According to a new study, Pycnogenol - an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree -naturally reduces osteoarthritis symptoms by 56 percent.
Pycnogenol 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 study, led by Dr. Gianni Belcaro, revealed a particularly high efficacy of Pycnogenol for lowering joint pain by 55 percent.
Moreover, patients required dramatically less standard pain medication, which greatly improved the gastrointestinal complications resulting from the pain medication by 63 percent.
"Pycnogenol seemed a natural fit for this study. There are a few main components contributing to the clinical picture of treatment management in osteoarthritis: inflammation causing a progression in the disease, alteration of fatigue resistance and muscular performance-reversing and blocking the vascular problems associated to altered mobility. Theoretically, a treatment with a compound specifically active on all those aspects could be highly effective, which is why we chose Pycnogenol," said Belcaro.
The randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study, held at Italy's Chieti-Pescara University, sampled 156 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee (OA).
Patients were administered 100 mg Pycnogenol or placebo, daily for three months. Symptoms were evaluated by WOMAC index scores and mobility by recording their walking performance on a treadmill.
Patients were permitted to continue taking their choice of pain medication provided they recorded every tablet in a diary for later evaluation.
To describe and rate osteoarthritis symptoms (joint pain, stiffness and physical function), WOMAC questionnaires were evaluated by the investigator and patient at the start and after three months of treatment.
Patients were trained on a treadmill test and performance evaluation was recorded on total distance that could be covered without pain. Measuring foot volume by the water-displacement method was used to evaluate ankle/foot edema in a randomly selected subgroup of subjects within the two treatment groups.
After three months, scores for pain dropped significantly for the Pycnogenol treatment group and no significant effects were recorded for the placebo group. Scores for stiffness were reduced by 53 percent.
The scores for physical function were reduced by 57 percent in the Pycnogenol group and improvement under placebo was not significant. The global WOMAC score decreased following Pycnogenol treatment and very little in the placebo group, from 56 percent vs. 9.6 percent for Pycnogenol and placebo, respectively. Overall well-being of patients (emotional function) was significantly enhanced with the Pycnogenol group, by 64 percent and 15 percent for the placebo group.
Results of exercise tests on the treadmill demonstrated an increased performance after three months of Pycnogenol treatment. At the start of the study, patients could only walk a mean of 74 yards without feeling pain and after three months, they could walk 216 yards, compared to the placebo group that noted 71 yards at the beginning of the study and 96 yards at the end.
"The results of this study are significant as they clearly demonstrate the clinical action of Pycnogenol on OA and management of symptoms. The use of Pycnogenol many reduce costs and side effects of anti-inflammatory agents and offer a natural alternative solution to people suffering from OA" said Dr. Belcaro.
The study is published in the journal of Phytotherapy Research.