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Painful hemorrhoids, high blood pressure and skin issues, such as psoriasis, all have something in common: Blood flow. Research finds these three issues can all be successfully treated with the pine bark extract called Pycnogenol.
In a flurry of research on one of the most efficacious natural extracts known to exist (see: 80 diseases that benefit from pycnogenol on the GMI database), three recent clinical studies have shown that the French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol, can treat psoriasis and hemorrhoids, and reduce hypertension.
The link between these three? They are all associated with the need for healthy blood flow.
The Case For Psoriasis and Pycnogenol
In research from Italy's Chieti-Pescara University, researchers tested patients with moderate to severe cases of plaque psoriasis. For three months, half of the patients were given 150 milligrams of the patented pine bark extract per day and the other half were treated with conventional medicine's best practices.
After the three months, the Pycnogenol patients had significantly better results than the conventional treatment group. The pine bark group had significantly higher skin water content and reduced symptoms – including erythema, induration and desquamation – compared to the controls.
In the final analysis, the Pycnogenol patients had an average of 32 percent increased healing times and a 36 percent reduction in treatment costs compared to the control group.
Furthermore, the differences in improvements among the patients was greater among those patients with more severe cases of psoriasis.
Pine Bark Extract Speeds Healing Time of Hemorrhoids
This healing effect of pine bark upon the skin is also reflected by one of the more painful chronic maladies for some: hemorrhoids.
In another study from Italy's Chieti-Pescara University, researchers tested 49 women patients with chronic (3rd and 4th degree) hemorrhoids following pregnancy. Half the group was given 150 milligrams of the pine bark extract Pycnogenol per day and the other half was treated with conventional medicine's "best management" for hemorrhoids. The treatment period was six months.
By the end of the six months, 75 percent of the Pycnogenol patients had no symptoms of hemorrhoids, while 56 percent of the control group was symptom free.
The more severe and chronic patients had the best success with the pine bark extract. Seventy percent of those with 4th degree hemorrhoids taking the pine bark were symptom free at six months, while only 36 percent of the control group was symptom free.
Pycnogenol, Hypertension and Blood Flow
At least part of these positive effects of Pycnogenol come from the reality that the extract improves blood vessel health, reduces plaque and increases blood flow. This is particularly useful among the smaller blood vessels – such as those that nourish skin cells.
Researchers tested 93 patients with blood/artery-related disorders – 32 of whom had high blood pressure, 31 who had high cholesterol levels and 30 who had blood sugar control problems (hyperglycemic) – along with 31 healthy patients. At issue was not only blood pressure, but blood flow – measured by laser Doppler flux measurements – or LDF.
Each of the above disorders is related to decreased blood flow due to the lack of flexibility among the blood vessel walls and the existence of plaque within the blood vessels – which partially blocks the flow of blood through the veins and arteries.
After two and three months of Pycnogenol treatment at 150 milligrams per day, the researchers found that all four groups had increased blood flow and reduced blood pressure.
After two months, the researchers found blood flow increased by 54 percent, and at three months, by more than two-thirds.
Furthermore, the Effective ionic dialysance (EID) – a measure of dialysis blood flow and urea clearance - increased by over 14 percent at eight weeks and 19 percent at twelve weeks.
Furthermore, the blood flow values of the patients with artery conditions compared closely to the blood flow of the healthy group after the three months. But the healthy group also experienced increased blood flow levels after the three month period.
In addition to this effect – and likely contributing to it – the researchers found that the pine bark extract significantly reduced oxidative stress among the subjects. Oxidative stress has been linked to artery plaque and high LDL-cholesterol, as lipid peroxidation converts low-density lipoproteins to free radicals, which damage our blood vessel walls.
Other research has found pine bark extract significantly neutralizes free radicals within the body.
Belcaro G, Luzzi R, Hu S, Cesarone MR, Dugall M, Ippolito E, Corsi M, Caporale S. Improvement in signs and symptoms in psoriasis patients with Pycnogenol® supplementation. Panminerva Med. 2014 Mar;56(1):41-8.
Belcaro G, Gizzi G, Pellegrini L, Dugall M, Luzzi R, Corsi M, Ippolito E, Ricci A, Cesarone MR, Ledda A, Bottari A, Errichi BM. Pycnogenol® in postpartum symptomatic hemorrhoids. Minerva Ginecol. 2014 Feb;66(1):77-84.
Hu S, Belcaro G, Cornelli U, Luzzi R, Cesarone MR, Dugall M, Feragalli B, Errichi B, Ippolito E, Grossi MG, Hosoi M, Gizzi G, Trignani M. Effects of pycnogenol on endothelial dysfunction in borderline hypertensive, hyperlipidemic, and hyperglycemic individuals: the borderline study. Int Angiol. 2014 Nov 13.