Scientists have found that Pycnogenol, a natural plant extract from the bark of pine trees, can reduce jetlag symptoms by half. Pycnogenol is the patented trade name for a water extract of the bark of the French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster ssp. atlantica), which is grown in coastal southwest France.
Its properties were discovered in a study by researchers at the G. D'Annunzio University in Pescara, Italy and involved 133 passengers who took flights that were seven to nine hours in length.
The group were given 50 mg of oral Pycnogenol three times daily, for seven days, starting two days prior to the flight.
The two-part study consisted of a brain CT scan and a scoring system, which showed Pycnogenol lowered symptoms of jetlag such as fatigue, headaches, insomnia and brain edema (swelling) in both healthy individuals and hypertensive patients - passengers also experienced minimal lower leg edema, a common condition associated with long flights.
Jetlag, also called desynchronosis, is a temporary disorder that causes a variety of temporary mental and physical impairments as a result of air travel across time zones and is common in flights to Asia and Europe, but also observed in travelers between West and East coast.
It is caused by the body's inability to immediately adjust to the time in a different zone while travelling and temporary conditions such as insomnia, fatigue, irritability and an impaired ability to concentrate may set in as the body struggles to cope with the new schedule.
In the first part of the study 38 passengers were treated with Pycnogenol and compared with 30 control patients using a rating scale consisting of a scoring system which involved the most common complaints of jetlag - dehydration and loss of appetite; headaches and/or sinus irritation; fatigue; disorientation and/or grogginess; nausea and/or upset stomach; insomnia and/or highly irregular sleep patterns; irritability; irrational behaviour; alternation in mental performance (easy crossword); alternations in general wellbeing; hours of duration of any signs/symptoms; and nights of altered/disturbed sleep.
They were checked within 48 hours after the end of the flights and it was seen that the Pycnogenol group experienced a significant reduction of all jetlag signs and symptoms and the symptoms lasted only for an average of 18.2 hours in the Pycnogenol group as compared to 39.3 hours in the control group.
A second group of flight passengers, 34 Pycnogenol-treated patients and 31 controlled patients, were given a brain CT scan after the flight to assess brain alterations after flights.
Jetlag symptoms were evaluated using a rating scale providing scores according to the severity, performed within 28 hours from the end of the flight.
Sleep alterations, short-term memory alterations, disorientation, neurological signs/symptoms of instability, anxiety, minor cardiac alterations (heart rate, blood pressure), lower limb swelling, fatigue and other, a-specific signs/symptoms (cramps, joints/muscular pain, blurred vision, vertigo, mild sickness, increase in body temperature, appetite loss, headache, mild tongue swelling) were all significantly lower by in average 61.5% in the Pycnogenol group compared to the untreated control group.
Dr. Gianni Belcaro who led the research says this is the first study which showed diffuse subliminal swellings of the brain after long haul flights, which were reduced to less than half in the Pycnogenol group.
Dr. Belcaro says Pycnogenol was effective in preventing jetlag related effects without any side-effects and Pycnogenol is emerging as natural, yet safe option for long distance travelers.
Pycnogenol has been shown to be beneficial for flight travel in previous studies for edema, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and blood circulation improvement.
This particular maritime pine grows along the coast of southwest France and contains a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids, which offer extensive natural health benefits and has been widely studied for 35 years and the subject of more than 220 published studies and review articles ensuring safety and efficacy as an ingredient.
Pycnogenol is available in more than 600 dietary supplements, multi-vitamins and health products worldwide.
The study is published in the journal of Minerva Cardioangiologica - for more information, visit www.pycnogenol.com.