Did you know that Pine Bark Extract has anti-inflammatory properties? Studies have shown that it can be beneficial for people with autoimmune conditions, such as arthritis. In this post, we will discuss the benefits of Pine Bark Extract for inflammation and autoimmune conditions.
What is Pine Bark Extract?
The inner bark of the Pinus pinaster tree, which is most typically found in Europe, is used to make pine bark extract. The maritime pine, also known as the pinus maritime, is a well-known species found in the southwest coast of France and it is this particular kind of pine bark extract that you may have seen for sale on the internet..
The extract contains disease fighting compounds called proanthocyanidins, which are inflammation calming antioxidants. Pine bark extract is also a rich source of vitamin C, which can help boost the immune system.
What about other pine bark sources?
In recent times we have seen pine bark extracts emerging from China and other countries. Whilst these are growing in popularity, often due to their lower price, maritime pine bark from the pinus maritime is still considered to be the original and best when it comes to pine bark extracts.
How was pine bark discovered?
Knowledge of the beneficial nature of pine bark extract has been around for about 450 years or so in the west. The famous French explorer Jacques Cartier’s ran into trouble near Quebec in 1534 and as a result lost his ship. His crew went on to develop scurvy and became gravely ill through the resulting vitamin C deficiency. A member of Cartier’s team met a Quebec Indian who suggested they treat the condition with pine bark, and a tea made from the needles of the pine tree. The results of the medical application of pine bark were as amazing as the miraculous tales which made it all the way back home to France.
The effectiveness and mechanisms of this natural treatment started to be uncovered 400 years later by Jacques Masquelier, a French researcher. His research found that pine bark has incredible antioxidant properties and can help to enhance the absorption of vitamin C, a fact Masquelier found fascinating.
Further studies revealed that the flavonols and bioflavonoids found in pine bark have the potential to aid in tissue repair.
How Does Pine Bark Extract Help Fight Inflammation?
The proanthocyanidins in pine bark extract help to reduce inflammation by blocking the production of inflammatory compounds called cytokines. The antioxidants in pine bark extract also protect cells from damage caused by inflammation.
How Pine Bark Extract Helps Fight Autoimmune Conditions?
One of the most common symptoms of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, and as we are all painfully aware, inflammation can cause joint pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints. Pine bark extract helps to reduce inflammation, which can help to relieve some of the symptoms.
Pine bark extract’s antioxidants can also help to protect cells from damage caused by inflammation. This can help to prevent further damage to cells and tissues, by reducing the bystander activation response from the immune cells.
Pine bark extract and its ability to Improve immune function
Pine Bark Extract has also been shown to improve immune function, which may help to fight off the underlying cause of autoimmune conditions.
In a study published in the April 2006 issue of the Journal of Inflammation, researchers discovered that the pine bark extract Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all) has the ability to effectively prevent inflammatory conditions by moderating the immune response.
In a group of seven healthy volunteers, a clinical trial conducted at the University of Würzburg in Germany found that a 200 mg oral intake of Pycnogenol reduced the activity of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-B), the immune cell “trigger” for inflammation.
Blood samples were obtained before the trial began and again after five days of Pycnogenol intake.
When blood plasma was collected following Pycnogenol supplementation, key immune cells known as monocytes showed a 15% reduction in the NF-B response compared to when the pine bark extract was not supplemented.
What did the researchers say?
“The processes leading to inflammation are triggered by a main switch in immune cells also called nuclear factor-kappa B,” said one of the studies authors, Dr. Högger.”
“This study demonstrates, for the first time in patients’ blood samples, Pycnogenol’s ability to inhibit NF-ĸB and the pro-inflammatory molecules under its control, therefore helping to prevent harmful inflammation from damaging tissue.”
When talking about monocytes they went on to say
“This clinical trial investigated the release of enzymes from monocytes responsible for the connective damage by other enzymes also known as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The lowering of NF-κB was found to consequently lower the amount of MMPs secreted by 25 percent after Pycnogenol supplementation in healthy volunteers.”
