Just as I was about to stop taking Pycnogenol, along comes a high quality study that convinced me to keep on using this supplement.
I have my suspicions about all supplements and have announced them here. My most recent previous article here shows that short list of those remaining in my favor.
But the journal Nutrition Research last month published a high-quality study that is keeping me on board. While I obtained the entire research report, only the abstract is free online.
This is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with parallel-group design. The study included 48 participants for 12 weeks.
The study is “Reduction of cardiovascular risk factors in subjects with type 2 diabetes by Pycnogenol supplementation.” The corresponding author is Professor Ronald Ross Watson of the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Pycnogenol (pic-noj-en-all) helped the people in the study in several ways. But what really grabbed my attention is that the average A1C of those participants who took Pycnogenol dropped 0.8 percent (those in the placebo arm — the control group — saw their A1C levels drop just 0.1 percent). Many of the oral medications that we take to control our blood glucose levels don’t work as well asPycnogenol.
Those people who took Pycnogenol in the study also got much better blood pressure results and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol numbers. The dose was 25 mg five times a day — just a bit more than the 100 mg pill that I take once a day.
Of course, the current study isn’t the first time that scientists have studied how Pycnogenol can help people with diabetes. The most relevant previous study also showed that Pycnogenol could bring down our blood glucose levels.
Pycnogenol is a standardized extract from the bark of the French maritime pine (Pinus maritima). It has significant antioxidant activity, primarily from phenolic compounds like catechin, epicatechin, and taxifolin and flavonoids like procyanidins.
One concern that I have with Pycnogenol is that it is a proprietary supplement. Horphag Research Ltd., an English company registered in the Channel Islands, is the exclusive distributor to the supplement companies that market Pycnogenol directly to us consumers. These supplement companies include Healthy Origins, GNC, Vitamin Shoppe, Solgar, Source Naturals, BioChem, and TwinLab. Still, proprietary formulas are exactly what all brands of our diabetes medications are.
The other concern that I have about Pycnogenol is that it’s so darn hard to spell. With luck I spelled it correctly each time I used its name here.
HealthCentral published an earlier version of this article.