Daily consumption of supplements containing extracts from French maritime pine bark may shorten the duration of the common cold and reduces the severity of sore throat, congestion, headache, coughing and sneezing, says a new study from Italy.
Scientists from Chieti-Pescara University report that supplementation with Pycnogenol within four days of the first symptom was found to significantly reduce the number of affected days, reduce the number of lost work days, and shorten the duration of all pillar symptoms including scratchy or sore throat, sneezing, running nose, cough, temperature and more.
"This new study finds Pycnogenol to be a safe and effective natural remedy to treat symptoms of the common cold, reduce the number of affected days and decrease complications from the cold without side effects," said Dr Gianni Belcaro, lead researcher of the study.
"The significant effect of Pycnogenol to treat nasal congestion and runny nose can be attributed to the extract's natural anti-inflammatory, anti-edema and antioxidant qualities and for its ability to improve blood circulation. These findings are supported by decades of research on Pycnogenol's ability to naturally boost the immune system."
According to the National Institutes for Health, Americans suffer 1 billion colds annually; this affects daily productivity costing each working adult an average of 8.7 lost work hours with an economic impact of nearly $25 billion.
Pycnogenol is extracted from the bark of the French Maritime Pine
Pycnogenol -- a combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids extracted from the bark of the maritime pine -- is included in more than 700 dietary supplements, cosmetic products and functional foods and beverages worldwide.
The anti-inflammatory and pain reducing effects of the extract may work by stopping two enzymes linked to inflammation.
Pycnogenol, extracted from the bark of the French maritime pine Pinus Pinaster, appears to inhibit the generation of the pro-inflammatory COX-2 and 5-LOX enzymes, according to results published in International Immunopharmacology.
Pycnogenol can actually decrease pain and reduce inflammatory conditions, as has been previously reported, by shutting down the production of specific enzymes involved with inflammation," said Dr Raffaella Canali of the National Research Institute on Food and Nutrition in Rome, Italy.
The ingredient has been the subject of scores of clinical studies suggesting benefits covering everything from cardiovascular, joint, cognitive and eye health to the relief of hay fever, PMS, tinnitus, hemorrhoidal pain and menopause symptoms.
Dr Belcaro and his co-workers recruited 146 generally healthy people aged between 25 and 65 to participate in their study. None of the participants had received a flu vaccination within three months of the study. At the first symptom of a cold, 70 participants elected to take the pine bark extract (100 mg per day) in addition to their preferred best management, while the other 76 took their preferred best management alone (the control group).
Results showed that, within four days of the first symptom, supplementation with Pycnogenol was associated with an average of 1.1 fewer days affected, and an average reduction in the number of lost work days of 0.12 days.
The pine bark extract was also associated with a reduction in the demand for additional treatments including nasal drops, aspirin + Vitamin C, antihistamines and aerosols, said the researchers.
"Supplementation with Pycnogenol affects symptoms of the common cold, improving clinical conditions and allowing a faster regression of in the worst days of follow up," wrote the researchers. "Even an improvement in symptoms for a day when achieved for millions of people may produce a significant reduction in cost. Pycnogenol, alone or in combination, may be an important option in these patients, considering its safety."
Mae Chan holds degrees in both physiology and nutritional sciences. She is also blogger and and technology enthusiast with a passion for disseminating information about health.