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J Ocul Pharmacol Ther. 2009 Dec;25(6):537-40.

Pycnogenol improves microcirculation, retinal edema, and visual acuity in early diabetic retinopathy.

Steigerwalt R, Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Di Renzo A, Grossi MG, Ricci A, Dugall M, Cacchio M, Schönlau F.

Irvine2 Vascular Labs and Microcirculation, Physiology, Department of Biomedical Sciences, G D'Annunzio University, General Surgery, Guardiagrele (Ch)-Ortona (Pe) Pescara, San Valentino Vascular Screening Project, San Valentino, Italy.

PURPOSE: The growing numbers of diabetes cases in the developed world are followed by increasing numbers of people diagnosed with diabetic complications. Diabetic microangiopathies in the eye lead to the development of retinopathy involving gradual loss of vision. Previous studies with Pycnogenol showed effectiveness for stopping progression of preproliferative stages of retinopathy. The aim of our study was to show protective effects of Pycnogenol in early stages of retinopathy, characterized by mild to moderate retinal edema in the absence of hemorrhages or hard exudates in the macula center. METHODS: Following treatment with Pycnogenol (24 patients) for 3 months, retinal edema score (dilated ophthalmology) and retinal thickness (high resolution ultrasound) showed statistically significant improvement as compared to the placebo group (22 patients), which showed negligible changes to baseline. Laser Doppler flow velocity measurements at the central retinal artery showed a statistically significant increase from 34 to 44 cm/s in the Pycnogenol group as compared to marginal effects in the control group. RESULTS: The major positive observation of this study is the visual improvement, which was subjectively perceived by 18 out of 24 patients in the Pycnogenol group. Testing of visual acuity using the Snellen chart showed a significant improvement from baseline 14/20 to 17/20 already, after 2 months treatment, whereas no change was found in the control group. CONCLUSIONS: Pycnogenol taken at this early stage of retinopathy may enhance retinal blood circulation accompanied by regression of edema, which favorably improves vision of patients.

Source: PubMed

Nutr Res. 2008 May;28(5):315-20.

Reduction of cardiovascular risk factors in subjects with type 2 diabetes by Pycnogenol supplementation.

Zibadi S, Rohdewald PJ, Park D, Watson RR.

Nutritional Sciences Department, The University of Arizona , Tucson , AZ 85721 , USA .

Patients with type 2 diabetes are at considerable risk of excessive morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD). We investigated the clinical effectiveness of Pycnogenol, a flavonoid-rich dietary supplement, in reducing antihypertensive medication use and CVD risk factors in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Forty-eight individuals were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with parallel-group design. Patients were diagnosed with both type 2 diabetes and mild to moderate hypertension and were undergoing treatment with angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive either Pycnogenol pill (125 mg daily) or matched placebo for 12 weeks. According to the values of blood pressure (BP) measured at 2-week intervals, the pretrial ACE inhibitor dosage was left unchanged, reduced by 50%, or brought back to the pretrial dosage until a stable BP was obtained. Fasting plasma glucose, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c), serum endothelin-1, and urinary albumin were evaluated monthly. Pycnogenol treatment achieved BP control in 58.3% of subjects at the end of the 12 weeks with 50% reduction in individual pretrial dose of ACE-inhibitors (P <.05). Plasma endothelin-1 decreased by 3.9 pg/mL in Pycnogenol-treated group vs 0.5 pg/mL increase in control group (P < .001). Mean HbA1c dropped by 0.8% in Pycnogenol-treated group (P < .05), whereas it decreased by 0.1% in control group. Fasting plasma glucose declined by 23.7 mg/dL in Pycnogenol-treated group vs 5.7 mg/dL in control group (P < .0001). Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol improved significantly in Pycnogenol-treated group, declining by 12.7 mg/dL (P < .001). A significant decrease in urinary albumin level was observed at week 8 compared with the control group (P < .05). However, this reduction was not significant at 12th week. After 12 weeks of supplementation, Pycnogenol resulted in improved diabetes control , lowered CVD risk factors, and reduced antihypertensive medicine use vs controls .

Source: PubMed

Angiology. 2006 May-Jun;57(3):331-9.

Cramps and muscular pain: prevention with pycnogenol in normal subjects, venous patients, athletes, claudicants and in diabetic microangiopathy.

Vinciguerra G, Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Rohdewald P, Stuard S, Ricci A, Di Renzo A, Hosoi M, Dugall M, Ledda A, Cacchio M, Acerbi G, Fano F.

Irvine 2 Vascular Laboratory and Physiology Department of Biomedical Sciences, G. D'Annunzio University, Chieti , Italy .

The aim of this study was to assess the preventive action of Pycnogenol (Horphag Research Ltd, UK ) on cramps and muscular pain in different groups of subjects and patients. The study included a 5-week observation period (4 weeks treatment and one follow-up week after the suspension of treatment) to evaluate the efficacy of Pycnogenol after its withdrawal. Four 50 mg capsules (total dose 200 mg/day) were prescribed with suggestion to drink at least 1.5 liters of water every day. In the first part of the study 66 healthy subjects completed a 5-week follow-up period. The difference between number of cramps attacks recorded within the 2 weeks before inclusion and the number of episodes during the fourth (p <0.05) and fifth (p <0.05) week were statistically significant. In normal subjects the average number of episodes was reduced from 4.8 (1.2) events per week to 1.3 (1.1) at 4 weeks (p <0.05). In venous patients the decrease in events was from 6.3 (1.1) to 2.6 (0.4) per week (p <0.05). In athletes the number of episodes decreased from 8.6 (2) to 2.4 (0.5) (p <0.05). The decrease was still present at 5 weeks in the 3 groups, to levels significantly lower than inclusion values (p <0.05). In the second part of the study, patients with intermittent claudication and diabetic microangiopathy were evaluated and treated (4 weeks). The groups treated with Pycnogenol and the control, placebo groups were comparable. There was a significant decrease in the number of cramps episodes (p <0.05) and in the score concerning muscular pain (p <0.05) in claudicants and diabetics. No significant effects were observed in the placebo groups. In conclusion, cramps and muscular pain, common in these 2 types of patients, were decreased by the use of Pycnogenol. Globally, these results suggest that the use of Pycnogenol prevents cramps, muscular pain at rest, and pain after/during exercise in normals, in athletes prone to cramps, in patients with venous disease, in claudicants, and in diabetics with microangiopathy. The difference is statistically significant considering objective observations (cramps episodes) and evaluating more subjective aspects (score). This indicates that Pycnogenol is effective in reducing pain and cramps during retraining and rehabilitation increasing its efficiency . In starting any physical rehabilitation program, particularly in vascular subjects, the limitation in mobility associated with muscular pain and with cramps tends to be relevant, and controlling these symptoms is useful to speed up the retraining process.

Source: PubMed