Third clinical trial reconfirms strong evidence pycnogenol lowers joint pain, symptoms; May now have lasting effect on joints following cessation of the extract

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, is on the rise. A new study published in the August journal of Phytotherapy Research, reveals Pycnogenol, bark extract from the French maritime pine tree, reduced overall knee osteoarthritis (OA) symptoms by 20.9 percent and lowered pain by 40.3 percent. To date, this is the third clinical trial on osteoarthritis treatment with Pycnogenol. This study investigated what happens to joint symptoms after treatment with Pycnogenol is terminated and the results show that no relapse occurred after two weeks. Pycnogenol acts as potent anti-inflammatory and the lasting effects found in this study suggest that Pycnogenol may help the joints to recover.

With osteoarthritis cases on the rise, many are seeking non-traditional medication to help ease the pain and reduce the amount of traditional medication taken. The CDC estimates osteoarthritis affects 34 percent of all adults over the age of 65. In 2005, an estimated 26.9 million adults in the U.S. had osteoarthritis, which was up from 21 million in 1990. While there’s no known cure for osteoarthritis, treatments such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or analgesics can help reduce pain and also maintain joint movement, to help the quality of life for people living with the disease. In more severe cases, cortisone shots and joint replacement surgery are used to treat OA.

“The current study is in accordance with the two previous Pycnogenol studies for osteoarthritis,” said Dr. Peter Rohdewald, one of the researchers of the study. “Again the pain is gradually decreasing during the course of three months treatment with Pycnogenol. An improvement is found after the first month and a further improvement is seen after two months, where values are significantly different to the placebo group. 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.”

The study was held at Slovakia’s Comenius University School of Medicine. One hundred patients with stage I or II OA 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 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,” said Rohdewald. “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. 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.”

In another study this year (also published in the journal of Phytotherapy Research), Pycnogenol was shown to reduce osteoarthritis symptoms by 56 percent. Moreover, patients required 58 percent less standard pain medication, which greatly improved the gastrointestinal complications resulting from the pain medication by 63 percent. Last year, a study on osteoarthritis carried out at the University of Arizona Tucson (published in Nutrition Research) discovered that Pycnogenol was effective for improving pain and joint function. After three months in the Pycnogenol group, there was a reduction of 43 percent in pain, 35 percent in stiffness and 52 percent in physical function subscales, respectively. The placebo group showed no significant scores throughout the entire study.