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    Pine bark extract Pycnogenol reduces prostate problems, say scientists

    Supplement outperforms medication in latest research

    The latest research has shown that supplementing with the pine bark extract Pycnogenol can help men suffering from prostate problems.

    A clinical study carried out in Italy found that men with an enlarged prostate saw improvements in their symptoms after taking Pycnogenol over a period of eight weeks. The results point towards a potential role for the pine bark extract in treating the symptoms of enlarged prostate – also known as Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH).


    What is an enlarged prostate?

    An enlarged prostate is common in men as they age, especially in those over 50. It is not the same as prostate cancer and is not life-threatening.

    When the prostate (a small gland between the penis and bladder) becomes enlarged, it places pressure on both the bladder and urethra, leading to various symptoms including:

    • Difficulty starting to urinate
    • Needing to urinate frequently
    • Inability to fully empty the bladder
    • Needing urination at night (nocturia)

    BPH can also lead to various complications, including urinary tract infections (UTIs). There is no definitive cause for prostate enlargement, though is thought to be due to alterations in male hormones with age. Oxidative stress (caused by free radicals) has been shown in other research to be linked to the development of BPH.

    What happened in the study?

    In the study, carried out by researchers at Chieti-Pescara University in Chieti, Italy, 75 men with Benign Prostaic Hypertrophy (BPH) were split into three groups, each taking one of the following every day for 8 weeks:

    • Pycnogenol 150mg – 22 men
    • Placebo – 27 men
    • Dutasteride (0.5mg) and finasteride (5mg) - 26 men
      (Dutasteride and finasteride are commonly prescribed medication for BPH)

    What was measured?

    Using a type of questionnaire (visual analogue scale), observational items such as frequency and urgency were measured.

    Ultrasound was used to measure remaining urine in the bladder after urination. A blood test was used to detect levels of oxidative stress.


    What were the results?

    Those who took the pine bark extract Pycnogenol had better results than those who took the placebo and those who took medication after 8 weeks in each of the following categories:

    • Ability to empty the bladder
    • Decreased urination frequency
    • Improved urine flow
    • Less straining during urination
    • Less nocturnal urination
    • Less urgent desire to urinate
    • Less intermittency (stopping and restarting urination)

    Measured by ultrasound, those taking Pycnogenol were able to empty more of the contents of their bladder versus both medication and placebo group.
    The blood test demonstrated a decrease of oxidative stress in those taking Pycnogenol, yet an increase in oxidative stress amongst both the control and the medication groups.

    What do the results mean?

    The results from the trial demonstrate pine bark extract Pycnogenol's ability to be effective in treating symptoms of an enlarged prostate, when compared to placebo and even compared to prescribed medication for the condition. The supplement, which is an extraction of maritime pine bark, is acknowledged for its properties as an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory.

    Pycnogenol has been widely studied for the past 40 years, featuring in more than 160 clinical trials and 420 scientific publications. In research, it has been linked to support circulation, skin, eye health, respiratory health, cognitive health and women’s health.