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Pine Bark May Lessen Hypertensive Kidney Damage

An extract made from the French maritime pine bark called Pycnogenol has been gaining increasing popularity as the science behind its health benefits grows.

A recent study published in the February 2010 issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics adds kidney health to the list of benefits associated with Pycnogenol.

The study found that the pine bark extract may help increase blood flow, thereby reducing the risk of hypertension and the resulting kidney damage that often occurs.

Researchers from G D'Annunzio University in Italy recruited 55 hypertensive patients for the randomized, controlled study.

All of the participants were given 10 mg of an anti-hypertensive medication called Ramipril daily for 6 months. Additionally, half of the participants also received 150 mg of Pycnogenol daily for 6 months.

At the beginning and end of the study the researchers measured urinary levels of the protein albumin, which is used to measure kidney function. When the kidneys are damaged, albumin leaks from the kidney into the urine.

At the end of the study the researchers observed a 26% reduction in albumin levels in the group taking only Ramipril and a 57% reduction among the participants given both Ramipril and Pycnogenol.

The participants taking Ramipril and Pycnogenol also saw a 10% improvement in blood flow to the kidneys.

All the participants also saw greater reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure; 30% and 8% respectively for the Ramipril only group and 35% and 11% respectively for the Rampril and Pycnogenol group.

This study adds to the findings of previous studies that have linked Pycnogenol to reductions in blood pressure. Due to Pycnogenol's anti-inflammatory properties, it may also be effective at fighting other inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes.

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