God, Hope & Helping Others
Results of a new study suggest that Pycnogenol, an antioxidant extract derived from the bark of French maritime pine trees, may safely reduce the severity of symptoms associated with hay fever.
For the study, Canadian researchers randomly assigned 60 confirmed allergy sufferers to take a pill form of Pycnogenol or a placebo twice daily for the entirety of hay fever season. Patients in each group were allowed to use non-prescription antihistamines during the study period.
Throughout the course of the treatment, participants had blood taken and were asked to record the severity of their symptoms by filling out self-administered questionnaires.
At the conclusion of the study, the average nasal and eye symptom score for those taking the natural supplement was much lower than that of the control group. Furthermore, study group participants had significantly lower levels of IgE antibodies, which correspond to the severity of hay fever symptoms.
The investigators also found that only 12.5 percent of participants who were randomly assigned to take Pycnogenol felt the need to take non-prescription antihistamines during the study. In contrast, nearly 50 percent of those in the placebo group took allergy medications.
"For the many people seeking alternatives to conventional treatment for [hay fever], Pycnogenol may represent an effective and completely natural solution, void of any side effects" said lead author Malkanthi Evans.
Pine Tree Extract found to boost Memory in Senior Citizens
The French maritime pine tree extract, Pycnogenol, has also been shown to improve memories in the elderly. It was the researchers at the Centre for Neuropsychology at Swinburne University, Melbourne Australia who found that the extract had the power to improve both numerical working memory as well as spatial working memory in older adults. According to lead researcher Dr.Con Stough, the finding supports other studies that have shown that antioxidants may have an effect in preserving or enhancing specific mental functions. “These results support research from a range of disciplines that suggest that antioxidants may have an effect in preserving or enhancing specific mental functions. Cognitive research in this area specifically indicates that the putative benefits associated with antioxidant supplementation are associated with memory,” he said.
For the study, volunteers were asked to take a daily does of 150mg of Pycnogenol for three months. They were assessed on a monthly basis. The control and Pycnogenol groups were matched by age, sex, BMI, micronutrient intake and intelligence. The cognitive tasks for the study comprised measures of attention, working memory, episodic memory and psycho-motor performance. After analyzing blood samples, the researchers noted that in seniors taking Pycnogenol, a marker known as F2-isoprostanes significantly decreased. The same however was not seen with seniors in the control group, F2-isoprostanes develop by oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids, which are present in particularly high quantities in nerve cell membranes.
“The antioxidant Pycnogenol had beneficial cognitive and biochemical effects for elderly individuals. Participants in the Pycnogenol groups showed improvement relative to the controls with the effects becoming evident from the second to third months of the Pycnogenol treatment,” concluded Dr.Stough.