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Study demonstrates the anti-inflammatory properties of pine bark extract

Pycnogenol found to inhibit pain and inflammation causing enzymes

A recent study published in International Immunopharmacology, reveals why Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, is effective for reducing inflammation and soothing pain associated with various health problems.

Dr. Raffaella Canali of the National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition in Rome, Italy, found that Pycnogenol® inhibits the generation of COX-2 and 5-LOX, two naturally occurring enzymes associated with a host of inflammatory conditions.

"This study reveals that Pycnogenol can actually decrease pain and reduce inflammatory conditions, as has been previously reported, by shutting down the production of specific enzymes involved with inflammation," said Dr. Canali.

Inflammation is a tightly controlled, concerted action of immune cells fighting infections, irritations and injuries. When inflammation goes out of control it may target the body's own tissue such as in arthritis or asthma. The worst known cases are the auto-immune diseases.

The study investigated healthy volunteers ranging from ages 35-50, who consumed Pycnogenol® tablets (150 mg) for five consecutive days in the morning before breakfast. Blood was drawn before and after supplementation to investigate how immune cells respond towards pro-inflammatory stimuli. The behavior of specific white blood cells (leukocytes) for generating a repertoire of enzymes in inflammatory condition was tested by real-time PCR. The gene expression of enzymes COX-2, 5-LOX, FLAP and COX-1 were monitored and the products these enzymes generate, prostaglandins and leukotrienes, were quantified.

A baseline study revealed that the volunteers' immune cells rapidly initiated production of COX-2, 5-LOX and FLAP enzymes upon pro-inflammatory stimulation. Taking Pycnogenol® almost entirely subdued COX-2, 5-LOX and FLAP induction in the immune cells of volunteers. Control studies showed that Pycnogenol® did not have an effect on generation of the COX-1 enzyme, thus the potential for typical NSAID side effects is defied. While Pycnogenol® is not a COX-2-specific inhibitor; it blocks the COX-2 enzyme production during inflammation only. There are COX-2 enzymes not involved in inflammation in other organs such as the kidneys, where it has important physiologic functions.

"Standard NSAID medications reduce the production of prostaglandins by COX enzymes for lowering the pain," explains Dr. Canali. "In contrast, Pycnogenol® turns to the root of the problem, completely stopping the production of COX-2 in inflammation. Thus far, Pycnogenol® seems to be a unique tool for modulating inflammatory processes."

These pharmacologic findings are consistent with past clinical trials of Pycnogenol® that showed significantly lowered leukotriene levels in asthmatic patients, a condition originating from 5-LOX. Three recent clinical trials also showed pain relief and a reduced need for pain medication in arthritis patients after taking Pycnogenol®, results that are linked to COX-2 inhibition. One arthritis study showed a significant reduction of inflammatory marker C-reactive protein. Pycnogenol® has been shown to inhibit inflammation in several dysmenorrhoea studies and also a reduction in skin inflammation related to sunburn and acne.

About Pycnogenol®

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 extract has been widely studied for the past 40 years and has more than 220 published studies and review articles ensuring safety and efficacy as an ingredient. Today, Pycnogenol® is available in more than 700 dietary supplements, multi-vitamins and health products worldwide. For more information, visit

Natural Health Science Inc. (NHS), based in Hoboken, New Jersey, is the North American distributor for Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all) brand French maritime pine bark extract on behalf of Horphag Research. Pycnogenol® is a registered trademark of Horphag Research Ltd., Guernsey, and its applications are protected by U.S. patents #5,720,956 / #6,372,266 and other international patents. Horphag Research Ltd. is the recipient of the 2008 Frost & Sullivan North American Health Ingredients Excellence in Research Award. NHS has the exclusive rights to market and sell Pycnogenol® in North America and benefits from more than 40 years of scientific research assuring the safety and efficacy of Pycnogenol® as a dietary supplement. For more information about Pycnogenol® visit our Web site at

Megan Armand | EurekAlert!
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