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New Study: Pycnogenol(r) Increases Endurance During Exercise by 21 Percent
November 17, 1998, LaGrange, IL -- A new study to be presented Nov. 21 at an international scientific conference shows that an unlikely source, bark from a special pine tree in France, increases endurance time by 21% in both men and women during exercise.
The source, Pycnogenol(r) brand French maritime pine bark extract is a natural supplement that enhances performance because of its antioxidant and circulatory benefits. It is a water-soluble antioxidant and is among the non-steroid family of natural products used in endurance training.
The study will be presented by two experts on the subject, a California internist and a researcher in exercise physiology. They will present their study at the 5th Annual Meeting of the Oxygen Society in Washington, D.C.
"Pycnogenol(r) protects against oxidative damage caused when free radicals form during periods of exertion much like lemon juice prevents a cut apple from turning brown when it's exposed to air," said Paul Pavlovic, M.D., Ph.D., an Internist in Paradise, CA. "The added bonus is that athletes, whether professionals or weekend warriors, are likely to improve their performance because the key components within the body are protected and can function more efficiently.
"It's been said that oxygen is a 'dangerous friend' -- we need it to survive, but too much can be harmful. The same can be said for exercising," Dr. Pavlovic explained. "While it's imperative that we do physical activity to maintain good health, we must also manage the increased production of free radicals created during exercise.
This increase may lead to oxidative damage in muscle, blood, liver, and other tissues. This damage could potentially counter the effect of even a moderate training program by reducing the muscle's ability for repair," he said.
Dr. Pavlovic conducted his research with David Swanson, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Exercise Physiology at California State University at Chico. In the study, 24 healthy men and women were randomized into two treatment arms of this double-blind crossover study design. Group 1 was given Pycnogenol(r) (100 mg 2 times daily) for 4 weeks followed by placebo for 4 weeks. Group 2 was given placebo for 4 weeks, followed by Pycnogenol(r) for 4 weeks. A baseline control test preceded each group study.
The subjects were asked to refrain from using supplemental antioxidants during the study period. Endurance was determined as the time it took to exercise at 85% maximum capacity to exhaustion on a treadmill.
Researchers found that Pycnogenol(r) significantly increased endurance by 21% compared to the control. When the researchers looked at the ability of Pycnogenol(r) to protect against oxidative damage, a protective effect was observed. Protection of tissues from oxidative damage may help facilitate training efforts, which could explain in part the improvement in endurance, Dr. Pavlovic said.
This study builds on earlier research showing Pycnogenol(r) is an excellent scavenger of free radicals. Lester Packer, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, recently published a paper showing that Pycnogenol(r) is a powerful antioxidant because its protective activity stems from the synergy among the many elements of its complex composition and not from individual components.
Other research has shown that Pycnogenol(r) inhibits stress or exercise-induced platelet aggregation, which keeps clots from forming in the blood vessels for improved blood flow. Clinical studies have shown that Pycnogenol(r) can strengthen capillaries helping delivery of important energy nutrients to the muscles.
Pycnogenol(r) has been tested extensively for safety and has been used therapeutically in Europe for more than 20 years.
VERIS Research Information Service is a not-for-profit organization that strives to provide a responsible source of information on the role of nutrition in health, with emphasis on antioxidants, to health professionals, researchers, and health and nutrition educators/communicators worldwide. Visit http://www.veris-online.org for current research findings on Pycnogenol(r) and other antioxidants.