Pine bark extract may boost endothelial function in at-risk people

By Stephen DANIELLS

- Last updated on GMT

Pine bark extract may boost endothelial function in at-risk people

Related tags: Endothelial function, Atherosclerosis

Daily supplements of extracts from French Maritime Pine bark may strengthen metabolic parameters, reduce LDL cholesterol and curb oxidative stress in people with an increased risk of coronary artery disease (CAD).

Data from a study with 93 participants in Italy indicated that supplements of Pycnogenol may help improve endothelial function for those with borderline hypertension, hyperglycemia, or hyperlipidemia.

Twelve weeks of supplementation with the pine bark extract were associated with a 66% improvement in endothelial function, a 20% reduction in oxidative stress, and a normalizing of blood pressure in subjects with borderline hypertension, according to findings published in International Angiology.

 “This study builds on previous research showing that Pycnogenol can play a role in helping to reduce platelet aggregation, blood pressure and oxidative stress,” ​Dr. Gianni Belcaro from Chieti-Pescara University in Italy and lead researcher of the study.  “These new findings show and confirm that Pycnogenol can help improve overall endothelial function – an important area of research for millions of patients and an essential step in the progression of pre-clinical atherosclerosis – especially those with borderline hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia or borderline hypertension.”

A raft of health benefits

Pycnogenol is a combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids extracted from the bark of the maritime pine. It 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 sports nutrition, relief of hay fever, PMS, tinnitus, hemorrhoidal pain and menopause symptoms.

Study details

Dr Belcaro and his co-workers recruited 93 people with borderline symptoms (32 hypertensives, 31 hyperlipidemics, and 30 hyperglycemics) to participate in their study. They also recruited 31 people with normal health measures to act as controls. The borderline participants in each group were further divided in two: One half continued to receive the best available management to control their symptoms, while the other half received the best managementplus 150 mg/day Pycnogenol.

Results showed that, after 12 weeks, metabolic values and blood pressure were back to normal in all subjects. The Pycnogenol groups displayed “slightly better” values that the non-supplemented participants, said the researchers.

In addition to improvements in endothelial function, oxidative stress, and blood pressure in the borderline hypertensives, the pine bark supplements were also associated with reduced cholesterol levels in participants with borderline hyperlipidemia and improved fasting glucose levels in the group with borderline high glucose levels.

Commenting on the potential mechanism(s) of action, Dr Belcaro and his co-workers noted that the extract may control oxidative stress by scavenging both hydroxyl radicals and superoxide anions.

“New significant connections are under investigation considering alterations in endothelial function, inflammation, oxidative stress and other cardiovascular risk factors,” ​wrote the researchers. “It is possible that progression in arterial changes and clinical events may be linked to the connection between oxidative stress, inflammation and endothelial function. The improvement in endothelial function in previous studies had suggested that Pycnogenol may be effective on this triad (inflammation/oxidative stress/ endothelial function) particularly in preventive programs.”

“The effective action of Pycnogenol on the triad oxidative stress, endothelial function and inflammation may now offer an important preventive management possibility in particular for borderline hypertensive, borderline hyperglycemic and borderline hyperlipidemic subjects,” ​they concluded.

From pine to oak

Horphag, the company behind the ingredient, also recently has launched a new ingredient based on French oak wood that it is branding Robuvit​.

Robuvit is already the subject of six published papers listed on PubMed​, with six more papers coming soon, said Ferrari. (References: Belcaro G et al., 2014, J Neurosurg Sci​; Deáková Z et al., 2015 Gen Physiol Biophys​; Horvathova M et al., 2014, Oxid Med Cell Longev​; Belcaro G et al., 2014 Minerva Med​; Natella F et al., 2014, J Agric Food Chem​; Belcaro G et al., 2014, Panminerva Med​.)

Source: International Angiology
Volume 34, Number 1, Pages 43-52
“Effects of Pycnogenol on endothelial dysfunction in borderline hypertensive, hyperlipidemic, and hyperglycemic individuals: the borderline study”
Authors: S. Hu, G. Belcaro, U. Cornelli et al. 

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