Finding natural products that work against dust mite allergies may be a challenge, but scientists may have proven that pine bark extract can help relieve the condition.
Clinical study on pine bark
Researchers from Italy’s University of Pescara have determined in a clinical trial of 76 allergic asthma patients that a maritime pine bark extract significantly reduces asthma symptoms.
The researchers gave Pycnogenol® – a patented extract from pine bark – to 76 patients allergic to dust mites. The patients suffered from asthmatic symptoms. They ranged in age from 25 to 45 years old. The researchers confirmed their allergies with provocation, and then split the patients into two treatment groups.
The first group was given 100 milligrams per day (50 mg twice a day) of the pine bark extract for six months. The patients also continued their corticosteroid inhalers (fluticasone propionate). The second group dosed with the same corticosteroid medications, but without the pine bark supplementation.
Among the group taking the pine bark extract, 55% was able to reduce inhaler doses over the treatment period and none of the patients had to increase their inhaler dosage. Among the second, no-supplemented group, 6% was able to reduce inhaler dose while nearly 19% had to increase their inhaler doses.
The researchers measured cough, wheezing and other asthmatic symptoms during the treatment period. The inhaler-only group’s symptoms did not improve while the pine bark-group’s symptoms improved considerably. The researchers also found that the Pycnogenol group’s average IgE titers (measures allergic response in the bloodstream) decreased by 15% while the inhaler-only group’s IgE titers increased by 13%.
The pine bark extract group also was able to reduce the use of salbutamol rescue inhalers to once every five days on average, while the non-supplemented group averaged once every two days of rescue inhaler use.
The researchers, led by professor of medicine Dr. Gianni Belcaro, concluded that the pine bark extract allowed improved asthma control among the patients. “This study gives promising news to asthma patients seeking natural ways to complement their medication in order to better control their asthma symptoms, and confirms that Pycnogenol® offers a natural solution that is not only effective but also safe,” Dr. Belcaro said.
Other research on pine bark confirms findings
Other studies have shown that Pycnogenol® can lower allergy symptoms. The research has also shown that Pycnogenol can reduce leukotrienes – mediators involved in inflammation responses – by reducing 5-lipoxygenase expression. Reduction of wheezing and reduced response to chemical irritants has also been shown in the pine bark extract research. Part of Pycnogenol’s benefit comes from its extraordinary antioxidant potency.
Pycnogenol® contains significant levels of procyanidolic oligomers – PCOs. These are polyphenol complexes of proanthocyanidins. Pycnogenol® can contain between 65% and 75% PCOs by content. PCOs have been shown to render an array of cardiovascular benefits and can speed healing of connective tissues because they support repair activities of collagen and elastin.
Belcaro G, Luzzi R, Cesinaro Di Rocco P, Cesarone MR, Dugall M, Feragalli B, Errichi BM, Ippolito E, Grossi MG, Hosoi M, Errichi S, Cornelli U, Ledda A, Gizzi G. Pycnogenol® improvements in asthma management. Panminerva Med. 2011 Sep;53(3 Suppl 1):57-64.
Adams C. Asthma Solved Naturally: The Surprising Underlying Causes and Hundreds of Natural Strategies to Beat Asthma. Logical Bks, 2011.
Case Adams is a California Naturopath and a Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and diplomas in Homeopathy, Aromatherapy, Bach Flower Remedies, Blood Chemistry, Clinical Nutritional Counseling and Colon Hydrotherapy. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies.