One dietary supplement for better joint health that has caught my eye in magazine ads and on television commercials is Instaflex. The name makes it sound as though it can provide instant pain relief and better flexibility.
There are two well-known athletes standing behind the product -- college and professional football quarterback Doug Flutie and U.S. women's soccer player Carla Overbeck. Flutie claims Instaflex helped reduce his back pain. Overbeck credits Instaflex with relieving severe joint pain. What's in Instaflex and can it live up to the hype?
Available Formulations of Instaflex
There are four formulations of Instaflex: Joint Support, Bone Support, Muscle Support, and Multivitamin:
Instaflex Joint Support contains eight active ingredients. The daily dosage is three capsules taken together in the morning or evening. The daily dosage serving contains:
- Glucosamine Sulfate 1,500 mg
- Methylsulfonlylmethane (MSM) 500 mg
- White Willow Bark Extract 250 mg (Standardized to 15% salicin)
- Ginger Root Concentrate 4:1 250 mg
- Boswellia Serrata Extract 125 mg (Standardized to 65% boswellic acid)
- Turmeric Root Extract 50 mg (Standardized to 95% curcumin)
- Cayenne 40m H.U. 50 mg
- Hyaluronic Acid 4 mg
Instaflex Bone Support also has a recommended daily dosage of three capsules a day, which contain six active ingredients:
- Calcium Carbonate 1,000 mg
- Vitamin D3 400 IU
- Ipriflavone 600 mg
- Horsetail Herb 300 mg
- Glucosamine Sulfate 30 mg
- Silica 18 mg
Instaflex Multivitamin, with a recommended dosage of one per day, contains an array of vitamins, including 3,500 IU of Vitamin A, 90 mg of Vitamin C, 500 IU of Vitamin D, 50 IU of Vitamin E, 30 mcg of Vitamin K, 1.5 mg of Thiamine (vitamin B-1), and several more.
Instaflex Muscle Support is formulated to reduce muscle cramps, decrease soreness, and hasten muscle healing. The daily recommended dose is three capsules per day. The six active ingredients are:
- Vitamin D3 400 IU
- Vitamin E 30 IU
- Calcium 300 mg
- Magnesium 150 mg
- Potassium 99 mg
- L-Glutamine Monohydrate 500 mg
How Quickly Does Instaflex Work?
According to the Instaflex website, "Instaflex begins working from your very first dose, most notice a substantial difference after 7 days. We recommend, however, that users take Instaflex for a minimum of three months to observe full effects."
WarningsInstaflex Joint Support contains crustacean shellfish (shrimp, crab). People with allergies to shellfish should not take Instaflex Joint Support. Also, according to their website, "if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a history of heart conditions, we suggest consulting with a physician before using Instaflex." (Note: Instaflex contains no gluten).
A Closer Look at What's in Instaflex Joint Support
Glucosamine Sulfate - Glucosamine sulfate is a normal component of glycoaminoglycans in the matrix of cartilage and in synovial fluid. The supplement is derived from shellfish. According to a marketing report, 50% of joint health supplements are composed with glucosamine. The effectiveness of glucosamine for building cartilage and improving the health of joints has been debated for years. But its popularity has survived the debate.
MSM - Methylsulfonylmethane is normally found in the human diet -- in plants, fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy. MSM is also found in the human adrenal gland. MSM is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have revealed that MSM modestly reduced pain and swelling, but did not relieve joint stiffness.
Willow Bark - The use of willow bark dates back to Hippocrates (400 BC) when patients were advised to chew on it to decrease inflammation and fever. Willow bark is still used today to relieve pain related to low back pain, osteoarthritis, headache, and inflammatory conditions. The bark of white willow contains salicin, a chemical similar to aspirin. Salicin was actually used to develop aspirin in the 1800s.
Ginger Root - Ginger may have anti-inflammatory effects due to inhibition of COX and lipoxygenase. It may also affect tumor necrosis factor, as well as the synthesis of inflammatory prostaglandins. The aforementioned are enzymes or cytokines involved in the inflammation response. There is no evidence to support recommending ginger for osteoarthritis, according to reports.
Boswellia Serrata - Boswellia serrata has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years. An enriched extract of the plant can be used as a successful treatment for osteoarthritis. There were no major adverse effects in the osteoarthritis patients involved in studies for boswellia.
Cayenne - Cayenne is a spice derived mainly from two cultivated species of the Capsicum genus, Capsicum annuum L. and Capsicum frutescens L. The level of pungency or heat of the Capsicum species depends primarily on capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne. Studies involving cayenne or capsaicin primarily involved the ingredient in topical form.
Hyaluronic Acid - Hyaluronic acid may have a protective effect on cartilage, and may reduce the production and activity of chemicals involved in inflammation.
The Bottom Line
The maker of Instaflex Joint Support designed its product to be an all-encompassing joint solution, bringing the most effective supplements together in one product. The product launched in the summer of 2010 in the U.S. in GNC stores. The vitamin retailer obtained exclusive rights to sell Instaflex Joint Support. Now, Instaflex Joint Support is available around the world, from Canada to Turkey.
The product is marketed as a high quality solution that contains "proven ingredients." As with all supplements, keep your expectations realistic. Learn about the ingredients. Talk to your doctor to see if he feels Instaflex is worth a try. It should be noted that, according to a marketing representive from Instaflex, "We do not have full product studies, only ingredients. We are working on getting these studies."
Dietary Supplements for Osteoarthritis. P. Gregory, M. Sperry, A. Wilson. American Family Physician. January 15, 2008.
Instaflex. Instaflex.com. Accessed 5/20/2012.
Willow Bark. University of Maryland Medical Center. 12/11/2010/
Cayenne. Complementary Medicine. University of Maryland Medical Center. 12/12/2010.