Pycnogenol: Antioxidant Superstar? (Part 2)

By Amy Campbell | August 13, 2007 12:13 pm

Last week, we took a closer look at a powerful, but lesser known, antioxidant called Pycnogenol. While this supplement may be new to you, it’s actually been fairly well studied. In fact, more than 220 published studies and articles focus on Pycnogenol.

We’ve learned that Pycnogenol may play a role in helping to improve both diabetes and blood pressure control. This week, we’ll see how Pycnogenol may help with two other common health problems: deep vein thrombosis and asthma.

Leg Clots
If you’re a frequent flier, no doubt you’ve heard that flying can increase your risk of developing blood clots in your legs (called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, for short). Being immobile for long periods of time, as well as low cabin pressure, prevents blood from circulating easily, and can cause swelling in the feet and legs. This condition sets the stage for DVT. If a blood clot forms in your legs, pieces may break off and travel to the lungs, leading to a life-threatening pulmonary embolism. The good news is that taking Pycnogenol may lower your chances of getting DVT. In a study published in 2004, 198 people were given 200 milligrams of Pycnogenol before an eight-hour flight, and 300 milligrams of Pycnogenol during and after the flight. The control group was given placebo pills. The control group had five thrombotic events, while a few people in the Pycnogenol group showed only some localized phlebitis.

Asthma
Pycnogenol apparently has some anti-inflammatory properties, too. Twenty-six adults with asthma were given up to 200 milligrams of Pycnogenol daily for four weeks and then went on to a placebo regimen for the next four weeks. Twenty-two of the adults showed a positive response to Pycnogenol compared to the placebo. In another study, children with asthma who were given Pycnogenol showed improvement in lung function and a decrease in symptoms.

Pycnogenol has few reported side effects, making this a very safe supplement. However, it might interact with blood pressure, diabetes, and blood-thinning medicines. Therefore, always tell your health-care team about any and all dietary supplements that you’re taking.

The recommendation is to take no more than 50 milligrams of Pycnogenol three times daily. Also, check your blood glucose levels a little more often than usual if you decide to take Pycnogenol or any kind of supplement to see how they are affected.

You can find more information on Pycnogenol at www.pycnogenol.com.

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Amy Campbell: Amy Campbell is the author of Staying Healthy with Diabetes: Nutrition and Meal Planning and a frequent contributor to Diabetes Self-Management and Diabetes & You. She has co-authored several books, including the The Joslin Guide to Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association’s 16 Myths of a “Diabetic Diet,” for which she received a Will Solimene Award of Excellence in Medical Communication and a National Health Information Award in 2000. Amy also developed menus for Fit Not Fat at Forty Plus and co-authored Eat Carbs, Lose Weight with fitness expert Denise Austin.

Amy earned a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Simmons College and a master’s degree in nutrition education from Boston University. In addition to being a Registered Dietitian, she is a Certified Diabetes Educator and a member of the American Dietetic Association, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators. Amy was formerly a Diabetes and Nutrition Educator at Joslin Diabetes Center, where she was responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of disease management programs, including clinical guideline and educational material development, and the development, testing, and implementation of disease management applications. She is currently the Director of Clinical Education Content Development and Training at Good Measures. Amy has developed and conducted training sessions for various disease and case management programs and is a frequent presenter at disease management events.

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