Pycnogenol for Osteoarthritis Relief

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For people with the osteoarthritis (the most common arthritis form), a natural remedy known as Pycnogenol® may offer some relief of symptoms like pain and stiffness. A substance sourced from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, Pycnogenol® is thought to treat osteoarthritis in part by reducing inflammation.

Sold in dietary supplement form, Pycnogenol® is also touted as a natural treatment for conditions such as allergies, asthma, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

It's also said to possess anti-aging properties and to protect against heart disease.

Why Is It Sometimes Used for Osteoarthritis Relief?

Pycnogenol® contains procyanidins, a class of compounds with antioxidant effects. Preliminary research suggests that procyanidins may influence the body's inflammatory response. Since inflammation plays a key role in the development and progression of osteoarthritis, it's thought that Pycnogenol®'s anti-inflammatory action may aid in osteoarthritis management.

Research on Osteoarthritis

To date, only a small number of studies have evaluated Pycnogenol®'s effects in people with osteoarthritis.

These studies include a clinical trial published in Phytotherapy Research in 2008, for which 100 osteoarthritis patients took either Pycnogenol® or a placebo each day for three months. At the study's end, those treated with Pycnogenol® reported a greater improvement in pain symptoms, compared to those given the placebo.

What's more, members of the Pycnogenol® group reduced their use of pain medication during the treatment period, while members of the placebo group increased their use of such medication.

In another study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2008, osteoarthritis patients assigned to three months of treatment with Pycnogenol® also experienced a greater improvement in symptoms and a larger decrease in pain medication use (in comparison to those given a placebo for the same time period).

In addition, patients treated with Pycnogenol® were able to walk longer distances by the study's end.

Although these studies indicate that Pycnogenol® may be helpful in the treatment of osteoarthritis, it should be noted that a report published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews in 2012 determined that both studies were poorly designed. More research is needed to confirm their findings.

Caveats

Pycnogenol® is possibly safe when consumed in doses of 50 mg to 450 mg daily for up to one year, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH warns that Pycnogenol® may trigger side effects such as dizziness, gut problems, and mouth ulcers.

When improperly treated, osteoarthritis may worsen and lead to complications like stress fractures and pinched nerves. Therefore, self-treating this condition with Pycnogenol® and avoiding or delaying standard care is not advised.

Alternatives to Pycnogenol® for Osteoarthritis Relief

A number of other natural remedies may help ease the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis.

For instance, studies have shown that glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, avocado/soybean unsaponifiables, bromelain, devil's claw, and turmeric may help with osteoarthritis control.

Some alternative therapies may also benefit people with osteoarthritis. These therapies include massage and acupuncture. Additionally, taking up mind-body practices like yoga and tai chi may help reduce osteoarthritis pain and improve flexibility.

Because osteoarthritis is closely linked to chronic inflammation, it's possible that following an anti-inflammatory diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and in antioxidant-rich foods and may help manage osteoarthritis as well.

If you're thinking of using any type of alternative medicine (including Pycnogenol®) in the treatment of osteoarthritis, talk to your doctor for guidance in incorporating the remedy into your treatment plan.

Sources

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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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