Asian pine bark extract shows blood pressure benefits in study

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - Tom Werner
©Getty Images - Tom Werner

Related tags Dietary supplement industry Blood pressure Polyphenols proanthocyanidins Hypertension Atherosclerosis

An extract of the bark of an Asian pine species has shown significant reductions of blood pressure in a study conducted in Australia.

The new research was published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine​.  It was the work of a team of researchers associated with the University of Newcastle.

Move over, you French extracts 

When the words ‘pine bark extract’ are bandied about in the dietary supplement industry, usually extracts of the French maritime species (Pinus pinaster​) come to mind, mostly because of the dozens of studies published by Swiss ingredient developer Horphag.

This current research, however, focuses on a polyphenol-rich extract of Pinus massoniana​, a species of pine native to Taiwan, eastern China and northern Vietnam.  The research was funded by Australian firm Timsor Health & Wellness, a contract manufacturer and ingredient developer.

Health care burden of high blood pressure

The researchers noted that high blood pressure causes a significant disease burden and raises health care costs in Australia.  They wrote that 5% of the total disease burden in the country can be attributed to the condition, which can be caused by obesity, high salt diets or poor diets generally, and lack of exercise.  Genetic factors can also come in to play in some cases.

In the United States, the situation appears to be even more grave.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, almost 1 in 2 adults, or about 116 million people in total, suffer from high blood pressure and only about 25% of those have their condition under control. High blood pressure raises the risks of heart disease and stroke.  According to the CDC, high blood pressure costs the US about $131 billion a year, averaged over the years 2003-2014.

The current study is a secondary analysis of an earlier study that looked into the effects of the pine bark extract on oxidative stress.  The extract itself is rich in proanthocyanidins.

The researchers recruited a cohort of 62 adults aged 55-75, who displayed a range of systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) values.  In concord with the population at large, most of the subjects with high blood pressure were not being treated for the condition. The volunteers were healthy and were not using medications or other supplements that could have interfered with the results.

Benefits in the high blood pressure group

The subjects took 50 ml/day of a supplement containing the pine bark extract or a placebo for 12 weeks.  The study used a double-blind, placebo-controlled design.  The subjects were required to continue their accustomed diets during the duration of the study.

Blood pressure readings were taken at baseline, again at six weeks and at the conclusion of the study. In addition to the raw numbers, the researchers correlated the readings with the range of the subjects’ blood pressure (optimal or less than 120 mmHG, or high) to get a feel for how the extract was able to modulate these values.

The researchers found that the pine bark extract reduced the SBP of those in the high blood pressure group. The reductions were both statistically and clinically significant.  No difference was noted for DBP. Within the optimal blood pressure group, the changes were not statistically significant for either SBP or DBP.

“A polyphenol-rich dietary supplement derived from PMBE led to a clinically and statistically significant reduction in SBP in adults. Future studies to investigate the effects of PMBE-polyphenol supplementation on BP are warranted to confirm and explore optimal dose and impact on hypertension,”​ the authors concluded.

Source:Complementary Therapies in Medicine
2022 Oct 21;102896. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2022.102896. Online ahead of print.
Effect of a polyphenol-rich dietary supplement containing Pinus Massoniana bark extract on blood pressure in healthy adults: a parallel, randomized placebo-controlled trial
Authors: Ferguson JAA, et al.

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