Inadequate prescription therapy pain-management, lack of doctor-patient communication about over-the-counter (OTC) medications and easy accessibility of OTC medications may contribute to patients using more than one medication to manage pain," writes Stacey H. Kovac, Ph.D., from Durham Veterans Administration Medical Center and Duke University in Durham, N.C., and colleagues1. New research is proving that dietary supplementation could lessen the reliance on the overuse of pain medications, such as NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

Pycnogenol®, a proprietary dietary supplement from French maritime pine bark, has withstood the test of time. Areas such as heart health, inflammation, skin care, blood glucose, PMS and women’s health, and sports nutrition have been researched. Now, three separate clinical studies have found Pycnogenol beneficial for osteoarthritis, notes Natural Health Science Inc.

The first pilot trial was performed at the University of Arizona, Tucson, in which 37 patients received this proprietary supplement or a placebo, in addition to their standard NSAID or selective COX-2 inhibition, over a period of three months. In the treatment group, the pain was found to gradually decrease over two months, resulting in a significant reduction of 43, 35 and 52% in self-reported pain, stiffness and physical function, respectively, while the placebo group showed no significant changes. 2

In a three-month, second study with 100 osteoarthritic patients, pain gradually decreased over the length of the study, resulting in significant improvements in the treatment group. Decreased need for NSAIDS or COX-2 medications was found for the treatment group and increased for the placebo group3. In a third clinical trial, 156 patients were given Pycnogenol or placebo. After three months, the pain scores decreased from an average of 17.3 (maximum possible score of 20 representing severe pain) to 7.7; the placebo group had no significant changes. The stiffness score decreased from 6.6 (on a scale from 0-8) to 3.1, and joint physical function decreased from an average of 55.3 (on a scale of 0-68) to 23.8. The treatment group’s use of NSAIDS was reduced by 58%, and there were also significant decreases in gastrointestinal complications in this group, due to the reduced intake of NSAIDS4.

In pharmacological studies, this proprietary dietary supplement has been found to affect several different pathological processes of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis has a “master switch” in the inflammatory process, known as NF-kB, and Pycnogenol inhibits its activation by 15.8%. By inactivating NF-kB's effect, select immune cells are inhibited, leading to fewer MMP enzymes; this is advantageous, as these enzymes are responsible for degenerating the cartilage collagen in osteoarthritis. It also has been found to inhibit COX-enzymes in humans by approximately 15%; they are a major source of the joint pain in osteoarthritis.

Other studies on further anti-inflammatory mechanisms have found that Pycnogenol significantly inhibits the synthesis of COX-2 enzyme, as well as 5-LOX and FLAP enzymes. Interestingly, the gene expression of 5-LOX is inhibited by 75.5% in leucocytes after five days of the proprietary dietary supplement consumption5. Additionally, in a human clinical study, Pycnogenol was found to significantly lower the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) by 72% in osteoarthritis patients, as well as the production of reactive oxygen species by 30%6NS
For more information:
Natural Health Science Inc. * Hoboken, N.J.
Cheryl Costanza * 773-935-3628 *

1 Kovac, SH, et al. 2008. Arthritis Rheum. 59:227-33.
2 Farid R, et al. 2007. Nutr Res 27:692-697.
3 Cisar P, et al. 2008. Redox Rep.13:271-6. Phytother Res. 22:1087-92.
4 Belcaro G, et al. 2008. Phytother Res. 22:518-23.
5 Canali R, et al. 2008. Manuscript in preparation.
6 Belcaro G, et al. 2008. Redox Rep.13:271-6.