What Is Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO)?

This fatty acid supplement is said to help treat arthritis

Cetyl Myristoleate capsules and topical cream

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Cetyl myristoleate (CMO) is a fatty acid found naturally in certain animals, including mice, cows, beavers, and whales. It is sold in dietary supplement form and is also available as a skin cream.

Cetyl myristoleate is touted as a natural treatment for a number of health conditions, primarily osteoarthritis. However, there is little research to confirm benefits of its use.

Also Known As

  • Cis-9-cetylmyristoleate
  • Cetylated fatty acids

What Is Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO) Used For?

Cetyl myristoleate was initially isolated from National Institutes of Health (NIH) mice after it was found that this substance protected these animals from developing experimentally induced arthritis.

CMO appeared on the market as a supplement in 1991 and continues to be used by consumers as a treatment for bursitis, gout, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and sports-related injuries.

There is a lack of research on the health benefits and safety of cetyl myristoleate. Most of the available research has explored whether it may aid in the treatment of osteoarthritis.


Proponents claim that cetyl myristoleate can help with osteoarthritis, a condition marked by wear and tear of the cartilage surrounding the joints. It is said to relieve joint pain and reduce further joint damage, possibly by reducing inflammation. It is typically taken in supplement form or applied directly to the skin (typically in the form of a cream).

In a 2004 study published in the Journal of Rheumatology, researchers found that use of a cream containing cetyl myristoleate helped improve physical functioning in people with osteoarthritis of the knee.

For the study, 40 patients with the condition were randomly assigned to one of two treatments: a cream made with cetyl myristoleate or a placebo cream. After 30 days of twice-daily treatment, those given CMO showed a 10 times greater improvement in range of motion in their knees than the placebo group.

Additionally, a 2002 study from the same journal found that consuming cetyl myristoleate in an oral supplement may help improve knee range of motion and overall function in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. However, the results were conflicting.

The study involved 64 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee, each of whom was treated with either one of three doses of cetyl myristoleate (100%, 80%, or 62.4% of fatty acid component with 12.5% of CMO) or a placebo for 68 days.

Compared to members of the placebo group, those treated with 100% and 62.4% cetyl myristoleate showed greater functional improvements by the study's end. The 80% group, however, did not show improvement over the control group.

A small 2017 study with 28 subjects published in the journal Medicine showed similar findings—that CMO is effective in reducing pain and improving mobility in patients with mild osteoarthritis of the knee.

While these studies may seem promising, they were small and little is known about the effects of long-term use of cetyl myristoleate.

Other Conditions

Some people use cetyl myristoleate for other types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis. Others use it for the management of autoimmune and other types of conditions, including the following.

However, there is not enough scientific evidence to support the use of cetyl myristoleate for these purposes.

Possible Side Effects

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of cetyl myristoleate supplements, or whether CMO may interact with medications.

Likewise, there is not enough information about CMO to say it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Experts advise that women avoid use of this supplement during these stages.

Cetyl Myristoleate topical cream
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Dosage and Preparation

Cetyl myristoleate is sold in capsule, tablet, and cream forms.

There is not enough scientific evidence to provide a recommended dose of cetyl myristoleate. Different doses have been studied.

For example, in research investigating the supplement's use in the treatment of osteoarthritis, a dose of 1,050 milligrams (mg) of a specific blend of CMO plus 150 mg of soy lecithin and 225 mg of fish oil was taken six times daily.

In studies examining topical creams, a proprietary blend of cetylated fatty acids applied twice daily to the affected joint was found to be effective. The specific concentration of the cream, however, was not reported.

What to Look For

Widely available for purchase online, cetyl myristoleate is sold in some natural-foods stores, drugstores, and retailers specializing in dietary supplements.

When looking for this supplement, you may find cetyl myristoleate combined with other ingredients, such as glucosamine. It is important to read a product's label before you buy it so you know what you are getting.

Keep in mind, however, that supplements are largely unregulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While it is it illegal to market a dietary supplement as a treatment or cure for a disease or to reduce symptoms of one, the FDA does not test products for safety or effectiveness.

In some cases, a product may deliver doses that differ from the amount specified on the label. There have also been published reports of supplements containing ingredients not disclosed on the label.

When choosing a supplement, try to buy from a familiar seller, such as your local pharmacy. Ask questions if you are not sure which product to choose.

In addition, look for products that have been certified by ConsumerLabs, U.S. Pharmacopeia, or NSF International. These organizations don't guarantee that a product is safe or effective, but they do ensure a product has been tested for quality and contains what it says it does.

Common Questions

Can I use CMO if I am vegetarian/vegan?
Most CMO supplements use a form of CMO that is produced using a fatty acid mixture extracted from beef tallow that is esterified with cetyl alcohol from palm oil. There are CMO supplements that use no animal products or derivatives as well. Read product labels carefully to be sure of what you are buying.

What are other natural remedies for arthritis?
A number of other natural remedies may help alleviate arthritis symptoms. For example, some studies show that increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids may help. There's also some evidence that dietary supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and avocado or soybean unsaponifiables may aid in arthritis management.

A Word From Verywell

Due to the limited research about the effectiveness and safety of cetyl myristoleate, it's too soon to recommend it as a treatment for any condition. It should be noted that self-treating a condition with cetyl myristoleate and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using it, make sure to consult your primary care provider first.

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