Recent findings published in the journal of Clinical and Applied Thrombosis/Hematosis show a significant symptom reduction of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) in patients after supplementing with Pycnogenol, an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree.
Over 35 years of research on Pycnogenol. demonstrate the antioxidant's ability to improve blood flow and strengthen venous walls. Published results from this study showed Pycnogenol. to be more effective in reducing edema (leg swelling), tight calves, skin alterations, pain during walking and swelling limbs than Daflon., a combination of diosmin and hesperidin and a commonly prescribed drug used to treat CVI.
About 500,000 people in the United States develop leg ulcers due to CVI. If left untreated, leg and ankle swelling can lead to dangerous conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Previous studies have shown Pycnogenol. to be effective in encouraging improved circulation and helping to prevent travel-related DVT. Like varicose veins, spider veins also develop if edema is left untreated.
"Chronic venous insufficiency is caused when leg veins cannot pump enough blood back into the heart. When people are not active, blood pools in their leg veins, legs and ankles can become swollen," said Peter Rohdewald, Ph.D. and researcher of the study. "Eventually, some of the valves cannot hold the weight of excessive blood, which then adds more pressure onto the next valve further downwards. Ultimately, the inability to prevent the liquid in the blood from seeping into the tissue is what causes edema, a common condition of CVI."
Researchers at L'Aquila University in Italy conducted a comparative analysis by supplementing 86 patients with severe CVI with Pycnogenol. and Daflon.. Each group supplemented daily for eight weeks. Patients who supplemented with Pycnogenol. received either 150 mg or 300 mg, while Daflon. patients supplemented with 1000 mg.
Ankle swelling was measured before 10 a.m. to avoid the swelling effect of standing and again after 30 minutes of resting with feet elevated. Measurements were taken at the beginning of the study and after four and eight weeks of treatment. A composite, analogue score based on signs and symptoms (edema, pain, restless limbs, subjective swelling, and skin alterations/redness) was recorded by patients. A second evaluation of edema was made by another physician.
After eight weeks of treatment, patients who supplemented with Pycnogenol. experienced decreased ankle swellings by 35 percent, while Daflon treatment decreased ankle swelling by 19 percent. A composite score for edema including pain, restless legs, feeling of heavy swollen legs, and skin alterations was found to be decreased with Pycnogenol. by 64%, whereas Daflon. was only half as effective, lowering the composite edema score by 32%.
The transdermal oxygen and carbon dioxide concentration in the lower legs was estimated with small sensors attached to the skin. Pycnogenol. treatment was found to significantly increase tissue oxygen and lower CO2, suggesting a considerable improvement in blood circulation to the legs. Daflon., in contrast, did not yield any significant effect on the tissue oxygenation and apparently does not improve blood circulation to the legs.
"Interestingly, this study demonstrated that supplementation with a very high dosage of 300 mg Pycnogenol. a day did not yield significantly better effects than treatment with 150 mg Pycnogenol., with the exception of the composite edema score, which improved better with the higher dosage," said Rohdewald.
Continuous stretching from CVI permanently enlarges veins. Past studies have shown that treating edema with Pycnogenol. prevents the development of spider veins. Pycnogenol. also helps prevent existing spider veins from getting larger and more prominent. When edema is successfully treated, the increased pressure on veins gets normalized, preventing the veins from further increasing in size.
"Pycnogenol. has demonstrated its efficacy and safety in several clinical trials and symptoms of CVI have been reduced significantly by Pycnogenol. in controlled studies. We were pleased to see that not only did Pycnogenol. decrease CVI symptoms, but the results were significantly more successful then the prescription drug used for treating CVI," said Rohdewald.