Daily supplements of French maritime pine bark extract may ease tinnitus, a result that offers hope to the estimated 15m Americans who consider their tinnitus to be a serious problem.
According to findings published in the peer-review journal Panminerva Medica, daily supplements of the branded ingredient Pycnogenol may improve blood flow to the inner ear and therefore relieve tinnitus symptoms.
Tinnitus is a condition where the sufferer perceives a sensation of sounds without actual external source of sound. More than 50 million Americans will experience some degree of tinnitus in their lifetime, according to the American Tinnitus Association.
“Impaired blood flow to the ear is a common cause for tinnitus, a disturbing and very debilitating condition that can considerably impact overall health and quality of life,” said study leader Dr Gianni Belcaro from Chieti-Pescara University in Italy.
“With few options available for treatment, this study gave us the opportunity to explore a natural solution to tinnitus symptoms and its causes.”
The study involved 82 patients aged between 35 and 55. Parentis were randomly assigned to receive 100 or 150 milligrams per day of Pycnogenol, or no intervention, for four weeks. The participants were classified as having mild-to-moderate tinnitus in only one ear, while the other remains unaffected.
Using high resolution ultrasonography imaging to measure blood flow in the inner ear, Dr Belcaro and his co-workers report that both doses of Pycnogenol improved blood systolic and diastolic blood flow velocities from 14.3 and 4.22 cm/sec in the 100 mg per day group to 21.2 and 8.23 cm/sec, and from 13.2 and 3.2 cm/sec in the 150 mg per day group to 24.3 and 12.5 cm/sec, respectively.
In addition, the researchers used a Subjective Tinnitus Scale (STS) to evaluate the symptoms of tinnitus. Results showed a decrease from an average of 8.8 in the pine bark groups to 5.2 and 3.3 in the low and high dose groups, respectively. No changes were observed in the control group, they added.
“These results suggest that in selected patients with tinnitus and altered perfusion, Pycnogenol is effective in a short period of time in relieving tinnitus symptoms by improving cochlear blood flow,” wrote the researchers.
“The effect is more pronounced with higher Pycnogenol dosage. More studies should be planned to better evaluate the pathology and potential applications of Pycnogenol in a larger number of patients who are currently without a real therapeutic solution,” they concluded.
Source: Panminerva Medica
Volume 52, (2 Suppl 1), Pages 63-68
“Improvement in cochlear flow with Pycnogenol in patients with tinnitus: a pilot evaluation”
Authors: M.G. Grossi, G. Belcaro, M.R. Cesarone, M. Dugall, M. Hosoi, M. Cacchio, E. Ippolito, P. Bavera