Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract may ease migraine discomfort: Study

By Danielle Masterson contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images grinvalds
© Getty Images grinvalds

Related tags: Pycnogenol, Pine bark extract, Migraine, Oxidative stress

Millions of Americans suffer from migraines, with the World Health Organization (WHO) pointing out that they are one of the top 10 most disabling medical conditions. Common migraine symptoms include throbbing pain, nausea, as well as sensitivity to light and sound.

Dr. Fred Pescatore, a Manhattan-based author and internist who specializes in nutrition,  said migraines are much more than just a headache, often interfering with daily life.  “More than 90% of those affected with migraine report that attacks interfere with their education, career or social activities. Pain relief medications are often prescribed to deal with these symptoms but many cause unwanted side effects.

Indeed, pill fatigue continues to push consumers toward more natural solutions, with more condition-specific natural products such as  Pycnogenol® emerging.

A new peer-reviewed  pilot study published in the Panminerva Medica ​journal found that daily supplementation with the French maritime pine bark extract, Pycnogenol, may aid in decreasing symptoms and the frequency of migraines.  

Pycnogenol  is a natural plant extract originating from the bark of the maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France. It contains a number of unique procyanidins, bioflavonoids and phenolic acids. The extract has been widely studied for the past 40 years and has more than 450 published studies and review articles that support its safety and efficacy as an ingredient.

This latest research on the French maritime pine bark adds to established science on Pycnogenol®’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, with Pascatore noting that the findings warrant further exploration. 

A number of factors could trigger migraines, including stress from the pandemic, on top of everyday stressors. 

“The cause of migraines is not fully understood, and a key contributing factor is oxidative stress. This imbalance of free radicals can cause damage to cells and may contribute to frequent migraines,”​ said Pescatore.

The study

The Italian pilot study tested 67 migraine and moderate headache sufferers for eight weeks. The participants were split into three groups:  a control group following standard management of oral magnesium, riboflavin and lipoic acid; a Pycnogenol test group that supplemented with 150 mg of Pycnogenol daily along with standard management; and another test group prescribed with the generic migraine medication, topiramate. 

Participants were asked to rank their migraine symptoms, and results showed that the Pycnogenol test group reported greater improvements of their migraine symptoms, including:

  • 61% decreased frequency of migraine attacks (vs 8% increase in attacks in the control group and 33% decrease in the topiramate group)
  • 39% easing of migraine-induced discomfort (vs 25% in the control group and 37% in the topiramate group)
  • 41% reduction in affected daily activities score due to migraine attacks (vs 15% in the control group and 33% in the topiramate group)

The researchers concluded “Pycnogenol used as prophylaxis appears to reduce pain and the number and severity of symptoms in moderate headaches in parallel with a reduction of oxidative stress.”

“This new research shows encouraging findings for migraine sufferers looking to manage their symptoms and address underlying factors that contribute to this condition,”​ said Pescatore. 

Horphag Research is the exclusive worldwide distributor for Pycnogenol, which is available in over 1,000 dietary supplements and health products worldwide. 

 

Source: Panminerva Medica 

2020 June;62(2):102-8 DOI: 10.23736/S0031-0808.19.03745-5

“Episodic primary migraine headache: supplementary prophylaxis with Pycnogenol® prevents attacks and controls oxidative stress”

Authors: M. Cesarone et al

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