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Reduce Osteoarthritis, Joint Pain, and Improves Physical Function with Pine Bark E-mail
Written by Jeff Behar, MS, MBA   

A new study published in the April 2008 edition (Volume 22, issue No 4) of the journal of Phytotherapy Research shows Pycnogenol (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, was shown to reduce all osteoarthritis symptoms by 56 percent. The study revealed a particularly high efficacy of Pycnogenol for lowering joint pain by 55 percent. Moreover, patients required dramatically less standard pain medication (-58 percent), which greatly improved the gastrointestinal complications resulting from the pain medication by 63 percent.

Past Study Regarding Pycnogenol and Osteoarthritis (OA)

A previous study carried out at the University of Arizona Tucson (published in Nutrition Research) discovered that Pycnogenol was an affective natural healing approach for osteoarthritis, improving pain and joint function. The study found that after three months, the Pycnogenol group had:

  • a reduction of 43 percent in pain,
  • 35 percent in stiffness,
  • 52 percent in physical function subscales.

The placebo group showed no significant scores throughout the entire study.

Current Study Regarding Pycnogenol and Osteoarthritis (OA)

 

The randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, held at Italy's Chieti-Pescara University, sampled 156 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee (OA). Patients were administered 100 mg Pycnogenol or placebo, daily for three months. Symptoms were evaluated by WOMAC index scores and mobility by recording their walking performance on a treadmill. Patients were permitted to continue taking their choice of pain medication provided they recorded every tablet in a diary for later evaluation.

To describe and rate osteoarthritis symptoms (joint pain, stiffness and physical function), WOMAC questionnaires were evaluated by the investigator and patient at the start and after three months of treatment. Patients were trained on a treadmill test and performance evaluation was recorded on total distance that could be covered without pain. Measuring foot volume by the water-displacement method was used to evaluate ankle/foot edema in a randomly selected subgroup of subjects within the two treatment groups.

After three months, scores for pain dropped significantly for the Pycnogenol treatment group and no significant effects were recorded for the placebo group. Scores for stiffness were reduced by 53 percent. The scores for physical function were reduced by 57 percent in the Pycnogenol group and improvement under placebo was not significant. The global WOMAC score decreased following Pycnogenol treatment and very little in the placebo group, from 56 percent vs. 9.6 percent for Pycnogenol and placebo, respectively. Overall well-being of patients (emotional function) was significantly enhanced with the Pycnogenol group, by 64 percent and 15 percent for the placebo group.

Results of exercise tests on the treadmill demonstrated an increased performance after three months of Pycnogenol treatment. At the start of the study, patients could only walk a mean of 74 yards without feeling pain and after three months, they could walk 216 yards, compared to the placebo group that noted 71 yards at the beginning of the study and 96 yards at the end.

In addition to the osteoarthritis results, 76 percent of the patients in the Pycnogenol group and 79 percent in the placebo group showed visible ankle and foot edema at inclusion of the study. After the three months, edema decreased in 79 percent of the Pycnogenol patients and only one percent in placebo-treated patients.

Patients were allowed to use their regular dosage of NSAIDS. Usage dropped by 58 percent during treatment with Pycnogenol and one percent with the placebo. Evaluation of data demonstrated a decrease of gastrointestinal complications of 64 percent in the Pycnogenol group versus three percent in placebo.

Conclusion

According to the research team :

  • The results of this study are significant as they clearly demonstrate the clinical action of Pycnogenol on osteoarthritis and management of symptoms
  • The use of Pycnogenol many reduce costs and side effects of anti-inflammatory agents and offer a natural alternative solution to people suffering from osteoarthritis.
  • The benefits of Pycnogenol for arthritic joints are suggested to result predominantly from the anti-inflammatory potency of Pycnogenol which was demonstrated in a series of clinical investigations in the past.

 

Future Osteoarthritis Research

There are more breakthrough studies on Pycnogenol and osteoarthritis expected to be published next year allowing for development of innovative, natural formulas for joint health.

About Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis also known as degenerative arthritis, degenerative joint disease), is a condition in which low-grade inflammation results in pain in the joints, caused by abnormal wearing of the cartilage that covers and acts as a cushion inside joints and destruction or decrease of synovial fluid that lubricates those joints. As the bone surfaces become less well protected by cartilage,  pain is experienced upon weight bearing, including walking and standing. Due to decreased movement because of the pain, regional muscles may atrophy, and  ligaments may become more lax.

"Osteoarthritis" is derived from the Greek word "osteo", meaning "of the bone", "arthro", meaning "joint", and "itis", meaning inflammation, although many sufferers have little or no inflammation.

A common misconception is that osteoarthritis is due solely to wear and tear, due to the fact that osteoarthritis typically is not present in younger people. However, while age is correlated with osteoarthritis incidence, this merely illustrates that osteoarthritis is a process that takes time to develop. There is usually an underlying cause for osteoarthritis, in which case it is described as secondary osteoarthritis. If no underlying cause can be identified it is described as primary osteoarthritis. "Degenerative arthritis", often used as a synonym for osteoarthritis, but the latter involves both degenerative and regenerative changes.

Osteoarthritis Statistics

Osteoarthritis affects nearly 21 million people in the United States, accounting for 25% of visits to primary care physicians, and half of all NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) prescriptions.

More than 10 million Americans have a total joint replacement each year.

It is estimated that 80% of the population will have radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis by age 65, although only 60% of those will be symptomatic.

 
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