Eggshell Membrane: Discussion | Precision Nutrition

Some Clarifications About Our Work.

The results of this investigation suggest that four weeks of supplementation with 500mg FJC+ daily improves post-exercise joint pain vs. supplementation with placebo, specifically in physically active adults experiencing pain in the ankles, knees, shoulders, and elbows.

Other investigations using EM supplementation have observed similar reductions in joint pain, specifically in populations with osteoarthritis and JCT disorders. In one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, daily oral administration of either 500mg placebo or 500mg EM was given to patients with knee osteoarthritis [24]. After 10 days, rapid improvements in both joint pain and stiffness were seen in the EM group. Improvements in pain and stiffness were sustained (and enhanced) following 60 days of administration. A similar study with JCT patients [25] also observed both rapid (7 days) and sustained (30 days) improvements in pain and flexibility following daily administration of 500mg EM. There were no adverse events reported in either study, and the treatments appeared to be well tolerated by the patients. These statistically and clinically significant outcomes suggest that EM supplementation may be a natural and effective alternative therapy for both clinical populations with limited activity levels as well as physically active populations.

Many of the various components present in EM have been thoroughly analyzed. Eggshells consist of a number of layers: an inner and outer membrane, a mammillary layer (connecting the eggshell and outer membrane), an outer palisade layer, and an outer cuticle covering the eggshell [10]. The inner and outer shell membranes are the first layers of extracellular matrix covering the egg itself [11]; the outer membrane is predominantly made of type I collagen, whereas the inner membrane consists mainly of type V collagen [12]. In addition, type X collagen has been reported to occur in both of these membrane structures [10]. EM amino acid profiles have also shown high concentrations of arginine, glutamic acid, histidine, cystine and proline [13]. Additionally, a number of collagen-like proteins (including hydroxyproline, hydroxylysine, desmosine, and isodesmosine) are primary structural components of the membranes.

Other components have been quantified in EM including: lysyl oxidase (reported to play a role in the development and repair of connective tissue), ovotransferrin, and lysozyme [17-19]. However, the presence of glycosaminoglycans in EM is of particular interest. Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), such as glucosamine, are composed of repeating hexosamine disasccharides and act as major components of connective tissue [20].

Clearly, there are a number of individual components present in the EM that have known physiological roles in joint and connective tissue; however, EM is novel in that it is a natural extract that provides a combined source of these compounds. The absolute quantity of each component in the EM is not known, and those quantities may likely vary with each extraction in the supplement production process. Additionally, it is plausible that a number of yet unisolated elements, proteins, and enzymes exist in EM, which may also contribute to improved joint and connective tissue health. Therefore, the observed benefits associated with EM supplementation may not be directly attributable to any one specific component of the supplement (ie. glucosamine, chondroitin, etc.); it may be more appropriate to assume that the combined effects of the known—and unknown—components of EM contribute to the observed improvements in joint health.

A number of individual components in EM are known to have important roles in maintaining connective tissue in vivo, though the physiological mechanisms by which those components improve overall joint health through supplementation (flexibility, connective tissue repair and maintenance) have not been measured in humans. One experiment, however, investigated the effects of EM supplementation on systemic pro- and anti-inflammatory markers in rats [23]. In this study, rats were given oral doses of EM for 7 days. Significant decreases were observed in plasma levels of numerous inflammatory antigens following supplementation; thus, it is possible that the anti-inflammatory effects of oral EM supplements may contribute to the improvements in joint pain ratings seen in human trials. More research is warranted to investigate these effects.

Interestingly, the most pronounced effects of FJC+ supplementation in this study were present in post-exercise ratings of joint pain. This may be due to the proposed anti-inflammatory benefits associated with EM. If the exercise challenge used in this investigation led to acute joint inflammation, it stands to reason that the most pronounced impact of EM would be to reduce the pain associated with this post-exercise increase in inflammation. This, however, is highly speculative and more research is needed to confirm both the mechanisms of action of EM as well as the situations in which supplementation would provide the most benefit.

One of the most appealing aspects of EM is that this supplement is a natural therapy, unlike the traditional NSAIDs and analgesics, which have led to documented side effects that include serious cardiovascular and gastrointestinal complications [3, 4]. In comparison, there have been no reports of any adverse effects following EM supplementation in human trials [24, 25], including our own.