Dr Ronald Watson from the College of Public Health and School of Medicine at the University of Arizona, based this decision on the number of clinical trials that have been carried out using this supplement showing its benefits for improved cardiovascular health.
Indeed, various studies from a variety of countries have concluded that Pycnogenol helps lower blood pressure, reduce LDL cholesterol, improve microcirculation and prevent platelet aggregation, though nobody, as far as Watson knew, had actually put his theory to the test that diet and exercise would improve the supplements' results.
However, one theory he is testing is the effect of Pycnogenol in diabetics. As he pointed out, cardiovascular risk factors are greatly elevated in people with diabetes and heart disease is a major cause of mortality in this population.
Moreover, previous studies have indicated that type 2 diabetes patients had lower blood sugar and healthier blood vessels after supplementing with Pycnogenol.
Hence, Watson is at present looking at blood pressure, vasodilatroy and vasoconstrictory mediators and lipid profile in serum in response to supplementation with Pycnogenal.
He also said that researchers are looking into the the potential anti-inflammatory role of the supplement to see if it could be used in the future against the increasing prevelance of osteoporosis.
Frank Assumma, director of marketing for Natural Health Science (NHS) - a supplier of Pycnogenol - told NutraIngredientsUSA that one of the advantages of Pycnogenol is that it is already recognized as having many health benefits. He named its three main areas of use as: an antioxidant; its ability to boost the immune system and strengthens blood vessel walls and capillaries; its capacity to increase circulation and act against cramps.
This means that in different countries it is marketed to counter different problems. For example, Assuma said that in Japan Pycnogenol is used in beauty products for the skin and against PMT and cramps. However, he added that the fact it has so many applications has reduced its impact among consumers.
"The supplement is well known within the industry, but has a lower profile among consumers," he said. "We have therefore tried to focus on its potential to prevent strokes." To this end, NHS joined up with General Nutrition Centers (GNC) in June to bring a cardiovascular health supplement called PycnoQ10 - a blend of Pycnogenol and coenzyme Q10 - to the market.
Joint research conducted at Showa Medical University, Tokyo and the State University of New York suggested that a combination of Pycnogenol and CoQ10 protected 53 percent of blood lipids from oxidation; this was reduced to 30 percent when the ingredients were used separately.
The research demonstrated that the two antioxidant ingredients in PycnoQ10 work to protect and enhance the vascular system including blood vessel integrity, blood lipid values, circulation, blood pressure and platelet function.