Pinebark and arthritis

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

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Pycnogenol, bark extract from the French maritime pine tree, may help reduce overall knee osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms, according to a study published in August 2008.

The researchers also examined what happens to joint symptoms after treatment with pycnogenol is terminated and found that no relapse occurred after two weeks.

Pycnogenol acts as potent anti-inflammatory and the lasting effects found in this study suggest that it may help the joints to recover.

“The current study is in accordance with the two previous pycnogenol studies for osteoarthritis. Again the pain is gradually decreasing during the course of three months treatment with pycnogenol,” said Dr. Peter Rohdewald, co-author of the study.

“This study again showed that patients required significantly less analgesic medication while supplementing with pycnogenol, whereas this was not the case with the placebo-treated control group,” Rohdewald added.

One hundred patients were included in the study and were randomly allocated to either a pycnogenol or placebo group. Patients were supplemented with 150 mg pycnogenol or placebo per day over a period of three months.

They were allowed to continue taking their NSAID or analgesics prescribed before the study but had to record every pill taken. The established Western Ontario McMaster questionnaire for joint function was employed to rate the pain level, and obtain measures of joint stiffness and to what extent the arthritis affects participation in daily activities.

Patients were investigated in two week intervals over the treatment period of three months and a final time two weeks after discontinuation of medication.

The overall score, summarizing pain, stiffness and daily activities, improved statistical significantly by 20.9 percent in the pycnogenol group.

Interestingly, the joint improvement achieved with Pycnogenol persisted after intake of Pycnogenol was discontinued for four weeks.

The researchers found that the joint pain decreased by 40.3 percent after completion of the three months supplementation with pycnogenol and two weeks later the pain was still 36.1 percent lower than at baseline.

Furthermore, 38 percent of patients in the pycnogenol group required less NSAID’s or other analgesic medication for joint pain.

“The anti-inflammatory potency of pycnogenol explains the success in lowering joint pain and stiffness for arthritic joints. After three recent clinical studies on osteoarthritis, pycnogenol continues to demonstrate its effectiveness for osteoarthritis symptoms making it a viable, natural and safe alternative for individuals,” said Rohdewald.

“This is the first study that investigated whether a relapse of symptoms occurs after taking pycnogenol is stopped. The results show a lasting effect after discontinuation which suggest the anti-inflammatory mechanisms of pycnogenol has allowed the joints to recover,” Rohdewald added.

The study is published in the August journal of Phytotherapy Research.

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