Citrus extracts show promise for heart health: pilot study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Obesity Osteoarthritis

Extracts from tree bark and citrus may boost the heart health and
improve weight management among people with osteoarthritis,
according to results of a pilot study.

Oral supplementation with the proprietary blend from Next Pharmaceuticals (NP06-1), who also sponsored the study, resulted in improvements in blood cholesterol levels and weight reduction in both overweight and normal weight subjects, according to results published in the open-access Nutrition Journal .

"In a placebo-controlled pilot clinical study, NP06-1 offered several potential health benefits in normal and overweight subjects with osteoarthritis of the knee," wrote lead author Julius Oben from the University of Yaounde I (Cameroon).

"These potential benefits include significant improvements in cardiovascular risk factors; namely lipid levels and blood pressure."

Approximately seven million people in the UK alone are reported to have long-term health problems associated with arthritis.

Around 206 million working days were lost in the UK in 1999-2000, equal to £18 billion (€26 billion) of lost productivity.

Study details Oben and co-workers recruited 40 normal and 40 overweight people with osteoarthritis of the knee and randomly assigned them to receive either NP06-1 or placebo for eight weeks.

The study was of a placebo-controlled, randomised, double-blind design.

According to the researchers, NP 06-1 is a proprietary blend of Next Pharmaceuticals Flavoxine and Citrofen branded ingredients.

It contains extracts of Phellodendron amurense Rupr.

tree bark (370 mg per day, standardised to a minimum of 50 per cent berberine), and extracts of Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck peel (370 mg per day, standardised to a minimum of 30 per cent polymethoxylated flavones (PMF)).

Significant reductions in triglycerides and LDL-cholesterol were recorded in both normal and overweight individuals receiving the tree bark, citrus blend, report the researchers.

Triglycerides fell by 18 and 14.5 per cent in the overweight and normal weight subjects taking the active supplement, respectively.

The authors also note significant reductions in the placebo groups.

LDL levels fell by a whopping 44 per cent in the overweight subjects (14 per cent in the placebo group), and by 17 per cent in the normal weight individuals (14.5 per cent in the placebo arm).

Levels of HDL cholesterol also changed, with a 3.9 per cent increase in the normal weight subjects receiving the tree bark, citrus blend, while overweight subjects receiving the supplement had an 11.8 per cent increase in HDL levels.

Weight loss was also observed in both groups, with the overweight group receiving the supplement lost an average of five per cent of body weight after eight weeks.

"In this pilot study NP 06-1 had a beneficial effect on cardiovascular risk factors; namely lipid levels, blood pressure and fasting glucose levels.

Administration of NP 06-1 was also associated with weight loss," they concluded.

The authors were affiliated with the University of Yaounde I (Cameroon), and America's Gateway Health Alliances, the University of Mississippi, and Next Pharmaceuticals Osteoarthritis supplements

The osteoarthritis supplements market is dominated by glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate, with estimated sales of $730m in the US in 2004.

Their efficacy is debated in the literature.

Glucosamine is extracted from the shell of crabs, lobster and shrimps, and also marketed by Cargill is a non-animal, non-shellfish derived product.

The ingredient is often used in combination with chondroitin sulphate, extracted from animal cartilage like shark cartilage.

Previous studies, including the $14m Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT), sponsored by the National Institute of Health, have reported positive results, while other have reported null results, leaving the subject cloudy in uncertainty.

Source: Nutrition Journal 7 :16 Open-access journal, article available here: "Phellodendron and Citrus extracts benefit cardiovascular health in osteoarthritis patients: a double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study" Authors: J. Oben, E. Enonchong, S. Kothari, W. Chambliss, R. Garrison, D. Dolnick

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