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Pine bark extract shows benefits against metabolic syndrome: Human data

By Stephen DANIELLS , 03-May-2013

Daily supplements of Pycnogenol, an extract from the bark of the French maritime pine, may help reduce health risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome, suggests new data from a human study.

Six months of supplementation with 150 mg/day of the pine bark extract was associated with decreases in waist circumference, triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and an increase in HDL cholesterol in people with metabolic syndrome.

“In this study, we found that Pycnogenol can aid people struggling with metabolic syndrome to control blood lipids, sugar and blood pressure. Results show that those who supplemented healthy diet and moderate exercise with Pycnogenol were able to improve heart health and lose weight, reaching an almost normal body mass index (BMI),” said Dr Gianni Belcaro, a lead researcher of the study.

“This study provides evidence that daily supplementation with Pycnogenol may offer a natural approach to help achieve healthy blood pressure, improved cholesterol and blood sugar levels and ultimately, greater cardiovascular health.”

75 million Americans with Met S

Pycnogenol – a combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids extracted from the bark of the maritime pine – is included in more than 700 dietary supplements, cosmetic products and functional foods and beverages worldwide.

The ingredient has been the subject of scores of clinical studies suggesting benefits covering everything from cardiovascular, joint, cognitive and eye health to the relief of hay fever, PMS, tinnitus, hemorrhoidal pain and menopause symptoms.

The new study, published in Phytotherapy Research, indicates the extract may also offer benefits for people with the metabolic syndrome, a characterized by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. The syndrome has been linked to increased risks of both type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that some 75 million Americans suffer from metabolic syndrome.

Study details

Dr Belcaro and his co-workers followed 130 subjects, aged between 45 and 55 for six months in their open, controlled trial. Participants were given placebo capsules or 50 mg of Pycnogenol three times daily.

Results showed that risk factors of metabolic syndrome were all significantly improved at three months with supplementation of Pycnogenol, with further improvement at six months, said the researchers.

“The use of Pycnogenol to improve metabolic syndrome represents a major advantage to address a risk condition presenting with multiple parameters with a single herbal extract,” wrote the researchers.

“Pycnogenol has been extensively proven to be safe and to show very good tolerability. We conclude that the underlying causes of metabolic syndrome may be improved or corrected with Pycnogenol, a safe, natural and side-effects-free alternative to the use of pharmaceutical compounds.”

Established portfolio

The study was welcomed by Frank Schonlau, PhD, scientific director for Horphag Research, worldwide distributors of Pycnogenol. “This study adds to the already established portfolio of studies on Pycnogenol and heart health conducted over the last 30 years,” he said.  

“Previous studies have shown Pycnogenol is natural solution for individuals with metabolic syndrome, particularly for kidney protection. The natural extract has also been shown in several studies to lower blood glucose in type II diabetic patients.

“Pycnogenol supplementation has been associated with improved cardiovascular health, such as cholesterol reduction, blood pressure control and prevention of thrombosis.”

Source: Phytotherapy Research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/ptr.4883
“Pycnogenol Supplementation Improves Health Risk Factors in Subjects with Metabolic Syndrome”
Authors: G. Belcaro, U. Cornelli, R. Luzzi, M. R. Cesarone, M. Dugall, B. Feragalli, S. Errichi, E. Ippolito, M. G. Grossi, M. Hosoi, M. Cornelli and G. Gizzi

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