July 13, 2006
Supplementation with an extract of French maritime pine bark reduced symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) more effectively than did the primary pharmaceutical remedy, according to results from a study published recently in the journal of Clinical and Applied Thrombosis/Hematosis (12,2:205-12, 2006). The extract, Pycnogenol<\#168> (available in the United States from Natural Health Sciences), had a greater effect on edema (leg swelling), tight calves, skin alterations, pain during walking and swelling limbs compared to Daflon, a drug combination of diosmin and hesperidin that is commonly prescribed to treat CVI. Some 500,000 Americans develop leg ulcers and leg and ankle swelling due to CVI, which if left untreated, can lead to dangerous conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
In the study, a group of 86 patients with severe CVI, venous hypertension, ankle swelling and previous history of venous ulcerations received eight weeks of either oral Pycnogenol (150 mg or 300 mg daily) or Daflon (1,000 mg/day); there were no dropouts in the study. After eight weeks, microcirculatory test results showed a progressive decrease of skin flux at rest (RF); a significant decrease in capillary filtration (RAS); an improvement in the symptomatic venous score (ASLS); a reduction in edema; a significant improvement (increase) in pO2 (parital pressure of oxygen); and a decrease in pCO2 in the Pycnogenol group. Most patients in the Pycnogenol group experienced a significant level of improvement 4 weeks of treatment, while clinical improvement was significant only in 6 subjects in the Daflon group. After eight weeks, the positive effects from Pycnogenol were significantly larger than with the Daflon group.
The researchers concluded Pycnogenol supplementation in patients with CVI and venous microangiopathy not only provides fast clinical efficacy, but also demonstrates superiority to the combination of diosmin and hesperidin.
"Chronic venous insufficiency is caused when leg veins cannot pump enough blood back into the heart. When people are not active, blood pools in their leg veins, legs and ankles can become swollen," said Peter Rohdewald, Ph.D. and lead researcher of the study. "Eventually, some of the valves cannot hold the weight of excessive blood, which then adds more pressure onto the next valve further downwards. Ultimately, the inability to prevent the liquid in the blood from seeping into the tissue is what causes edema, a common condition of CVI." He added this study revealed supplementation with a very high dosage of 300 mg/d Pycnogenol did not yield significantly better effects than treatment with 150 mg/d Pycnogenol, with the exception of the composite edema score, which improved better with the higher dosage.
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