Tinnitus is a hearing condition that causes the constant misperception of sound, including hissing, ringing and rushing noises. A study recently published in Panminerva Medica reveals that Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract derived from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, is effective in relieving tinnitus symptoms by improving blood flow in the inner ear.
"Impaired blood flow to the ear is a common cause for tinnitus, a disturbing and very debilitating condition that can considerably impact overall health and quality of life," said Dr. Gianni Belcaro, a lead researcher on the study along with his team from Irvine3 Vascular labs, Chieti-Pescara University. "With few options available for treatment, this study gave us the opportunity to explore a natural solution to tinnitus symptoms and its causes."
In a study conducted by the Chieti-Pescara University in Italy, 82 patients between the ages of 35 and 55 with mild-to-moderate tinnitus in only one ear, while the other remains unaffected, were studied throughout a four-week period. Tinnitus in all subjects was a result of restricted blood supply to the inner ear, as measured by high resolution ultrasonography imaging of their cochlear blood flow. Patients were assigned to one of three groups: A, B and control. Group A consisted of 24 patients who were administered 150 mg/day of Pycnogenol®, group B consisted of 34 patients who were administered 100 mg/day of Pycnogenol®, and the control group consisted of 24 patients who received no Pycnogenol®. None of the patients had previously used medication for their tinnitus symptoms.
At the beginning of the study, patients' average initial systolic and diastolic blood flow velocities were 14.3 and 4.22 cm/sec in the low dose Pycnogenol® group and 13.2 and 3.2 cm/sec in the high dose Pycnogenol® group, indicative of insufficient blood perfusion of the ear in both groups. The study found that after four weeks of treatment with Pycnogenol®, inner ear systolic and diastolic blood flow velocities in the affected ear rose to an average of 21.2 and 8.23 cm/sec in the low dose group and to 24.3 and 12.5 cm/sec in the high dose group. Not only are these results significant for the improvement of inner ear blood micro-circulation and, consequently reduction of tinnitus symptoms, but they also indicate the potentially dose-related effect of Pycnogenol® on the condition.
The study also examined in detail the effects of Pycnogenol® on the symptoms of tinnitus. Using a Subjective Tinnitus Scale (STS) at the inception of the study, subjects were instructed to rate their symptoms from "zero" (low intensity of symptoms) to "fifteen" (constant and severe symptoms). The initial STS average value was approximately 8.8 among patients in the Pycnogenol® group and 7.9 in the control group. After four weeks, STS scores reduced to 5.2 in the low dose group and 3.3 in the high dose group, demonstrating a dramatic reduction of the disturbing background noise in the effected ear. There were no significant changes within the control group.
"The study clearly indicates Pycnogenol®'s ability to improve vascular function and restore cochlear blood perfusion, which in turn relieves the severity of tinnitus symptoms" said Dr. Belcaro. "The results provide further evidence of the supplement's natural efficacy for a variety of vascular health symptoms."
This study further corroborates Pycnogenol®'s prominence for improvement of vascular function which spans from the large arteries and veins to the tiniest micro-vessels.
Pycnogenol® is a proprietary, patented pine bark extract and the research findings detailed here and in other published journals may not be applied to other pine bark extracts on the market.
It should be noted that 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.