The University Hospital of Zurich was the home of some ground-breaking research recently, the results of which are to be published in the European Heart Journal, having already made an appearance online1.
Results of the research show that pine bark extract seems to work well, in conjunction with other treatments, to combat Coronary Artery Disease (CAD). The scientists can monitor the flow of blood along arteries and blood vessels, looking for signs of healthy blood flow.
They use a process called flow-mediated dilation (FMD) to observe the integrity of the blood vessels and measure the pressure the vessel walls are subjected to. Amongst the results garnered, those subjects who were given pine bark extract generally had better blood flow, leading to healthier circulation.
There is no way that the results could be driven by anything other than purely scientific results as the study was a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled crossover one, in which neither patient nor scientist knew who was in the placebo group and who was receiving the pine bark extract. The groups remained static for eight weeks, with one group receiving the drug and others receiving the placebo.
Then there was a two week hiatus during which no subject received any treatment, and then the two groups were switched so the original placebo group were then receiving the pine bark extract for another eight weeks. During the entire course of the study any CAD patients continued to take their regular medications such as statins, blood thinners and antihypertensive drugs.
The effects of pine bark extract were clear and conclusive with arterial enlargement standing at 32 per cent following the eight weeks on the drug. The group receiving the placebo received no such benefit. More positive results were seen with a lowering in the incidence of plasma 8 isoprostane markers of oxidative stress and FMD values increased from an average of 5.3 to 7.
The leader of the study, Dr. Frank Enseleit, is convinced of the positive benefits of pine bark extract, seeing a clear and marked improvement that can only be due to the ingestion of pine bark extract.
In short, Mediterranean pine bark extract may significantly improve heart health for patients with CAD. However, because this condition is so very serious, it is always advised that a doctor is consulted before adding any supplement to the diet.
- “Resource Reference: Enseleit, F., et al. “Effects of Pycnogenol on endothelial function in patients with stable coronary artery disease: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study,” European Heart Journal, published Epub ahead of print” ↩