Study Shows Pine Bark Improved Physical Function

HOBOKEN, N.J., Dec 05, 2007 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- A double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the journal Nutrition Research reveals Pycnogenol(R), (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, improved physical function by 52 percent in patients suffering from OA.

When OA develops, the cartilage gradually looses elasticity and begins to harden and crack, subsequently becoming more prone to damage and erosion by use or injury and often leads to pain, swelling, a decrease in motion at the joint, stiffness, or the formation of bone spurs (tiny growths of new bone). Current treatments include regular exercise and pain relievers such as NSAIDS and COX-2 inhibitor pills to help ease pain and stiffness. In more severe cases, cortisone shots can help decrease inflammation in the joint and extreme cases consist of joint replacement.

"Pycnogenol(R) was chosen due to a history of studies of the extract to alleviate inflammation by inhibiting COX-1, COX-2 and the pro-inflammatory 'master-switch' nuclear factor-kappa B," said lead researcher Dr. Ronald Watson from the University of Arizona.

The study was conducted at the rheumatology department of Mashhad Medical University, Iran. Thirty-five volunteers (average age 42) were randomly assigned a daily dose of Pycnogenol(R) (50mg, 3 times a day) or placebo for three months. Patients were to report arthritic pain using the Western Ontario and McMasters Universities (WOMAC) Osteoarthritis Index after 30, 60 and 90 days. Participants also were instructed to indicate the frequency and dosage of NSAIDS and COX-2 inhibitor usage.

After two months of supplementation, physical function and pain scores improved in the Pycnogenol(R) group. After three months in the Pycnogenol(R) group, there was a reduction of 43 percent in pain, 35 percent in stiffness, 52 percent in physical function subscales and 49 percent composite WOMAC. The placebo group showed no significant scores throughout the entire study. Additionally, further reduction in the number of NSAIDS and COX-2 inhibitor pills and number of days taking medication was noted in the Pycnogenol(R) group.

A previous study on Pycnogenol(R) published in the Journal of Inflammation demonstrated that the ingredient effectively prevented inflammation disorders in patients by moderating the immune system response. While the wear and tear is responsible for the initial degeneration of cartilage, the more advanced stage of osteoarthritis involves inflammation. The cells of the cartilage (chondrocytes) respond to mechanical impact by generating pro-inflammatory molecules (cytokines). This process is initiated by the pro-inflammatory "master-switch" called NF-kappaB. Pycnogenol(R) was shown to lower the sensitivity for NF-kappaB in humans last year.

The cytokines released from chondrocytes recruits immune cells (leukocytes) to the joints where they cause more harm than good. Leukocytes release harmful substances such as free radicals and enzymes that break down connective tissue and speed up the degeneration of cartilage. These processes alike are under control by NF-kappaB, and the effect of Pycnogenol(R) to suppress NF-kappaB will help to limit the damage caused by leukocytes.

Researchers believe this study is the first randomized clinical trial to show Pycnogenol's(R) effectiveness in alleviating the clinical symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. There are several more breakthrough studies on Pycnogenol(R) and osteoarthritis expected to be published next year allowing for development of innovative, natural formulas for joint health.

About Pycnogenol(R)
Pycnogenol(R) is a natural plant extract originating from the bark of the maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France and is found to contain a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids, which offer extensive natural health benefits. The extract has been widely studied for the past 35 years and has more than 220 published studies and review articles ensuring safety and efficacy as an ingredient. Today, Pycnogenol(R) is available in more than 600 dietary supplements, multi-vitamins and health products worldwide. For more information, visit

Natural Health Science Inc. (NHS), based in Hoboken, New Jersey, is the North American distributor for Pycnogenol(R) (pic-noj-en-all) brand French maritime pine bark extract on behalf of Horphag Research. Pycnogenol(R) is a registered trademark of Horphag Research Ltd., Guernsey, and its applications are protected by U.S. patents #5,720,956 / #6,372,266 and other international patents. NHS has the exclusive rights to market and sell Pycnogenol(R) in North America and benefits from more than 35 years of scientific research assuring the safety and efficacy of Pycnogenol(R) as a dietary supplement. For more information about Pycnogenol(R) visit our Web site at

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