I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I was doing research on the herbal supplement Pycnogenol, or pine bark extract. I started doing the research for a particular health problem but was soon stunned to see the number of uses this stuff has and the breadth of research that's being done by the medical community. Here is a summary from the website of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York:
Clinical SummaryDerived from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, Pinus maritima, a trademarked product, Pycnogenol®, has been used in clinical trials. Pine bark extract consists of proanthocyanidins which have strong antioxidant, antiinflammatory properties and exhibit immunostimulant effect in animals (1). It has been studied for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and endothelial dysfunction (2) in adults (3), and in children (4), cardiovascular disease, chronic venous insufficiency (5), and inflammatory conditions (6). In addition, pycnogenol supplementation enhances memory in elderly participants (7), reduces menopausal symptoms in peri-menopausal women (8), and improves osteoarthritis symptoms in patients with grade I or II osteoarthritis (9) (10). It is also used to treat skin disorders such as melasma (11) and erythema (12), endometriosis (13), and systemic lupus erythematosus (14). In vitro studies indicate that pycnogenol inhibits HIV attachment and replication (15), suppresses encephalomyocarditis virus (EMV) replication (16), and represses Helicobacter pylori growth and adherence to a gastric cell line, AGS cells (17). Pine bark extract, when used in conjunction with L-arginine, has been found effective in treating erectile dysfunction (18). Chewing gum containing pine bark extract may reduce gingival bleeding and plaque accumulation (19).
Almost sounds like a nineteenth century "cures-all-that's-ailin'-ya" potion, doesn't it? I'm a born skeptic about stuff like this. Seriously. But this research is hard to ignore and I'm watching with more than a little interest, not only for my own problems but for treatment of childhood asthma and many other conditions that affect people I love.
Anyway, several people have asked me about it, so I'm going to list here some of the links to studies I've found (many of which are referred to in the above Sloan-Kettering summary). This is not meant to be medical advice (heaven forbid that I'd ever do THAT) and I certainly have no financial interest here...though I wouldn't be above taking a small kickback from Vitacost, my preferred supplier, if they were so inclined ;-)
JUST KIDDING. I'm providing these links simply so that if you're interested you'll have a shortcut to some of the medical studies.
(And let me know if you'd be interested in an invitation to my 150th birthday party.)