Pine Tree Bark is as Big as its Bite

Pine tree bark extract shown to improve kidney function in metabolic syndrome patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) As many as 35 million adults in the U.S. may suffer with metabolic syndrome-- a group of risk factors including high blood pressure, obesity and high blood glucose levels.

Uncontrolled hypertension and blood glucose levels can gradually impair kidney function, but a new study indicates Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, may help remedy kidney impairment in patients with metabolic syndrome, along with effective blood pressure control, reduced blood sugar and weight loss.

Dr. Peter Rohdewald, a lead researcher of the study, said kidney damage is common in people with metabolic syndrome due to the large number of cardiovascular risk factors involved.

In the study following 58 hypertensive patients with criteria for metabolic syndrome, people taking Pycnogenol® demonstrated lower blood glucose levels and significant weight loss during a six-month period. Subjects took Pycnogenol® at 8 a.m., 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. Researchers conducted urine and blood analyses and tested blood pressure twice daily.

Additionally, Pycnogenol® was shown to help lower blood pressure when taken in combination with Ramipril, a blood pressure drug. (This resulted in 128.2/90.2 mmHg compared to 122.2/85.3 mmHg for the combination group).

Kidney function improved in the group taking only Pycnogenol® and in the group taking Pycnogenol and Ramipril.

The World Health Organization defines metabolic syndrome as a combination of hypertension, high blood fat, high fasting blood glucose levels and obesity (a body mass index over 30).

"These are promising findings, but I would remind anyone with metabolic syndrome and especially anyone who has reduced kidney function to always discuss taking any natural supplements with their treating physician before starting a regimen" noted Dr. Joseph V. Madia.

Adverse effects of Pycnogenol® may include irritability and decreased energy, especially when used for ADHD. The extract may also interact with certain chemotherapeutic drugs, anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs and immunosuppressants.

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Review Date: 
March 3, 2011
Last Updated:
March 3, 2011