Pycnogenol Not Related to Negative Pink Bark, Heart-Health Study

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A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine last week found that "pine bark extract" does not influence human risk of heart disease. But which pine bark extract was it referring to?

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine last week, which found that “pine bark extract” does not influence human risk of heart disease, is creating a lot of noise.

In the randomized study on 130 individuals at risk of heart disease, Stanford University researchers assigned subjects to placebo or 200 mg of Toyo-FVG, a pine bark extract supplied by Toyo Bio-Pharma (Los Angeles).

Blood pressure and other heart-health biomarkers were measured at 6 and 12 weeks, and no statistically significant differences in these markers were observed.

What’s more is that media reports have associated the results of the Toyo-FVG study with Pycnogenol brand French maritime pine bark-an association that appears unwarranted.

In an interview with Nutritional Outlook, Horphag Research (Geneva), the world’s exclusive supplier of Pycnogenol, contended that Toyo-FVG is, in fact, quite different in composition.

“Toyo pine bark is not manufactured according to specifications of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) for maritime pine extract,” said Frank Schonlau, PhD, director of scientific communications at Horphag Research, noting that its antioxidant content (by way of procyanidins) is not the same. “USP requires a standardization to 70% of procyanidins, but Toyo pine bark only bears 40% procyanidins.”

Schonlau also noted that key components of Pycnogenol are “completely absent” in Toyo-FVG. “Taxifolin is a major monomeric compound very typical for French maritime pine bark extract,” said Schonlau. “Its complete absence in Toyo’s pine bark raises questions on the origin.”

In defending the credibility of Pycnogenol, Horphag Research points to more than two dozen clinical trials in which the ingredient was shown to support heart health. In one six-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 155 Taiwanese perimenopausal women were given 200 mg of Pycnogenol or placebo. The treatment “showed statistically significant reductions of diastolic and systolic blood pressure,” said Schonlau. 

“Horphag Research welcomes this study as it clearly shows that other pine bark extracts cannot relate to the extensive scientific portfolio of Pycnogenol, and that, in this particular case, they don’t work,” said Victor Ferrari, Horphag Research CEO.