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The algae Fucus vesiculosis is one of the algae extract ingredients being studied. (Photo: Stock File/ FIS)

Seaweed extract gives arthritis sufferers hope

Click on the flag for more information about Australia AUSTRALIA
Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 17:00 (GMT + 9)

A seaweed extract nutrient complex may lessen osteoarthritis symptoms by up to 52 per cent, according to results from phase I and II clinical trials funded by the product manufacturer.

Pain, stiffness, difficulty with physical activity and overall symptom severity of the knee were reduced after 12 weeks of supplementation with a blend of extracts from three seaweeds, vitamin B6, zinc and manganese, report findings published in Biologics: Targets & Therapy.

Currently, glucosamine - extracted from the shell of crabs, lobster and shrimps - dominates the joint health market. Cargill also markets a non-animal, non-shellfish derived product often used in combination with chondroitin sulphate, which is extracted from the cartilage of animals such as sharks.

US sales for these combined supplements were USD 810 million (EUR 563 million) in 2005, informs the Nutrition Business Journal.

Yet, inconsistent study results have led to the promotion of alternatives to glucosamine, including omega-3 fatty acids, extracts from egg shell membranes, collagen and pine bark extracts.

Depending on the results of follow-up studies including a phase III randomized controlled trial (RCT), which use Marinova’s Maritech branded ingredient, the brown seaweed extract may become a new alternative.

Maritech® is made up of extracts of Fucus vesiculosis (85 per cent), Macrocystis pyrifera (10 per cent) and Laminaria japonica (5 per cent) plus vitamin B6, zinc and manganese.

The small study included 12 osteoarthritis sufferers with an average age of 62 and used two doses – 100 mg or 1,000 mg for 12 weeks.
Using the internationally-validated COAT (Comprehensive Osteoarthritis Test) assessment protocol, researchers found a dose-dependent response in the respondents, with the lower dose associated with an 18 per cent reduction in symptoms and the higher dose with a 52 per cent reduction.

The study medication was well-tolerated by patients and the few adverse effects were likely unrelated to the preparation.

By Natalia Real


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