Pycnogenol is well-known for its antioxidant benefits, its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to inhibit enzymes that would otherwise lead to allergic reactions and the breakdown of proteins in connective tissue of joints, skin, tendons and ligaments. New research suggests Pycnogenol also has benefit in reducing painful menstruation and reducing blood pressure in diabetics.
In one recent study, researchers used 60 mg/d of Pycnogenol or placebo to treat 116 women, including those with dysmenorrhea (i.e., painful menstruation) and those with low menstrual pain (J Reprod Med. 2008;53:338-346). The women served as their own control group over the course of two menstrual cycles. Those women with low menstrual pain derived no benefit from Pycnogenol; however, those with dysmenorrhea experienced a significant benefit. They were able to reduce their intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and had a reduction in the number of painful days from 2.1 days to 1.3 days. In addition, even when supplementation stopped, the pain did not return immediately.
In the area of diabetic health, another research team measured blood pressure in type-2 diabetic subjects given 125 mg/d of Pycnogenol or placebo for 12 weeks (Nutr Res. 2008;28(5):315-320). All subjects in the study were receiving anti-hypertension (blood pressure reducing) drugs known as angiotensin- converting enzyme [ACE] inhibitors. At the end of the intervention, 58.3 percent of subjects in the Pycnogenol group experienced blood pressure control (stable systolic reading) compared to 20.8 percent in the placebo group. In addition, use of ACE inhibitors was reduced by 50 percent in the group receiving Pycnogenol. Likewise, improvements in measures of diabetes control were also noted, with a fasting blood glucose reduction of 23.7 mg/dL in the Pycnogenol group, compared to only 5.7 mg/dL in the placebo group. Furthermore, a decrease of 11.6 mg/dL low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol was achieved in the Pycnogenol group, compared with placebo.
Gene Bruno is the Dean of Academics and is on the faculty of Huntington College of Health Sciences (HCHS), an accredited distance learning institutions offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in nutrition, as well as diploma programs in nutrition and dietary supplement science. HCHS.edu, (800) 290-4226.