The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    No effect of pine bark extract on cardiovascular disease risk

    Pine bark extract is a dietary antioxidant supplement.

    In this study, researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine, in California, attempt to correct past studies that they consider flawed.

    First, the details.

    • 130 people with increased cardiovascular disease risk were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
      • 200 mg of a water-based extract of pine bark (marketed as Flavagenol in Japan) once per day
      • Placebo
    • Blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease risk factors were measured at the start of the study and at 6 and 12 weeks.

    And, the results.

    • Over 12 weeks of treatment the sum of systolic and diastolic blood pressures decreased 1 mmHg with pine bark extract and 2 mmHg with placebo — not a significant difference.
    • There was also no difference in body mass index, cholesterol and liver enzyme levels, and levels of insulin, lipoprotein(a), fasting blood sugar, and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (reflects ongoing inflammation).
    • There were no subgroups of people for whom pine bark extract altered cardiovascular disease risk factors.

    The bottom line?

    The authors concluded, “This pine bark extract (at a dosage of 200 mg/day) was safe but was not associated with improvement in cardiovascular disease risk factors.”

    Looking at the big picture, the authors state further, “Our results are consistent with a general failure of antioxidants to demonstrate cardiovascular benefits.”

    Over the past decade, a series of positive studies of pine bark extract have been published. Many can be reviewed here, and another reporting a positive effect on cardiovascular risk factors is here.

    The Stanford researchers tell us that past studies were poorly designed. However, many of these studies also used Pycnogenol, a specific brand of pine bark extract that’s produce using a different extraction process.

    It’s unclear what effect this might have had on study outcomes.

    9/28/10 20:39 JR

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