Eggshell Membrane

Eggshell membrane is the clear film lining the eggshell. It is best visible when you peel a boiled egg. Eggshell membrane from chicken eggs are used as a dietary supplement for lessening osteoarthritis symptoms or treating the condition along with other types of stiffness and joint pain.

Eggshell membrane components

  • Collagen (Type 1, up to 25%)
  • Glucosamine (up to 1% by dry weight)
  • Chondroitin Sulfate (up to 2%)
  • Hyaluronic Acid (up to 2%)

Collagen is the fundamental structural protein that guarantees the elasticity,  cohesion, and strength of all the connective tissues in our body, such as, skin, bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments.

Glucosamine is a chemical compound that is naturally found in the cartilage of our joints. Glucosamine– made up of sugar and protein chains bound together – acts as the body’s natural shock absorber. It lubricates our joints to allow smooth movement and cushions our joints to protect them when we fall.

Chondroitin sulfate is a complex substance composed of sulfur, nitrogen, and sugar. It’s unique chemical structure gives it a high negative charge that allows it to attract an abundance of water molecules. Chondroitin’s interaction with water confers special mechanical properties that are important for elasticity and resistance to compression.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a clear substance that is manufactured by the body. This gel-like water holding molecule acts as a lubricating and cushioning agent. 

What are the musculoskeletal health benefits of eggshell membranes?

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a progressive joint disorder caused by breakdown of joint cartilage and underlying bone. Eggshell membrane derivatives have been used to treat osteoarthritis.

The underlying mechanism of eggshell membrane's efficacy is not well understood, but many experts believe eggshell membrane has a positive influence on the immune systems response to chronic inflammation, especially special immune cells called T-cells.

T-cells oversee and regulate the immune systems response to inflammation and can either up regulate or down regulate the potency and longevity of the inflammatory  cascade.

T cells exposed to eggshell membranes seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect and decrease the activity and synthesis of many key inflammation promoting substances such as TNF-α, IL-1β, NF-κB.

Researchers at Missouri State University examined the efficacy of eggshell membrane in a group of patients with knee osteoarthritis. The investigators concluded that the eggshell membrane reduced decreased pain and stiffness compared to the non treatment group. (Ruff et al. Eggshell membrane in the treatment of pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized, multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study. Clin Rheumatol (2009) 28:907–914)

Other Potential Health Benefits

Reduce wrinkles and enhance skin quality

Collagen is vital for healthy, younger skin. A study conducted in 2015 looked at the potential use of eggshell membranes for cosmetic use. The scientists, specifically wanted to see if the eggshell membrane hydrolysates can protect the skin from sun exposure, wrinkles, and moisture loss. In animal model study, they inspected the level of hyaluronic acid and collagen production. The findings turned out to be very promising. The researchers discovered that eggshell membranes possess excellent efficacy to suppress skin aging with their ability to diminish UV-B radiation-induced wrinkles. In general, the study hinted that eggshell membranes could be a superb choice for natural beauty products.

Improve digestion

Two amino acids found in eggshell membrane – proline and glycine – are very important for our bodily functions. These 2 amino acids are important in rebuilding tissue lining the digestive tract. Rebuilding of this tissue ensures that food particles and bacteria remain inside the gut instead of passing through tiny openings and trigger inflammation. Studies have shown that glycine shields against intestinal injury from colitis.

Safety First

Eggshell membrane supplements are generally well tolerated. As with any consideration of any form of supplementation consult your healthcare provide prior to use if you are pregnant, nursing, taking any medications or have any medical conditions. Discontinue use and consult your doctor is any adverse reactions occur.

References

Wong, M.; Hendrix, M.J.; van der Mark, K.; Little, C.; Stern, R. (July 1984). "Collagen in the egg shell membranes of the hen". Dev Biol. 104 (1): 28–36.

Ruff, Kevin J.; DeVore, Dale P.; Leu, Michael D.; Robinson, Mark A. (2009). "Eggshell membrane: A possible new natural therapeutic". Clinical Interventions in Aging. 4: 235–240."ESM History". ESM Technologies. Retrieved 13 June 2014.

Danesch U, Seybold M, Rittinghausen R, Treibel W, Bitterlich N. NEM® Brand Eggshell Membrane Effective in the Treatment of Pain Associated with Knee and Hip Osteoarthritis Results from a Six Center, Open Label German Clinical Study. J Arthritis 2014;3:136.

Ruff et al.  Safety evaluation of a natural eggshell membrane-derived product.  Food and Chemical Toxicology 50 (2012) 604–611

Yoo et al.  Effects of Egg Shell Membrane Hydrolysates on Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Wrinkle, Anti-Microbial Activity and Moisture-Protection.   Korean J. Food Sci. An. Vol. 34, No. 1, pp. 26~32 (2014)

Ruff et al.  Eggshell membrane hydrolyzates activate NF-κB in vitro: possible implications for in vivo efficacy.  Journal of Inflammation Research 2015:8 49–57.