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Pycnogenol, the vegetable lubricant for worn joints

Pycnogenol, the vegetable lubricant for worn joints
Slightly worn, stiff and painful joints function noticeably better due to supplementation with 150 milligrams of Pycnogenol per day. This is evident from a nearly forgotten study, which Slovak researchers published in Phytotherapy Research in 2008. And if the researchers are right - as far as the mechanism of action of Pycnogenol is concerned - Pycnogenol might delay the wear process in joints.

The researchers experimented with 100 subjects, all of whom had a mild and beginning form of osteoarthritis. During 12 weeks, half of the subjects took a capsule containing 50 milligrams of Pycnogenol every day during breakfast, lunch and dinner. The other half took a placebo.

Before the supplementation started, during the supplementation and another 2-3 weeks thereafter, the researchers asked the subjects about the functioning of their joints.

The Slovak government and Pycnogenol producer Horphag financed the research.

Supplementation with Pycnogenol reduced the pain that the subjects reported. The effect was strong enough to reduce the use of painkillers during the supplementation period. Click on the figure below for a larger version.

Pycnogenol, the vegetable lubricant for worn joints

Pycnogenol, the vegetable lubricant for worn joints

Pycnogenol also made the joints less stiff.

Pycnogenol, the vegetable lubricant for worn joints

Te subjects who took Pycnogenol reported less inconvenience during daily activities than the palcebo users. Click on the figure below for a larger version.

Pycnogenol, the vegetable lubricant for worn joints

"Interleukin-1-induced inflammatory response in arthritic joints include the enhanced expression and activity of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs)", write the researchers. "Their matrix degrading activity contribute to the irreversible loss of cartilage and may also be associated with sustained chronic inflammation. In the context of the treatment of osteoarthritis, the interaction of Pycnogenol with MMPs is of great interest."

"In vitro, Pycnogenol inhibits selectively MMPs [Free Radic Biol Med. 2004 Mar 15;36(6):811-22.]. After intake of Pycnogenol, the plasma from volunteers inhibited the release of MMP-9 from activated macrophages [J Inflamm (Lond). 2006 Jan 27;3:1.] thus demonstrating the bioavailabilty of the inhibitor of MMP-9. These findings led to the assumption that Pycnogenol could be helpful in osteoarthritis by blocking the deleterious actions of MMPs on cartilage."

"The transcription factor NFkB is a key element in inflammation as its activation starts the synthesis of cytokines and adhesion factors. It could be shown in vitro that Pycnogenol inhibits the activation of NFkB [Free Radic Biol Med. 2000 Jun 1;28(11):1598-606.] [Methods Enzymol. 2001;335:380-7.] [Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2000 Oct 1;168(1):64-71.]"

"Recently, it could be proven that after intake of Pycnogenol plasma contains enough activity to inhibit significantly the activation of NFkB in inflammatory cells [Free Radic Biol Med. 2004 Mar 15;36(6):811-22.]. This inhibition, downregulating the subsequent steps of inflammation, explains the antiinflammatory activity of Pycnogenol which had been observed in many studies."

"Pycnogenol offers an interesting alternative to treatment of early knee osteoarthritis with nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs or analgesics because of its low rate of unwanted effects and its efficacy", the researchers summarize. "As a concomitant supplement, Pycnogenol may spare the use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs, thus reducing unwanted effects."

Phytother Res. 2008 Aug;22(8):1087-92.

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