“Pycnogenol® has set a new benchmark for all nutritional ingredients and dietary supplements in terms of its versatile health benefits, safety data and research portfolio and stands the highest probability of becoming an undisputed industry standard in the near future”
-Frost & Sullivan
Consumer demand is on the upswing for unique functional foods and beverage products. This trend is fueling the drive for not only innovative but evidence based and safe ingredients to incorporate into new and existing product lines. Rightfully so, research and development seem to be taking a front seat to any other efforts as both consumers and companies come together on their priorities for safe and effective ingredients. As an industry pioneer, we take a look at Pycnogenol's® promising health benefits and intriguing science portfolio that sets it apart from other botanicals available in the marketplace today.
Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all) is a natural plant extract originating from bark of the French maritime pine tree which grows exclusively along the coast of southwest France. The ingredient represents a natural combination of genetically programmed constant proportions of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids which offer extensive natural health benefits.
Pine trees from which Pycnogenol®is produced are grown as a mono-species forest and located along the Bay of Biscay, between the vineyards of Bordeaux to the North and the Pyrenees Mountains to the South. This unspoiled and natural forest environment is the unique source of Pycnogenol®. The pine trees grow entirely without pesticides and no toxic solvents are used during production. It's an ideal botanical source because the extracted components are not subject to seasonal variations like most other plants, which is important for having a high batch-to-batch consistency of the products. Pycnogenol® is manufactured with the highest quality through a patented extraction process and has received Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP).
Pycnogenol® has four basic properties - it's a powerful antioxidant, acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, selectively binds to collagen and elastin, and finally, it aids in the production of endothelial nitric oxide which helps to vasodilate blood vessels.
Published findings in over 80 clinical studies on more than 7,000 patients have demonstrated Pycnogenol's® beneficial health effects in cardiovascular and circulatory health, joint health, skin care, blood glucose, eye health, respiratory health and sports nutrition, among others. With such versatile health benefits, the extract is available in more than 700 dietary supplements, multi-vitamins, cosmetic and functional food and beverage products worldwide.
Commitment to research
Horphag Research is the exclusive worldwide supplier of Pycnogenol®. Founded in Berlin in 1925, Horphag Research is a leading company supplying fortifying nutritional products and is a pioneer in the natural products industry. Over the last forty years, the company has invested millions of dollars in extensive scientific research and today Pycnogenol® is one of the most evidence-based health ingredients in the industry with over 230 scientific publications confirming its safety, non toxicity and clinical efficacy. Keeping in line with our commitment to science and innovation, comprehensive research and development programs continue to be carried out and new health applications for Pycnogenol® are explored every year in the fields of nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals and functional foods and beverages.
In recognition of Horphag Research's strong commitment to innovative research and development of Pycnogenol®, the company was awarded the 2008 Frost & Sullivan North American Health Ingredients Excellence in Research Award.
According to Frost & Sullivan analysts, "Pycnogenol® has set a new benchmark for all nutritional ingredients and dietary supplements in terms of its versatile health benefits, safety data and research portfolio and stands the highest probability of becoming an undisputed industry standard in the near future."
Just last year, Pycnogenol® introduced a joint health application after several clinical studies on osteoarthritis were published. With millions of people suffering from the debilitating symptoms of achy joints, there are countless possibilities for functional food and beverage applications for joint health.
Joint health application
Pycnogenol® was shown in a first clinical pilot trial to improve pain and symptoms in osteoarthritis at the University of Arizona Tucson [Farid et al., 2007]. Published in Nutrition Research, it was discovered that Pycnogenol® was effective for improving pain and joint function. After three months in the Pycnogenol® group, there was a reduction of 43 percent in pain, 35 percent in stiffness and 52 percent in physical function subscales, respectively. The placebo group showed no significant scores throughout the entire study. Subjects required significantly less NSAID or selective COX-2 inhibitors when taking Pycnogenol® and the number of days during which they required analgesics decreased as well.
In another study published in Phytotherapy Research, Pycnogenol® was shown to lower joint pain by 55 percent from baseline "severe" to moderately painful, improve physical function by 56 percent, joint stiffness by 53 percent and increase patients mobility almost three-fold
by 56 percent [Cisar et al., 2008]. Moreover, patients required 58 percent less standard pain medication, which greatly improved the gastrointestinal complications resulting from the pain medication by 63 percent.
A third clinical trial in Italy investigated Pycnogenol® for treatment of osteoarthritis in 156 patients reduced overall knee osteoarthritis symptoms by 20.9 percent and lowered pain by 40.3 percent [Belcaro et al., 2008]. The overall score, summarizing pain, stiffness and daily activities, improved statistical significantly by 20.9 percent in the Pycnogenol® group. Interestingly, the joint improvement achieved with Pycnogenol® persisted after intake of Pycnogenol was discontinued for four weeks. Furthermore, 38 percent of patients in the Pycnogenol® group required less NSAID's or other analgesic medication for joint pain.
Finally, a study published in the journal Redox Report, reveals Pycnogenol's® anti-inflammatory potency further to improving OA symptoms and pain was able to significantly lower plasma levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) [Belcaro et al., 2008]. The current study, a joint effort between Italy's Chieti-Pescara University and the University of Munster, Germany, investigated a subset 55 patients from a previous osteoarthritis study with 156 patients who had significantly elevated CRP levels. Treatment consisted of two tablets daily of either 50 mg Pycnogenol® or placebo. Blood specimens were drawn at baseline of the initial study and again after three-month treatment. Results showed that Pycnogenol® significantly lowered CRP from average 3.9 mg/L at baseline to 1.1 mg/L, reflecting essentially healthy levels. In the placebo group a marginal lowered CRP level was detected. Other blood parameters indicative of acute inflammation likewise decreased with Pycnogenol®, such as fibrinogen (lowered 37.1 %) and reactive oxygen species (lowered by 29.9 %).
Innovative food/beverage applications
Pycnogenol® has matured as a supplement ingredient and consumers globally are embracing the benefits of the product in functional foods and beverages. Approved applications for Pycnogenol® in functional foods and beverages include baked goods, breakfast cereals, breakfast bars, processed fruits and vegetables, jams and jellies, soft candy, chewing gum, margarine, sauces, fats and oils and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Many new functional beverage products with Pycnogenol® as an active ingredient are being introduced here in Europe and generating buzz due to their innovation. Most recently, Intelligent Killer® Beverages launched a line of five functional beverages formulated with 10-15mg of Pycnogenol® to achieve a number of different health benefits ranging from skin care to hangover remedy to free radical scavenger.
With such versatile health benefits and an impeccable science and safety portfolio, there are many options for Pycnogenol® in functional food and beverage applications. For more information, please visit www.pycnogenol.com.
Belcaro G et al. Treatment of osteoarthritis with Pycnogenol®. The SVOS (San Valentino osteo-arthrosis study). Evaluation of signs, symptoms, physical performance and vascular aspects. Phytother Res 22: 518-523, 2008.
Cisar P et al. Effect of pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®) on symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Phytother Res in print 2008.
Farid R et al. Pycnogenol® supplementation reduces pain and stiffness and improves physical function in adults with knee osteoarthritis. Nutr Res 27: 692-697, 2007.
Belcaro G et al. Variations in C-reactive protein, plasma free radicals and fibrinogen values in patients with osteoarthritis treated with Pycnogenol®. Redox Report 13: 271-276, 2008.