Pycnogenol: Sex, Tinnitus, Alzheimer's and Heart Attacks

May 12, 2014

Pycnogenol: Long Overdue Claim to Fame 

 Reference: Enseleit European Heart Journal Stuard Panminerva Med 

 French maritime pine bark. That’s it! Pine bark. Who would have thought it had medicinal value? Well, the Europeans have been interested in it for over 30 years and have over 300 publications about it. In America, we seem to put our trust in chemicals we invent. Bark is a source of other medicinal foods. Another interesting example would be willow bark – the source of aspirin, one of our most effective heart attack preventing medications. 

 What’s so hot about pycnogenol? It seems to be a critical heart disease medication. Bill Davis, of Wheat Belly fame, loved pycnogenol as part of his heart disease reversing therapy. It appears that there are a host of means by which pycnogenol works. Stuard combined pycnogenol with an ace inhibitor in folks with metabolic syndrome and kidney damage (protein in their urine).   After just 6 months, the pycnogenol group (that also had the ACE) had a 25.3% decrease in CRP, a 6% weight loss, a 53% decrease in urinary protein. 

In another study, Belcaro took folks with metabolic syndrome and gave them 150 mg a day of pycnogenol and was able to show better triglycerides, better blood pressure, 14% less glucose, 3 inches off waist sizes and plasma free radicals down some 35%.   Now, add those two studies to Enseleit’s research in which folks who had had a heart attack were given pycnogenol and had their “endothelial function” measured (how stretchy and elastic their blood vessels are).   With just 8 weeks of therapy there was a 32% improvement. The improvements seen in Enseleit’s study speak to making blood vessels healthier. Hmmm!   

Can we see effects in other circumstances where blood vessels may not be so good? For example, something as intractably irascible as tinnitus, ringing in the ears. It’s thought to come from lower blood flow in a considerable number of folks. If you improve blood flow to the inner ear, what happens? Grossi et al showed that you can help tinnitus in as little as a month.   Sexual function also depends on good blood flow. In a Japanese study, men were helped in mild to moderate erectile dysfunction.   But wait, there is research to support huge benefit in women too when the pycnogenol is combined with L-arginine! That makes sense because the sexual response is mitigated by healthy blood vessels, and L-arginine is the amino acid your body makes Nitric Oxide from. 

Pycnogenol then seems to be the party that sweeps in and cleans up the inflammation in the blood vessels that is at the root of the problem. There are other illnesses that are strongly associated with lousy blood flow and subsequent organ dysfunction.  Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s both have extensive research showing benefits. 

 WWW. What will work for me?   We really should be decreasing our damage to our blood vessels by eating tons of vegetables, avoiding sugar and trans fats, exercising and sleeping well. Oh well. For those of us who aren’t perfect angels or who are already in deep, a trial of the stuff might be just what the doctor ordered. Simple measures of success could easily be achieved by monitoring CRP before and after. Or, there are your own personal measures of success. For those with tinnitus, does that ring a bell?   

 Pop Quiz 

 1.   Pycnogenol is an extract of Polish Pine Bark?   T or F                   Answer: False. Give the French their due. 

 2. Its core effect appears to be decreasing oxidative stress, which subsequently leads to many other problems, particularly with blood vessel health.   T or F                       Answer: T.  That’s it in a nutshell. 

 3.   It could be used as a weight-loss drug as it helps lower inflammation and waistlines in many folks. T or F                       Answer: T 

 4. Ringing in the ears has had few useful treatments to date, and this breaks open a therapy for millions of sufferers. T or F                       Answer:   T.   Wonderful! 

 5.   Oxidative stress, caused by lousy lifestyle choices (like too much sugar and white flour foods) is at the root of many of our modern scourges like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.   T or F Answer:   True 

 6.   There is ample proof that pycnogenol will reverse Alzheimer's? T or F                     Answer:  False. These are all pilot studies of small size. Reversing may be a stretch. But preventing may not be. 

 7.   If you are worried about developing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, this might be a good choice to start on?   T or F                        Answer:   True