You may have heard that French Maritime pine bark extract, or Pinus pinaster, can reduce atherosclerosis. Hardening of the arteries is a leading cause of heart attacks and stroke. The middle-aged and seniors are vulnerable to high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar. Diet, exercise, and weight management are important for controlling metabolic syndrome. Additionally, this extract has been shown to alter fat metabolism and inflammation that are factors in atherosclerosis. How does French Maritime Pine bark extract address plaque build-up in the arteries?
Special Substances in French Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Procyanidins, phenolic acids, and other compounds are found in French Maritime Pine bark extract. These substances alter how the body metabolizes fat. They also reduce an important inflammation-signaling chemical. Chronic inflammation is widely accepted as a major player in hardening of the arteries.
A scientific review1 summarized many benefits, including:
- Supports immunity
- Supports respiration
- Fights oxidative stress
- Contributes to lowering hypertension
- Supports small blood vessel expansion
- Reduces the effects of epinephrine and norepinephrine on blood vessel constriction
The last three points are related to coronary heart disease. Researchers have gone further to understand this supplement’s effect on plaque. The build-up of plaque is often symptomless until the person has a heart attack or stroke.
Research on Pine Bark and Plaque Build-Up
A small study2 looked at 23 patients who had coronary artery disease. They took 200 mg of French Maritime Pine Bark each day for two months. Researchers took measurements of the brachial artery in the forearm before, during, and after treatment. The subjects were also measured after they took a placebo (such as a sugar pill) for two months. During the placebo period, endothelial function did not change. However, after the pine bark treatment period, subjects had a 32% increase in endothelial function and in flow-mediate dilation. Oxidized fat levels were also lower after taking the extract.
Another study looked at 93 seemingly-healthy subjects; however, they had risk factors for coronary disease.3 They were divided into equally-sized groups: subjects with elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar levels, and elevated blood lipids (cholesterol). In addition to continuing their medical symptom management, half took 150 mg of pine bark extract each day. Over the course of 12 weeks, the subjects who took the extract had an increase in flow-mediated dilation of 66%. The subjects who had no supplements stayed the same.
As most people age, they gradually develop metabolic syndrome. Without warning, they are at risk for stroke or heart attack. A healthy diet and daily exercise are important. Additionally, supplements such as French Maritime pine bark may reduce plaque build-up and keep the arteries flowing. Research into this supplement could lead to its wide acceptance for preventing heart disease.
Editor’s Note: Eye Pressure Support formula contains Mirtogenol, a combination of French Martitime pine bark, bilberry and other extracts.
Up Next: Pine Bark’s Effects on Glaucoma and Diabetic Retinopathy.
- P. Rohdewald, A review of the French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol), a herbal medication with a diverse clinical pharmacology., International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, April, 2002 ↩
- Enseleit F, Sudano I, Periat D, et al. Effects of Pycnogenol on endothelial function in patients with stable coronary artery disease: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. Eur Heart J. 2012 Jul;33(13):1589-97. ↩
- Hu S, Belcaro G, Cornelli U, et al. Effects of Pycnogenol(R) on endothelial dysfunction in borderline hypertensive, hyperlipidemic, and hyperglycemic individuals: the borderline study. Int Angiol. 2015 Feb;34(1):43-52. ↩