Heart DiseaseHigh Blood PressurePine Bark Extract

No effect of pine bark extract on cardiovascular disease risk

Pine bark extract is a dietary antioxidant supplement.

In this study, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, in California, attempt to correct past studies that they consider flawed.

First, the details.

  • 130 people with increased cardiovascular disease risk were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
    • 200 mg of a water-based extract of pine bark (marketed as Flavagenol in Japan) once per day
    • Placebo
  • Blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risk factors were measured at the start of the study and at 6 and 12 weeks.

And, the results.

  • Over 12 weeks of treatment the sum of systolic and diastolic blood pressures decreased 1 mmHg with pine bark extract and 2 mmHg with placebo — not a significant difference.
  • There was also no difference in body mass index, cholesterol and liver enzyme levels, and levels of insulin, lipoprotein(a), fasting blood sugar, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (reflects ongoing inflammation).
  • There were no subgroups of people for whom pine bark extract altered cardiovascular disease risk factors.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “This pine bark extract (at a dosage of 200 mg/day) was safe but was not associated with improvement in cardiovascular disease risk factors.”

Looking at the big picture, the authors state further, “Our results are consistent with a general failure of antioxidants to demonstrate cardiovascular benefits.”

Over the past decade, a series of positive studies of pine bark extract have been published. Many can be reviewed here, and another reporting a positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors is here.

The Stanford researchers tell us that past studies were poorly designed. However, many of these studies also used Pycnogenol, a specific brand of pine bark extract that’s produce using a different extraction process.

It’s unclear what effect this might have had on study outcomes.

9/28/10 20:39 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.