A probe into joint health supplement Instaflex by the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (NAD) has found that the health claims it makes are supported by evidence.
NAD - an industry-backed self-regulatory forum scrutinising national ad campaigns – asked brand owner Direct Digital to substantiate certain claims made about Instaflex in online and print ads as part of its routine monitoring program on supplement claims.
The claims in question included:
- ‘Relieve and comfort your joints.’
- ‘Increase flexibility.’
- ‘Lubricate for healthy fluid movement.’
- ‘Protect and enhance your mobility.’
Direct Digital said its claims about Instaflex - which contains 1,500mg glucosamine sulfate, 500mg methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), 250mg ginger root extract and 4mg hyaluronic acid - could be backed up by well-controlled studies on all four active ingredients.
Glucosamine studies support claims, other ingredients used in smaller doses
NAD agreed that the claims made by Instaflex were supported by scientific studies involving 1,500mg daily supplementation with glucosamine.
But it added: “In coming to this conclusion, NAD relied on the 1,500 mg of glucosamine in one dose of Instaflex supplements and not on the other ingredients, MSM, ginger root and hyaluronic acid.”
In the MSM studies cited by Direct Digital, for example, the dose of MSM taken by the participants was much larger than the 500mg per day in Instaflex, noted NAD.
Meanwhile, participants in a study cited by Direct Digital to support claims about ginger root extract took twice the amount daily than is found in a daily dose of Instaflex, said NAD.
Finally, in the hyaluronic acid studies submitted by Direct Digital, participants received shots of hyaluronic acid directly into their joints rather than ingesting it as per Instaflex, it noted.
Glucosamine and osteoarthritis
There has been a lot of debate about the efficacy of glucosamine in recent years, with a high-profile meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal in 2010 concluding that: "Compared with placebo, glucosamine, chondroitin, and their combination do not reduce joint pain or have an impact on narrowing of joint space.”
However, some studies have shown that some people with osteoarthritis of the knee may get symptomatic relief after daily supplementation with glucosamine.
CRN: NAD is cheapest and easiest way to tackle dodgy claims
NAD has reviewed more than 100 dietary supplements cases since 2006 and remains the cheapest and quickest way to tackle dubious claims in the trade, according to the CRN, which funds an attorney at NAD specifically to tackle claims about dietary supplements.
Speaking to NutraIngredients-USA.com about the NAD process last year, CRN chief executive Steve Mister said:
“If you go to NAD, you can get an issue resolved in 90 days. If you went to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) or sued a company for false advertising, you wouldn’t even get the pleadings done in 90 days. Some of the cases the FTC has looked at have taken years to resolve.”
He added: “There is always a small number of people, especially those making claims online, that don’t agree to co-operate with NAD, or will just dissolve their business and start again, but most companies realise that NAD is a far better option than the alternative.
“They also know that if they don’t respond, the next phone call they might get could be from an attorney at the FTC.”