Pinebark and osteoarthritis

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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A recent study (Journal of Phytotherapy Research, August 2008) led by Dr. Peter Rohdewald of the University of Munster in Germany has shown that the pine bark extract helps in reducing knee arthritis pain.

The research revealed that pycnogenol, a bark extract from the French maritime pine tree, may help reduce overall knee osteoarthritis symptoms. Lab. studies have shown that the pine bark extract has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

For this study, researchers analyzed the data collected from 100 Slovakian adults with mild knee arthritis. The study subjects were randomly assigned to take either 150 milligrams of pine bark extract or a placebo every day for three months.

The study subjects continued taking their usual non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) or analgesics, prescribed before the study but had to record every pill taken. Researchers used the established Western Ontario McMaster questionnaire for joint function to rate the pain level, and obtain measures of joint stiffness and to what extent the arthritis affects participation in daily activities. Patient’s symptoms were assessed after two week intervals over the treatment period of three months and a final time two weeks after discontinuation of medication.

The group taking pycnogenol showed 20.9 percent improvement in the overall score, comprising pain, stiffness and daily activities. Moreover the joint improvement achieved with pycnogenol persisted for four weeks, after the intake of pycnogenol was discontinued.

Analysis of data also showed 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.

Intake of pycnogenol also reduced the intake of NSAIDS and other analgesic medication for joint pain by 38 percent.

Rohdewald said: "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."

He added: "I always recommend that patients communicate with their physicians (about) what they are taking in addition to the prescribed medication."

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