We’re all aware of the health benefits of antioxidants, and the fact that we should consume diets high in antioxidants if we want to protect against free radical damage. But, like pine oil in the tea’s I have talked about recently, did you know that pine bark extract is one of nature’s super antioxidants?
The presence of oligomeric proanthocyanidin compounds, or OPCs for short, are what make pine bark extract so potent and give it its super antioxidant powers. Grapeseed oil, peanut skin, and witch hazel bark all contain the same chemical compound. But what is it about this wonder element that makes it so extraordinary?
While the antioxidant-producing benefits of OPCs are well documented, these remarkable chemicals also have antibacterial, antiviral, anti-carcinogenic, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and anti-allergic capabilities.
This is one of the reasons pine bark has been touted as a “cure all” on the internet. You could say it is with good reason because Pine bark extract has been shown to help improve circulation, lower high blood pressure, soothe osteoarthritis, fight diabetes, ameliorate ADHD, help with female reproductive difficulties, improve skin condition, ease erectile dysfunction, help in eye disease, increase sports stamina, reduce muscle soreness and much more.
The OPCs in this extract may also “inhibit lipid peroxidation, platelet aggregation, capillary permeability and fragility, and have a beneficial impact on our enzyme systems,” which implies it could be a natural cure for a variety of major health disorders like stroke and heart disease.
What is Pycnogenol?
Pycnogenol is the registered trademark name for a French formula derived from the bark of the maritime pine and has been found to contain a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids, and phenolic acids, all of which have been shown to provide numerous natural health benefits.
The extract has been extensively researched over the last 40 years, with over 340 published studies and review articles confirming its safety and efficacy as a food additive. Pycnogenol is now found in a huge range of dietary supplements, multivitamins, and wellness products around the world.
As I stated above, not all pine bark extracts are created equally! There are now many pine bark extracts available that do not come from the French Maritime pines. Only Pycnogenol can make this claim. That said, it certainly doesn’t mean that other pine extract are any less valuable. After all, the original pine bark used to heal Cartier and his crew came from Canada.
Pycnogenol and arthritis
Pycnogenol has been extensively studied for its effects on arthritis and autoimmune conditions.
Many of these studies find patients who supplemented with Pycnogenol reported significantly reduced pain, less stiffness and increased physical function.
One study titled “Pycnogenol supplementation reduces pain and stiffness and improves physical function in adults with knee osteoarthritis” concluded the following.
“The dosage and frequency of NSAIDs or COX-2 inhibitors usage were increased in placebo group, which were significantly less in Pycnogenol group.
The results of this study indicate the efficacy of Pycnogenol in alleviating osteoarthritis symptoms and reducing the need for NSAIDs or COX-2 inhibitors administration.
This beneficial effect of Pycnogenol might be due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.“
In the study above, we can clearly see that supplementation with Pycnogenol can help to lower the use of NSAIDs and reduce disease symptoms in osteoarthritis. When we combine these findings with the findings on inflammation it isn’t hard to see why so many people with inflammatory arthritis claim to get benefits from pine bark and Pycnogenol.
More pine bark benefits
- Reduces Inflammation
- Helps Increase Athletic Performance
- Pine Bark Inhibits Clotting Better than Aspirin
- Pine Bark Extract may reduce Pain
- Lowers Glucose Levels, Improving Diabetic Symptoms
- Helps Prevent Hearing Loss and Balance
- Protects the Skin from Ultraviolet Exposure
- Decreases Erectile Dysfunction
- Helps prevent Infections
Because pine bark extract contains a high concentration of strong antioxidants, it has a variety of beneficial health effects. Pine bark extract may be beneficial for a variety of conditions, ranging from diabetes and sexual function to sports performance and keeping your skin looking beautiful.
Consider discussing pine bark extract with your doctor or a functional medicine specialist to see if it is appropriate for you to use.
It is possible that you will want to start slowly, with smaller doses, to ensure that your body responds effectively to the OPCs in pine bark extract. If you are certain that you are not experiencing any undesirable side effects, you may be able to raise your dosage in accordance with the label.