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Anti-Inflammatory Benefits of Pine Bark Revealed

A study published in the June 2009 issue of the journal International Immunopharmacology may have uncovered the mechanisms behind the pain reducing and anti-inflammatory properties of Pycnogenol.

Pycnogenol is an extract made from the bark of the French maritime pine. It is packed with beneficial bioflavonoids (which are also found in fruits and vegetables) and has been associated with a number of health benefits.

These benefits range from anti-inflammatory properties to reduced risk of heart disease but up until now the mechanisms behind these perceived benefits have been hazy at best.

To fill this knowledge gap, researchers from the National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition in Rome, Italy recruited six healthy volunteers aged between 35 and 50.

The volunteers took 150 milligrams of Pycnogenol for five days and blood samples were taken before and after the supplemental period.

The researchers then analyzed the blood samples and found that Pycnogenol blocked the cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX) enzymes, two of the main mediators of inflammation.

These findings show that the mechanism behind Pycnogenol's anti-inflammatory benefits is much different than that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin.

NSAIDs reduce the production of prostaglandins, which are chemical messengers that induce inflammation and are produced by the COX-2 enzyme. Pycnogenol, on the other hand, appears to go straight to the root of the problem and completely stops the production of COX-2.

These findings may help support claims made by supplement makers, particularly with regard to joint health. The researchers see promise for a supplement that combines Pycnogenol with joint health supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin. Such a supplement could lessen inflammation while simultaneously rebuilding joint cartilage.

Taking a Pycnogenol supplement may help to reduce inflammation and your risk of developing inflammatory diseases, such as osteoporosis and arthritis. It is also a good idea to eat less pro-inflammatory foods (fried foods, soft drinks, saturated fats), and more anti-inflammatory foods (raw nuts, dark green vegetables, omega-3 rich fish).

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