Study supports use of French oak wood extract to complement PTSD therapy

By Adi Menayang contact

- Last updated on GMT

Italian researchers studied the effects of French oak wood extract on the PTSD symptoms of survivors of the Central Italy earthquakes. Above, Church of Sant'Antonio Abate collapsed in the historic center of Visso. Getty Images / Buffy1982
Italian researchers studied the effects of French oak wood extract on the PTSD symptoms of survivors of the Central Italy earthquakes. Above, Church of Sant'Antonio Abate collapsed in the historic center of Visso. Getty Images / Buffy1982

Related tags: Brain health, Antioxidant

Italian researchers explored the effects of French oak wood extract supplementation among earthquake survivors. They found a correlation between supplementation and improved symptoms of PTSD.

The study’s participants were individuals aged 25-49 who survived major earthquakes that happened in Central Italy in 2016 and 2017, all of whom had a well-defined, traumatic event with multiple fractures requiring surgery and at least three weeks of hospitalization.

To participate, the individuals filled a questionnaire that assessed post-traumatic stress disorder by answering yes or no to a list of symptoms associated with PTSD, for example “Reactive flashbacks, hallucinations;” “alarm reactions to loud noises, events;” and “difficulty sleeping.” Participants were included if they passed a certain score of the questionnaire.

Researchers found that supplemented participants were more likely to have less reactive flashbacks/hallucinations, alarm reactions and intense emotional distress, emotional numbness, and social disinterest and detachment compared to participants who did not take the supplement.

The French oak wood extract used in the study was a standardized version commercialized under brand name Robuvit, manufactured and distributed by Horphag Research. Leading the study was Dr. Gianni Belcaro, whose lab at the Chieti-Pescara University has extensively studied ingredients by Horphag, namely Robuvit and a French maritime pine bark extract called Pycnogenol.

These latest results were published​ in Oct 2018 in the journal Minerva Medica.

“The results of our preliminary, pilot registry show that symptoms of PTSD as well as the high oxidative stress-related to the condition can be controlled and improved using Robuvit as a supplementary management,”​ the authors wrote.

Antioxidant capability for mood, fatigue, concentration

Results from the current study complements previous studies that have found a link between supplementation of the antioxidant-rich Robuvit and brain-related benefits, according to Sebastien Bornet, VP of global sales and marketing.

In the past year, research from the same lab have linked Robuvit to improved sleep quality and mood​among insomniacs, reduced fatigue among patients with infectious mononucleosis​ (commonly known as mono), and reduced fatigue​ from ‘burnout’ at work.

“These new study results complements past research on Robuvit, and it can be applied to many situations where there is stress, like car accidents, or work in the military,”​ he told NutraIngredients-USA at the SuppySide East show in Secaucus, NJ, which wrapped up yesterday.

More research needs to be done on the potential mechanism of action, he added, but antioxidants may be the influencer. “There is a link between [feeling of] stress and oxidative stress,” ​he said.

A market for brain health supplements

The study protocol called for all participants to go through a standard PTSD management program. In this sense, supplementation was done go hand-in-hand with includes exposure therapy and psychotherapy.

Any mood-stabilizing drug intake among participants was stopped at least three months prior to enrolling in the study.

These results support a case for marketing Robuvit to nootropic (or brain health) product developers, according to Victor Ferrari, CEO of Horphag Research.

For successful nootropic formulation, “you can’t narrow it down to just one chemical substance,”​ Ferrari said. Robuvit is an extract that contains all the compounds found naturally in the plant, and the science continues to build around how individual constituents of the ingredient metabolizes into different things that benefit the human body.

Study details

Thirty-four individuals with a diagnosis of PTSD participated in the study. The participants chose which group they wanted to enter—either a supplementation plus standard management group or just standard management. Sixteen participants joined the supplements group while the remaining 18 only underwent standard management.

The supplement group took 300 mg of Robuvit per day over a period of four weeks. Researchers compared the questionnaire results before and after the four weeks.

Researchers also analyzed plasma free radicals to evaluate a connection between oxidative stress in the blood and symptoms of PTSD.

Participants who took the supplement exhibited a 54% reduction of inflammation compared to control groups, measured using a photometric system called Diacron, which reads reactive oxygen metabolites.

Source: Minerva Medica
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.23736/S0026-4806.18.05573-8​.
“Supplementation with Robuvit® in post-traumatic stress disorders associated to high oxidative stress.”
Authors: Belcaro, G., et al.

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