Osteoarthritis of the knee (OA) is one of the five leading causes of disability among the elderly. It mainly affects most people over 45 years of age, however it can occur at any age. 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.
The study, led by Dr. Ronald Watson from the University of Arizona, has found that Pycnogenol offers a safe nutritional approach to significantly reduce pain and improve physical function of arthritic joints. Pycnogenol is found to contain a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids, which offer extensive natural health benefits.
For the finding, a double blind, placebo-controlled study was conducted. 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 i.e. tiny growths of new bone.
"Pycnogenol 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 Watson. "Pycnogenol offers a safe nutritional approach to significantly reduce pain and improve physical function of arthritic joints. It controls inflammation and thus ideally complements existing strategies that comprise delivery of 'building blocks' for replacement of degenerated cartilage," he said.
In the study, 35 five volunteers with the average age of 42 years were randomly assigned a daily dose of Pycnogenol, i.e. 50mg, 3 times a day or placebo for three months. Patients were asked 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.
The analysis after two months of supplementation found that physical function and pain scores improved in the Pycnogenol group. After three months in the Pycnogenol 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 group. "Pycnogenol's natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties were responsible for delivering these excellent results," said Watson.
"This study shows that supplementing with Pycnogenol® can fight joint inflammation and soothe the pain and stiffness, thus pave the path for cartilage renewal with substances such as glucosamine," he added.
The study is published in the journal Nutrition Research.