Pine Bark Extract May Reduce Cold Symptoms

The French maritime pine bark extract Pycnogenol (from Horphag) can significantly shorten the duration of the common cold, and it also reduces the severity of sore throat, congestion, headache, coughing and sneezing.

HOBOKEN, N.J.—The French maritime pine bark extract Pycnogenol (from Horphag) can significantly shorten the duration of the common cold, and it also reduces the severity of sore throat, congestion, headache, coughing and sneezing. (Panminerva Medica. 2014 Dec; 56(4): 301-308)

“The common cold hits hard around this time of year, disrupting work hours, holiday plans and vacations. Those who seek over-the-counter remedies often trade some relief for side effects such as drowsiness. This study builds on previous research showing Pycnogenol offers measurable symptom-relief naturally, reduces the need for over-the-counter remedies, and shortens the duration of the common cold," said Steven Lamm, a physician and nutritional medicine expert.

According to the National Institutes for Health, Americans suffer 1 billion colds annually; this affects daily productivity and costs each working adult an average of 8.7 lost work hours with an economic impact of nearly $25 billion.

The peer-reviewed study, conducted at Chieti-Pescara University in Italy, included 146 participants between ages 25 to 65 years, all of whom were generally fit and in good health, and none of whom suffered from prior respiratory illnesses or had received a flu vaccination within three months prior to study inclusion.

At the first symptom, 70 participants elected to take 50 mg of Pycnogenol twice daily in addition to their preferred best management; 76 participants in the control group relied on best management alone. Currently there is no best management for the common cold, and it is left up to the discretion of the individual patient, such as using a topical nasal decongestant or washing hands.

On average, symptoms of the common cold last five to 10 days, said Lamm, with the first four days being the most severe. In the study, within four days of the first symptom, supplementation with Pycnogenol was shown to:

 “The significant effect of Pycnogenol® to treat nasal congestion and runny nose can be attributed to the extract’s natural anti-inflammatory, anti-edema and antioxidant qualities, and for its ability to improve blood circulation," said Gianni Belcaro, lead researcher of the study. “These findings are supported by decades of research on Pycnogenol’s ability to naturally boost the immune system."

Results in the study were self-reported using a visual analogue scale and the pillar symptoms, as defined by the Merck Manual, and were evaluated by the following symptoms: scratchy or sore throat, sneezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, malaise, cough, temperature and headache.

While there is no standard treatment for the common cold, popular over-the-counter treatments include aspirin, pain relievers, fever reducers, nose drops and sprays, antihistamines and cough syrups.

Previous research found Pycnogenol in combination with vitamin C and zinc shortened the duration and lessened the symptoms of the common cold.

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