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The pine bark extract reduced the need for emergency inhalers in a six-month trial.
A quick look at the official website for Pycnogenol suggests that a wide array of potential health benefits are possible with the French maritime pine bark extract. Most recently, the ingredient was investigated for asthma relief in the journal Panminerva Medica.
Researchers from the University of Pescara recruited 76 adults suffering from asthma related to dust mite allergy. For six months, half of the subjects were assigned to a daily dose of 100 mg of Pycnogenol (to be taken every morning and evening in 50 mg doses). All subjects were allowed to use emergency asthma inhalers containing inhalation corticosteroid (ICS) as needed.
Over the course of the entire study, Pycnogenol users required less use of their inhalers. While only 6% of control subjects were able to switch from a baseline high dose of ICS to a low dose, 55% of Pycnogenol users were able to make the transition. None of the Pycnogenol users needed to move into a higher ICS dose, whereas 18.8% of control subjects did.
Pycnogenol supplementation was also associated with significantly reduced night awakenings.
Pycnogenol developer Horphag Research (Hoboken, NJ) says this marks the third published human clinical on Pycnogenol and asthma. The previous two studies-one on children and one on adults-measured forced expiration volume (the lung volume that an individual can exhale within one second) and leukotrienes, pro-inflammatory compounds which influence constriction of the lung airways. In as little as four weeks, Pycnogenol users were able to exhale significantly more air, and their leukotriene levels dropped, too.
In a recent interview with Nutritional Outlook, Horphag scientific director Frank Schönlau discussed the significance of leukotriene reduction and a potential for combination therapy with Pycnogenol and omega-3 fatty acids.
“The equilibrium between omega-3s and omega-6s plays into the extent of production of leukotrienes and prostaglandins, both of which play inflammatory roles in the body,” said Schönlau. “Leukotrienes play a role in the lungs, and prostaglandins create pain sensation in, for example, the knees or other organs. It has always been my dream for us to do a study with both Pycnogenol and omega-3 fatty acids. If you have more omega-3s than omega-6s, the inflammatory cells can produce less of the prostaglandins and leukotrienes and, therefore, less inflammation and pain-and with Pycnogenol, cells will be less inflammatory in the first place.”