natural arthritis remedies

Pine Bark Extract

SUMMARY: Pine Bark Extract treats Osteoarthritis, Arthritis and Gout

Pine bark extract is a remedy that has been used in naturopathy for centuries. Over the course of the last 15 years, the extract has also been intensively studied by Western standards. By now, over 300 studies have been conducted.

Amongst other things, the extract has an anti-inflammatory effect and may thus diminish the degeneration of cartilage, as demonstated by various studies.

In the course of three rather large-scale studies regarding the effect on osteoarthritis and arthritis, pain was reduced to roughly one half (-43%, -40% and -55% respectively), the stiffness was improved to a similar extent and the general physical function was significantly improved (+52%, +22%, +56%).

No side-effects were discovered. The recommended daily dosage is between 80 mg and 150 mg per day.

Introduction to Pine Bark Extract

Pine bark extract is obtained from the bark of the French coastal pine (pinus pinaster). It contains a high level of antioxidative substances, micro nutrients and inflammation inhibitors. Ultimately, it is this combination of various active ingredients which makes pine bark extract so interesting for treatment of inflammatory diseases from the rheumatic field.

There are many very promising studies involving pine bark, especially with regards to osteoarthritis. A total of over 300 studies revealed no side-effects worth mentioning, making pine bark extract a very safe remedy that has been classified as a dietary supplement rather than a pharmaceutical product.

Pine bark extract in clinical research studies

An Italian study group conducted the San Valentino osteoarthritis study as early as 2008. 1 It involved 77 patients who were administered a 100 mg daily dose of pine bark extract for a duration of 3 months. An additional 79 participants were part of the placebo group.

The pain symptoms were demonstrably reduced with pine bark extract, while the painless walking distance on the treadmill was increased by about 130 meters in three months. At the same time, the risk of suffering gastrointestinal problems was reduced by 63%.

Thus the researchers concluded that pine bark extract is a suitable therapeutic for the treatment of osteoarthritis and even helps in reducing the consumption of conventional painkillers.

The very same year, a Slovak group confirmed this study’s results. 2. One hundred patients suffering from mild to moderate osteoarthritis (degree I and II), received a daily dose of 150 mg pine bark extract for a duration of three months.

In contrast to a placebo group, the joint’s mobility increased in the treated group. In this case, the pain intensity was also significantly reduced. Consequently, participants who were supplied with pine bark extract (researched in the course of the study under use of the brand Pycnogenol®) were able to save more on painkillers at large.

But what could the effectiveness of pine bark extract be based on?

In 2008, Belcaro and colleagues set out to answer this question. The researchers examined the influence Pycnogenol has on marker proteins for inflammation and formation of radicals such as, for example, CRP.3 A clear decrease of CRP levels in the blood was observed in the group that was treated with pine bark extract.

Studies by Grimm et al.4 and also Schäfer et al.5 led to similar results: The taking of pine bark extract successfully reduced various inflammation markers, particularly including a 15% reduction of COX enzymes. Consequently, the deterioration of cartilage tissue was reduced by 25%.

As a result, pine bark extract appears to have a direct anti-inflammatory effect in the joints, whereby swelling and pains are reduced.

Due to its anti-inflammatory effect, pine bark extract can also help in the treatment of inflammatory diseases stemming from the rheumatic field of disorders. A study by Peng and colleagues dealt with the influence the extract has on inflammation resulting from gout.6

The researchers examined the activation of inflammatory signaling pathways in cartilage cells, as well as their inhibition, by means of treatment with Pycnogenol® in their rat model. While the uric acid crystals promote the release of inflammatory factors in the joints of the rats, pine bark extract very specifically inhibited the production of these substances.

The experiment demonstrated that, due to its anti-inflammatory properties, pine bark extract can also reduce the damage to joint cartilage that resulted from gout-like disorders.

Purchase Pine Bark Extract

Some good combination preparations for the joints also contain pine bark extract. Due to the fact, that the health of the joint cartilage depends on many factors, combination preparations are superior to individual active substances.

Provide your joints with all the nutrients they require. You can find an overview of the best joint nutrition here.

You may however also comfortably purchase pine bark extract itself, for example from

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  1. Belcaro et al. 2008. Treatment of osteoarthritis with Pycnogenol. The SVOS (San Valentino Osteo-arthrosis Study, Evaluation of signs, symptoms, physical performance and vascular aspects. Phytother Res 22(4), 518-23; doi: 10.1002/ptr.2376
  2. Cisar et al. 2008. Effect of pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®) on symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Phytother Res 22(8), 1087-92; doi: 10.1002/ptr.2461
  3. Belcaro et al. 2008. Variations in C-reactive protein, plasma free radicals and fibrinogen values in patients with osteoarthritis treated with Pycnogenol. Redox Rep 13(6), 271-6; doi: 10.1179/135100008X309019
  4. Grimm T et al. Inhibition of NF-kB activation and MMP-9 secretion by plasma of human volunteers after ingestion of maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®). J Inflamm 3: 1-15, 2006
  5. Schäfer A et al. Inhibition of COX-1 and COX-2 activity by plasma of human volunteers after ingestion of French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®). Biomed & Pharmacother 60: 5-9, 2006
  6. Peng et al. 2012. Pycnogenol attenuates the inflammatory and nitrosative stress on joint inflammation induced by urate crystals. Free Radic Biol Med 52(4), 765-74; doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2011.12.003

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