(Mar. 2, 2011) HOBOKEN, NJ The American Heart Association estimates 35 percent of adults in the U.S. suffer from metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors characterized by obesity and the simultaneous presence of heart disease risk factors with high blood pressure, blood sugar and lipids. In patients with metabolic syndrome, high blood pressure and blood glucose gradually impair kidney function, which in turn affects the organ’s ability to filter waste from the body. A study published in the June 2010 issue of Panminerva Medica reveals Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, demonstrates kidney health benefits in metabolic syndrome patients, with effective blood pressure control, reduced blood sugar, and further noticed lowered Body Mass Index (BMI) due to weight loss.
“Kidney damage is a common problem for people with metabolic syndrome due to the large number of cardiovascular rick factors involved. Similar to hypertension, there are no warning signs for suffering kidneys. Poor kidney function may further increase blood pressure, which in turn deteriorates the situation of the kidneys in a vicious circle” said Dr. Peter Rohdewald, a lead researcher of the study. “The results of this study demonstrate Pycnogenol®’s ability not only to control hypertension, but also to restore kidney function in those impacted by metabolic syndrome. Surprisingly, people taking Pycnogenol® not only demonstrated lower blood glucose levels, but also significant weight loss during the six months, yielding optimistic results for managing this condition.”
The controlled study carried out at the Nephrology Unit at the L’Aquila Hospital in Italy investigated 58 hypertensive patients who presented all of the criteria for diagnosis of metabolic syndrome, as defined by the World Health Organization: hypertension, high blood lipids, high fasting blood glucose and obesity. Furthermore, all patients showed early signs of kidney problems as judged by elevated amounts of proteins (albumin) present in their urine.
Patients were divided into two groups and instructed to follow a healthier lifestyle with dietary improvements, moderate exercise and effective management of health risk factors. Both groups were treated with anti-hypertensive medication Ramipril, taking a standard dosage of 5 mg twice a day, with one group of 31 patients taking Pycnogenol® in addition to the medication.
In the group taking Pycnogenol®, 50 mg Pycnogenol® tablets were taken three times a day at approximately 8 a.m., 4 p.m. and 10 p.m., a total dosage of 150 mg of Pycnogenol® per day. Urine was collected during a 24 hour period for quantification of the protein albumin in the urine at baseline and again after six months of treatment. Fasting blood was drawn for standard blood analysis. Systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate were monitored in the morning.
The study also shows Pycnogenol® is effective for improving blood pressure in patients with metabolic syndrome. The study found that taking Pycnogenol® as an adjunct to Ramipril significantly further lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure as compared to the group taking Ramipril alone. While average blood pressure in the Ramipril group was lowered to borderline-high 128.2/90.2 mmHg, the values in the group taking Pycnogenol® with Ramipril reached essentially normal values (122.2/85.3 mmHg) after six months of treatment.
Kidney function improved in both groups as judged by a significant reduction of protein detected in collected urine. With Ramipril alone, urinary protein decreased by 22 percent and with the addition of Pycnogenol® it decreased by 52.7 percent. Further, the group taking Pycnogenol® had a lowered fasting blood glucose level, which was reduced from high average value 135.6 mg/dL at baseline to reach essentially healthy reference value 102.3 mg/dL after six months of treatment. Pycnogenol® also led to a remarkable improvement of blood flow velocity of the kidney arteries. Blood flow velocity in the kidneys significantly increased with Ramipril from systolic 17.2 to 23.8 cm/sec and diastolic 4.2 to 2.0 cm/sec. The addition of Pycnogenol® was more effective, improving blood flow from systolic 18.2 to 27.2 and diastolic 4.1 to 9.8 cm/sec.
Only the group taking Pycnogenol® was found to have significantly lost weight after six months as compared to baseline, from average BMI 26.5 to 25.0.
“The number of people affected by metabolic syndrome is ever increasing and kidney disease is a growing concern. Pycnogenol® cannot compensate for an unhealthy lifestyle, but certainly offers some urgently needed help. Our study suggests that essentially all major characteristics of metabolic syndrome are improved with Pycnogenol as part of a healthier lifestyle.” said Dr. Rohdewald.
This preliminary evaluation shows Pycnogenol® to offer a natural solution for individuals with metabolic syndrome, particularly for kidney protection. Previous studies have shown Pycnogenol® as a supplement to anti-hypertensive medication further improves kidney flow and kidney function. Pycnogenol® has also been shown in several studies to lower blood glucose in diabetic patients.