French maritime pine bark extract has been shown to support healthy blood pressure, and a new study published in European Heart Journal provides more data to back this application. The extract increased artery dilation by 32% and significantly reduced plasma-8-isoprostaries. Overall, the antioxidant increased blood flow throughout the body.

In the study, 23 coronary artery disease patients took 200 mg of the French maritime pine bark extract (in the form of Pycnogenol from Horphag Research, based in Hoboken, NJ) daily for eight weeks. The protocol was followed by a two-week washout period and another eight-week period of placebo intake. A second group was given the same treatment in reverse order. Testing throughout the study monitored the flow-mediated dilation of arteries.

Overall, plasma-8-isoprostaries levels dropped from 0.71 to 0.66 on average, improving blood flow throughout the arteries. Plasma-8-isoprostaries are a marker of oxidative stress, which is known to promote endothelial dysfunction. Endothelial function or dysfunction directly relates to the progression of atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the arteries. Endothelial cells are the body’s first line of defense against coronary artery disease. While directing blood to the appropriate areas of the body, they help restore the body’s own functions in flow-mediated arterial dilation.

In addition, the extract group experienced a 32% increase in artery dilation; the placebo group’s stayed the same.

These study findings lead researchers to believe that French maritime pine bark extract may, in fact, be able to play a key role in the stabilization of cardiovascular health.

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, August 2012