An antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree has been found effective in reducing inflammation, and soothing pain associated with various health problems, claim researchers.
According to lead researcher Dr. Raffaella Canali of the National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition in Rome, Italy, pycnogenol can actually decrease pain and reduce inflammatory conditions by shutting down the production of enzymes COX-2 and 5-LOX involved with inflammation.
During the study, the researchers investigated healthy volunteers ranging from ages 35-50, who consumed Pycnogenol tablets (150 mg) for five consecutive days in the morning before breakfast.
Blood was drawn before and after supplementation to investigate how immune cells respond towards pro-inflammatory stimuli.
The behaviour of specific white blood cells (leukocytes) for generating a repertoire of enzymes in inflammatory condition was tested by real-time PCR.
The gene expression of enzymes COX-2, 5-LOX, FLAP and COX-1 were monitored and the products these enzymes generate, prostaglandins and leukotrienes, were quantified.
The researchers found that the volunteers' immune cells rapidly initiated production of COX-2, 5-LOX and FLAP enzymes upon pro-inflammatory stimulation.
Taking Pycnogenol almost entirely subdued COX-2, 5-LOX and FLAP induction in the immune cells of volunteers.
"Standard NSAID medications reduce the production of prostaglandins by COX enzymes for lowering the pain," said Dr. Canali.
"In contrast, Pycnogenol turns to the root of the problem, completely stopping the production of COX-2 in inflammation. Thus far, Pycnogenol seems to be a unique tool for modulating inflammatory processes," Canali added.
The study is published in International Immunopharmacology.