GNC taps Ayurvedic herbs for new botanical joint health solution

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Busracavus
Getty Images / Busracavus

Related tags Joint health Ayurveda

GNC says it’s new joint health products will break the market stagnation in this key area within the healthy aging sphere. Called Tamaflex, the products are based on herbal ingredients that work on different pathways than the category’s standard bearers—glucosamine and chondroitin.

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The new products have been in development for more than a year. GNC CEO Ken Martindale says the new products are aimed at bringing new consumers into the category, perhaps some who have already tried the tried and true ingredients with mixed results.

“With TamaFlex, we are bringing innovation to a category that has otherwise been stagnant for nearly a decade,”​ Martindale said. “This launch positions GNC to tap into a $725 million domestic market, as well as drive new revenue streams and customer acquisitions across all channels.”  

Ayurvedic duo

The basic formula is based on turmeric and tamarind extracts. These ingredients that come out of the Ayurvedic tradition are featured together in many traditional Indian herbal medicines and foods, especially in South India. The formula addresses joint health and mobility for consumers (including older users) at a cellular level rather than from a joint structure standpoint, said GNC chief innovation officer Guru Ramanathan.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are structural elements of the joint matrix and provide structural support. TamaFlex however, seems to function using other mechanisms. Preclinical studies showed that the ingredients in TamaFlex were able to impact the cytokine and related enzymatic cell signal pathways to support joint cells,” ​Ramanathan told NutraIngredients

“TamaFlex therefore provides an excellent alternative for those who are looking for more herbal based joint health products to help with joint comfort/function; improve stair climb ability; increase knee joint range of motion; and reduce discomfort following exercise and daily activities,” ​he added.

GNC said that in a 90-day, placebo controlled study with 90 participants, those who received 125 mg of TamaFlex twice daily showed improvements on joint comfort and stiffness measured on the WOMAC scale as well as other improvements including range of motion and increased walking speed and distance.

“TamaFlex is backed by a series of preclinical and clinical studies. We are indeed planning additional studies looking at additional benefits and usage occasions. Work has already commenced, and we expect to complete these studies over the next few months,” ​Ramanathan said.

Vegetarian positioning could bring in new consumers

One of the benefits of TamaFlex is that it can function for vegetarian or vegan consumers, which could help grow the category, Ramanathan said. While there are other vegetarian options, especially for glucosamine, the animal-derived versions still predominate. This is why the new products are featured prominently on GNC’s personalized nutrition section of its website, which it calls Solutions Center.

“TamaFlex Fast Acting is featured within the Joint Health regimen as an option for a joint health formula for vegetarians since it does not contain glucosamine and chondroitin,” ​Ramanathan said.

Ultimately, it’s not only about how you’re feeling today but also about planning for the future—and most of us don’t think about joint health until it’s too late. At GNC we see personalized nutrition as holistic and of course customized to each person’s needs now and in the long-term, and that goes beyond diet. We care about ensuring our consumers know which products will help them meet their goals—whether that’s being able to exercise without joint discomfort or to better fuel their exercise with protein, or maybe it’s just waking up and feeling well-rested and comfortable,” ​he added.

The new product will be offered in a base formula, one that is designed to start showing benefits within five days, and a so-called ‘complete’ formulat that also includes glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid.

Ramanathan is a panelist for our live Q&A session at our Healthy Aging online conference THIS WEEK, on Oct. 25

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