Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Maritime Pine Bark May Fight Muscle Loss

French maritime pine bark, in the form of an extract known as Pycnogenol, has previously shown success in fighting skin aging in research where it reduced wrinkles. However, wrinkles are not the worst part of aging, as symptoms such as muscle loss (sarcopenia) not only look unattractive, but threaten health and independence. Could Pycnogenol fight this symptom of aging too? A new study, published in September 2016, suggests that it can.

Source: Drow Male
Why is this so important, if we are told aging is normal? A physically inactive individual can lose as much as 8% of their muscle mass per decade from the age of 30, but exercise alone is still not enough to completely avoid this problem. Because it would eventually interfere with daily tasks, such as opening jars or climbing stairs, it is one of the greatest threats to your independence. Apart from your own independence, that of your wife, sister, or daughter, may be affected too, as women are usually the ones burdened with unpaid caring work. On International Day of the Girl, I must emphasise the importance of antiaging medicine (natural as well as the more technical stem cell therapies and BHRT) in women's liberation.

In this study, participants in their 70s, who had no (recognised) chronic illnesses but were experiencing muscle loss, took either 150mg of Pycnogenol every day or a placebo for 8 weeks. After these 8 weeks, those taking Pycnogenol showed greater muscular function and endurance in daily tasks: 71% improved in carrying 4-5 pound items compared to 23% in the control; 52% improved in climbing stairs vs 20% of control; and 38% improved in distance walked compared to 17% in the control group. Pycnogenol also reduced oxidative stress by 14%, which is one of the drivers of muscle damage and destruction. It reduced the amount of protein in the urine, which can indicate muscle damage, by 40%, and improved general fitness scores by 46%. Hand grip strength, another essential ability, was improved too. A very important observation was an improvement in the left ventricular ejection fraction, from an average of 53.2 to 55.4. The left ventricle is the area of the heart which pumps blood to the entire body, the right ventricle is smaller and only sends blood to the lungs to receive oxygen. This has an effect on all tissues, not just the muscles.

Pycnogenol most likely produced these benefits through its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effects, which protect against tissue damage, as described in this review. It is mostly made up of procyanidins and phenolic acids, which are two types of antioxidants recognised to be beneficial when included in a person's typical diet. Besides being an antioxidant, it may also double the production of our bodies' own antioxidants and regenerate vitamins C and E. Anti-inflammatory effects have been observed in people with asthma, lupus and sunburn (though sun protection is still important). Dilation (expansion) of the small blood vessels has been seen in patients with cardiovascular disease, where it is often too constricted.

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