June 27, 2011

Pine Bark For Your Heart?

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Could pine bark be good for your heart? A new study shows taking a combination of supplements that contain a plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree can naturally strengthen patients' hearts.

Researchers found the combination of Pycnogenol (which contains the pine bark) and Coenzyme Q10 increases the blood volume ejected with each heartbeat in stable heart failure patients who undergo medical therapy. Investigators called the combination supplement "PycnoQ10." They also found blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rates improved among patients taking the combination supplement.

"Many conditions that lead to heart failure cannot be reversed, but heart failure can often be medically managed with good results," Dr. Gianni Belcaro, a lead researcher of the study, was quoted as saying. "This study shows that a combination of Pycnogenol and CoQ10 offers an effective, natural solution as adjunct for heart health management."

The 12-week study included 53 patients between ages 54 and 68 who had mild to moderate high blood pressure and stable congestive heart failure. All the patients were prescribed heart medication, and most of them used three or more drugs for heart failure treatment.

The patients were divided into two groups. One group received capsules with a combination of 15 mg Pycnogenol and 50 mg CoQ10 (the PycnoQ10 group). The second group received placebo capsules in addition to their prescription meds. They were all instructed to take seven capsules, in the morning after breakfast, each day.

Results showed systolic and diastolic blood pressure was lowered from 139.2 to 133.2 mmHG and 82.3 to 77.3 mmHG in the PycnoQ10 group compared to 140.3 to 139.4 mmHG and 83.4 to 81.2 mmHG in the placebo group. Heart rate was also lowered from 78.4 to 74.2 beats per minute in the PycnoQ10 group compared to 79.1 to 78.4 in the control group.

The physical ability of patients in the PycnoQ10 group also improved. They had a 3.3-times longer walking distance on a treadmill compared to just a marginal improvement in the control group.

"Coenzyme Q10 has been extensively researched for its ability to strengthen the heart muscle, specifically in patients with heart failure. Preclinical trials have suggested that Pycnogenol strengthens heart chamber walls and dilates arteries," Dr. Belcaro said. "These preliminary observations suggest that the respective contributions of Coenzyme Q10 and Pycnogenol in PycnoQ10 may significantly improve heart health."

SOURCE: Panminerva Medica, June 2011