What Is Osteo Bi-Flex?

Educate Yourself About the Ingredients of This Popular Supplement

Glucosamine molecule
Glucosamine molecule. LAGUNA DESIGN / Getty Images

Osteo Bi-Flex is a dietary supplement that is promoted for joint health. It's often recommended as an over-the-counter treatment for people with knee osteoarthritis and is one of the best-known in this category. 

As with any supplement, you should speak with your doctor before taking Osteo Bi-Flex. Your medical history may indicate that it's not right for you and there may be interactions with other medications.

It's also good to know what's inside this common supplement and what scientific research says about the effectiveness of its ingredients. While Osteo Bi-Flex is not approved by the FDA because it is a supplement, research has been done on the compounds it includes.

What's Inside Osteo Bi-Flex?

Osteo Bi-Flex offers a variety of formulas that contain multiple ingredients and each is a little different. There are, however, a few compounds that the brand promotes as the key ingredients. Among these are "Joint Shield," UC-II Collagen, Glucosamine, ​Chondroitin, and MSM.

What Is "Joint Shield"?

Osteo Bi-Flex promotes "Joint Shield" as its main ingredient. This is a proprietary blend of compounds found only in this product. It is made of 5-Loxin Advanced, which includes Boswellia serrata extract enriched with a compound known as 3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid (AKBA). 

5-Loxin is reported to be beneficial in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.

In one study, 5-Loxin was found to reduce pain and improve physical function in osteoarthritis patients. It does this by controlling inflammation. Though researchers say it is safe, they do err on the side of caution, saying that it may improve joint health.

The Other Ingredients in Osteo Bi-Flex

"Joint Shield" is found in every Osteo Bi-Flex formula, though they differ slightly in the secondary ingredients.

Each of these also has been reported to have some positive effects on osteoarthritis symptoms to varying degrees. However, it should also be noted that further research is still needed.

Glucosamine. Along with chondroitin, glucosamine has long been recommended as a treatment for osteoarthritis. Its true effectiveness is under debate and can vary from one supplement manufacturer to another.

Glucosamine is a natural compound found in human cartilage and is responsible for fluid surrounding the joints. However, in supplements, the shells of shellfish may be used. This raises concerns for anyone who has an allergy to shellfish. Some supplements use lab-generated glucosamine, so it is vital to read the labels carefully.

Chondroitin. Another natural compound found in cartilage, chondroitin helps retain water in join. In supplements, the source for chondroitin is most often animal cartilage. 

It's also important to note that research into the effectiveness of glucosamine and chondroitin varies greatly. Studies and trials from supplement manufacturers show positive results in its effectiveness in osteoarthritis relief. However, trials by independent organizations have found little to no benefit.

UC-II Collagen. This is an undenatured type II collagen that is also reported to support joint health. It is included in a number of Osteo Bi-Flex products. In supplements, it is most often derived from chicken sternum cartilage.

UC-II collagen has shown positive results in independent studies of osteoarthritis treatment. One study noted that subjects with osteoarthritis of the knee who took UC-II collagen reported a 40 percent improvement in physical function, stiffness, and pain. This is significant compared to the 15.4 percent improvement among those taking a combination of glucosamine and chondroitin in the same study.

MSM. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is often sold alone as a dietary supplement for a number of health conditions, including osteoarthritis. Some Osteo Bi-Flex products contain it and typically say "with MSM" on the package. 

MSM is a compound that contains sulfur, which is required by the body's connective tissue. It is thought to fight inflammation, though one study found the benefits to be minimal. It also notes that the clinical significance of MSM and osteoarthritis is unknown.

Supplements that are strictly MSM have been known to have side effects, including upset stomach and diarrhea. It also should not be taken with blood thinners. Discuss this with your doctor as the amount of MSM found in a particular Osteo Bi-Flex product might not be right for you.

Warnings and Precautions 

While it can be easy to think that dietary supplements are safe because they're sold over-the-counter, it's important to discuss this with your doctor. The various formulas of Osteo Bi-Flex contain a number of ingredients that they may caution you against taking depending on your medical history.

Allergies. Shellfish allergies are a concern with some Osteo B-Flex products. Also, some people have allergic reactions to glucosamine (which can be derived from shellfish) or chondroitin.

Pregnant or nursing. It is recommended that women who are pregnant or nursing consult their physician before taking any Osteo Bi-Flex product.

Drug interactions. It seems that there are few drug interactions to be concerned with when taking Osteo Bi-Flex. Warfarin and anisindione are two that have been noted. If you take any medications, check with your doctor before taking Osteo Bi-Flex.

A Note From Verywell

Many people dealing with osteoarthritis have found some relief through the regular use of Osteo Bi-Flex. It is available in a variety of formulas and most require just one or two caplets to be taken each day.

The American College of Rheumatology says that if you've found relief from supplements that include glucosamine or chondroitin, there's no reason to stop taking it. However, they also note that these products will not work for everyone.

While there are studies that back up the benefits of some ingredients found in Osteo Bi-Flex, the supplements themselves have not been tested. Now that you know what's inside this supplement, you can have an informed conversation with your doctor about whether they're right for you.

Source:

Crowley D. Safety and Efficacy of Undenatured Type II Collagen in the Treatment of Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Clinical Trial. International Journal of Medical Sciences. 2009;6(6):312-321.

Debbi EM, et al. Efficacy of Methylsulfonylmethane Supplementation on Osteoarthritis of the Knee: A Randomized Controlled Study. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011 Jun 27;11:50. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-50.

Hess A. Chondroitin Sulfate and Glucosamine Supplements in Osteoarthritis. Arthritis Foundation. 

Marcus DM. Herbal Remedies, Supplements & Acupuncture for Arthritis. American College of Rheumatology. 2015.

Sengupta K, et al. A Double Blind, Randomized, Placebo Controlled Study of the Efficacy and Safety of 5-Loxin for Treatment of Osteoarthritis of the Knee. Arthritis Research & Therapy. 2008;10(4):R85. doi:10.1186/ar2461. 

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