting since Omega XL contains low amounts of EPA and DHA, (natural blood thinners). Regardless, I feel it's smart to talk to a doctor/pharmacist first if you take blood thinner drugs.
As with all supplements not 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 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, 2 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.
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). Taking this option enrolls you in an autoship program. This means you'd automatically get shipped a new 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. Even Plexus Slim, has added Lyprinol one of their supplement. 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 supplements 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.
Does Omega XL Work?
There is no doubt that Omega XL (also called Lyprinol) has racked up a LOT of research over the last several years. The majority of these studies appear to show 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 need to be done. While I can't say Omega XL will work for everybody, it's possible that some people may notice pain relief from this supplement. Because it can be expensive, shop around for the best price.