Monterey Pine for a Healthier Heart?

Uses, Health Benefits, and More

Monterey pine forest
Monterey pine forest. Gary Crabbe/Age Fotostock/Getty Images

Monterey pine extract is a natural substance sold in dietary supplement form. Sourced from a tree native to parts of California and Mexico, Monterey pine has long been used medicinally by certain Native American tribes. Also known as Pinus radiata, Monterey pine is said to contain high amounts of antioxidants.

Uses for Monterey Pine

In alternative medicine, monterey pine is touted as a natural remedy for the following health conditions:

Additionally, Monterey pine is said to offer anti-aging benefits and help preserve memory.

Monterey pine extract is also an ingredient in Enzogenol®, a dietary supplement purported to enhance mental performance and protect against heart disease.

Benefits of Monterey Pine

Although it's long been used in traditional medicine, Monterey pine and its health effects have been tested in few scientific studies. Still, some research shows that the dietary supplement Enzogenol® (which contains a combination of Monterey pine extract and antioxidants, such as vitamin C) may be beneficial in the treatment of certain health problems. Here's a look at several findings on the potential benefits of Monterey pine:

1)  Heart Health

A combination of Monterey pine and vitamin C may help reduce risk of heart disease, according to a pilot study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2003.

For the study, 24 healthy adults took Enzogenol every day for 12 weeks. By the study's end, participants showed a significant improvement in several measures of cardiovascular health (including blood pressure and percentage of body fat).

In addition, a small study published in Free Radical Research in 2006 indicates that Enzogenol® may benefit smokers by reducing oxidative stress.

In an experiment involving 44 chronic smokers, those given the combination of Monterey pine and vitamin C for 12 weeks experienced greater improvements in oxidative stress (compared to those given vitamin C alone for the same time period).

2)  Brain Function

Enzogenol® may help fight age-related cognitive decline, suggests a small study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2008. For the study, 42 men (ages 50 to 65) were given either vitamin C or the combination of Monterey pine and vitamin C for five weeks. At the end of the study, those given Enzogenol® performed better on cognitive tests and showed a greater improvement in blood pressure (compared to those solely given vitamin C).

Caveats

Due to lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term or regular use of dietary supplements containing Monterey pine. However, because Monterey pine may lower blood pressure, it may have harmful effects when taken in combination with blood pressure medications.

In addition, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to Monterey pine.

If you show signs of allergic reaction (such as skin rash or eye irritation) after taking Monterey pine, discontinue use of this product immediately.

Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. You can get further tips on using supplements here.

Alternatives to Monterey Pine

Another dietary supplement made with pine extract, Pycnogenol® shows promise in the treatment of conditions like asthma and diabetes. However, it's important to note that research on the health effects of this supplement is fairly limited.

If you're seeking a natural remedy to help keep your blood pressure in check and boost your heart health, there's some evidence that garlicomega-3 fatty acids, and coenzyme Q10 may be helpful. Make sure to talk to your doctor before using any type of dietary supplement to help manage an existing heart condition.

Where to Find It

Sold in some natural-foods stores, drugstores, and stores specializing in dietary supplements, Monterey pine is also available for purchase online.

Using Monterey Pine for Health

Due to the limited research, it's too soon to recommend monterey pine as a treatment for any condition. It's also important to note that self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering using monterey pine for any health purpose, make sure to consult your physician first.

Sources

Pipingas A1, Silberstein RB, Vitetta L, Rooy CV, Harris EV, Young JM, Frampton CM, Sali A, Nastasi J. "Improved cognitive performance after dietary supplementation with a Pinus radiata bark extract formulation." Phytother Res. 2008 Sep;22(9):1168-74.

Shand B1, Strey C, Scott R, Morrison Z, Gieseg S. "Pilot study on the clinical effects of dietary supplementation with Enzogenol, a flavonoid extract of pine bark and vitamin C." Phytother Res. 2003 May;17(5):490-4.

Young JM1, Shand BI, McGregor PM, Scott RS, Frampton CM. "Comparative effects of enzogenol and vitamin C supplementation versus vitamin C alone on endothelial function and biochemical markers of oxidative stress and inflammation in chronic smokers." Free Radic Res. 2006 Jan;40(1):85-94.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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