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May 2013

Pycnogenol® May Improve Metabolic Syndrome Symptoms

Supplementation with the pine bark extract, Pycnogenol®, may improve health risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome.

Pycnogenol® is the registered trade name for a patented water extract of the bark of the French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster ssp. atlantica), which grows in coastal southwestern France. Pycnogenol® contains oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs) as well as several other bioflavonoids: catechin, epicatechin, phenolic fruit acids (such as ferulic acid and caffeic acid), and taxifolin. Procyanidins are oligometric catechins found at high concentrations in red wine, grapes, cocoa, cranberries, apples and some supplements.

In a recent study, researchers evaluated the effects of Pycnogenol® supplementation on individuals with metabolic syndrome. A total of 64 participants were assigned to 150 milligrams Pycnogenol® daily for six months. An additional group of 66 individuals were followed as controls.

The researchers found that six-month Pycnogenol® supplementation resulted in decreased triglyceride levels and blood pressure, and increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL or "good cholesterol"). Furthermore, in men, waist circumference decreased from an average of 106.2 centimeters to 98.3 centimeters after six months. In women, waist circumference decreased from 90.9 to 83.6 centimeters after six months. The authors noted that the decrease in waist circumference in both men and women was significant when compared to the control group.

The authors concluded that Pycnogenol® supplementation may reduce health risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. Further research is warranted.

There has been some confusion in the U.S. market regarding OPC products containing Pycnogenol® or grape seed extract (GSE), as one of the generic terms for chemical constituents ("pycnogenols") is the same as the patented trade name (Pycnogenol®). Some GSE products have been formerly erroneously labeled and marketed in the U.S. as containing "pycnogenols." Although GSE and Pycnogenol® do contain similar chemical constituents (primarily in the OPC fraction), the chemical, pharmacological, and clinical literature on the two products are distinct. The term Pycnogenol® should therefore only be used to refer to the specific, proprietary French maritime pine bark extract.

For more information about Pycnogenol®, please visit Natural Standard's Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.

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  1. Belcaro G, Cornelli U, Luzzi R, et al. Pycnogenol® Supplementation Improves Health Risk Factors in Subjects with Metabolic Syndrome. Phytother Res. 2013 Jan 28. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4883. 
  2. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. 

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