According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, about half of the U.S. population will have hemorrhoids by the age of 50. While the most common prescription to treat hemorrhoids is over-the-counter remedies, most patients do not report symptoms of acute hemorrhoidal attacks to their doctor until they are in severe distress, including bleeding. A study published in a recent issue of Phytotherapy Research reveals Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, has important anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic properties that may be beneficial in patients with hemorrhoids, both for acute and chronic treatment, and in preventing new attacks.
"Topical medications, lifestyle changes and careful hygiene are all that is needed for most patients to control symptoms of hemorrhoids," said Professor Peter Rohdewald, a co-author of the study. "In this study, both topical and oral Pycnogenol® treatment reduced the intensity and duration of hemorrhoidal pain and bleeding. Pycnogenol® even reduced the number of procedures and hospital admissions caused by severe cases."
The randomized, controlled study conducted by G D'Annunzio University in Italy investigated 84 patients suffering from an acute episode of external hemorrhoids, lasting 24 to 48 hours prior to inclusion in the study. The most frequently observed signs and symptoms, including hemorrhoidal bleedings, severe perineal pain and intravascular thrombus, were evaluated during the study period of two weeks. Patients were randomly allocated to one of three treatment groups, as follows: Treatment of Group 1 consisted of initial 300 mg of Pycnogenol® tablets daily for four days, followed by 150 mg per day for the following three days; Group 2 received the same treatment as Group 1, plus 0.5% Pycnogenol® topical cream; and Group 3 was a placebo treatment group. Symptoms of hemorrhoidal attacks were assessed, and duration of peak pain was observed and recorded, from the initial signs and symptoms to the disappearance of severe, incapacitating pain.
Results were measured by monitoring the following: variation in signs and symptoms (bleeding severity, acute intravascular thrombus, severe perineal pain, tenderness); quality of life parameters (impairment in walking, standing, sitting, embarrassment or social withdrawal); duration of peak pain time, and the costs associated with lost working days.
The complication of hemorrhoidal bleedings was completely absent in the Pycnogenol® groups after seven days and thereafter, while it was still observed in the placebo group during two weeks of follow up. Results for quality of life parameters confirmed a significant improvement in social functions by using Pycnogenol® orally, with the important added benefit of a topical application of Pycnogenol®. Results also confirmed the duration of peak pain was significantly lower in the combined oral plus topical Pycnogenol® group. Finally, there was a decrease in the number of lost working days, as well as a decrease in the recurrence of complications and overall treatment costs the month following in both Pycnogenol® groups.
Results showed that Pycnogenol® significantly lowered acute peri-anal pain using a grading scale ranging from 0 to maximum 4 from an average 3.2 at baseline to 0.8 in Group 1, an average 3.3 at baseline to 0.3 in Group 2, and an average 3.4 at baseline to 1.2 in Group 3. The scores progressively decreased in all groups during the two-week observation period. The decrease in symptoms was significantly higher in the Pycnogenol® groups as compared to the control group showing the efficacy of Pycnogenol® in relieving the signs and symptoms of acute external hemorrhoids.
"This study clearly indicates that Pycnogenol® is an effective, natural solution in controlling this common, disabling problem and may contribute to relieve hemorrhoidal attacks and offer pain relief," said Professor Rohdewald. "Individuals never affected by hemorrhoids cannot imagine what people go through. Hemorrhoids can affect every aspect of your daily routine; it represents a tragedy most people don't realize. Our study suggests that Pycnogenol® may help with all major symptoms. Further studies with Pycnogenol® are in progress investigating preventative effects for new attacks and in the general management of hemorrhoids."
Pycnogenol® dietary supplements are readily available in health food stores, grocery stores or on the Internet but a topical formula specifically for hemorrhoids is in the development phase while additional research is ongoing.
SOURCE Natural Health Science Inc.