The entire non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) category of prescription and over-the-counter drugs is fraught with serious danger. Ibuprofen, for instance, is known to kill thousands each year, and is believed no less dangerous than Merck’s COX-2 inhibitor NSAID drug Vioxx which caused between 88,000-140,000 cases of serious heart disease in the five years it was on the market (1999-2004). Tylenol is so profoundly toxic to the liver that contributing writer Dr. Michael Murray recently asked in his Op-Ed piece, “Is it Time for the FDA to Remove Tylenol From the Market?” Just as serious are tylenol’s empathy destroying properties that were only identified four years ago. Given the dire state of affairs associated with pharmaceutical intervention for chronic pain issues, what can folks do who don’t want to kill themselves along with their pain? Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol) Puts Aspirin To Shame When it comes to aspirin alternatives, one promising contender is pycnogenol, a powerful antioxidant extracted from French maritime pine bark, backed by over 40 years of research, the most compelling of which we have aggregated on GreenMedInfo.com here: Pycnogenol Research. Amazingly, you will find research indexed there showing it may have value for over 80 health conditions. In 1999, a remarkable study published in the journal Thrombotic Research found that pycnogenol was superior (i.e. effective at a lower dosage) to aspirin at inhibiting smoking-induced clotting, without the significant (and potentially life-threatening) increase in bleeding time associated with aspirin use.
The abstract is well worth reading in its entirety: “The effects of a bioflavonoid mixture, Pycnogenol, were assessed on platelet function in humans. Cigarette smoking increased heart rate and blood pressure.
These increases were not influenced by oral consumption of Pycnogenol or Aspirin just before smoking. However, increased platelet reactivity yielding aggregation 2 hours after smoking was prevented by 500 mg Aspirin or 100 mg Pycnogenol in 22 German heavy smokers. In a group of 16 American smokers, blood pressure increased after smoking. It was unchanged after intake of 500 mg Aspirin or 125 mg Pycnogenol. In another group of 19 American smokers, increased platelet aggregation was more significantly reduced by 200 than either 150 mg or 100 mg Pycnogenol supplementation. This study showed that a single, high dose, 200 mg Pycnogenol, remained effective for over 6 days against smoking-induced platelet aggregation. Smoking increased platelet aggregation that was prevented after administration of 500 mg Aspirin and 125 mg Pycnogenol. Thus, smoking-induced enhanced platelet aggregation was inhibited by 500 mg Aspirin as well as by a lower range of 100-125 mg Pycnogenol. Aspirin significantly (p0.001) increased bleeding time from 167 to 236 seconds while Pycnogenol did not.
These observations suggest an advantageous risk-benefit ratio for Pycnogenol.” [emphasis added] As emphasized in bold above, pycnogenol unlike aspirin did not significantly increase bleeding time. This has profound implications, as aspirin’s potent anti-platelet/’blood thinning’ properties can also cause life-threatening hemorrhagic events. If this study is accurate and pycnogenol is more effective at decreasing pathologic platelet aggregation at a lower dose without causing the increased bleeding linked to aspirin, then it is clearly a superior natural alternative worthy of far more attention by the conventional medical establishment and research community than it presently receives. Not Just A Drug Alternative Pycnogenol, like so many other natural interventions, has a wide range of side benefits that may confer significant advantage when it comes to reducing cardiovascular disease risk. For instance, pycnogenol is also: Given the evidence for pycnogenol’s pleotrophic cardioprotective properties, we hope that pycnogenol will become more commonly recommended by health care practitioners as the medical paradigm continues to evolve past its reliance on synthetic chemicals, eventually (we hope) returning to natural, increasingly evidence-based interventions. However, it is important that we don’t fall prey to the one-disease-one-pill model, convincing ourselves to focus on popping pills – this time natural ones – as simply countermeasures or ‘insurance’ against the well-known harms associated with the standard American diet, lack of exercise and uncontrolled stress.
The ultimate goal is to remove the need for pills altogether, focusing on preventing cardiovascular disease from the ground up and inside out, e.g. letting high quality food, clean water and air, and a healthy attitude nourish and sustain your health and well-being. References  Ximing Liu, Junping Wei, Fengsen Tan, Shengming Zhou, Gudrun Würthwein, Peter Rohdewald. Pycnogenol, French maritime pine bark extract, improves endothelial function of hypertensive patients. Life Sci. 2004 Jan 2;74(7):855-62. PMID: 14659974  Gianni Belcaro, Maria Rosaria Cesarone, Andrea Ricci, Umberto Cornelli, Peter Rodhewald, Andrea Ledda, Andrea Di Renzo, Stefano Stuard, Marisa Cacchio, Giulia Vinciguerra, Giuseppe Gizzi, Luciano Pellegrini, Mark Dugall, Filiberto Fano. Control of edema in hypertensive subjects treated with calcium antagonist (nifedipine) or angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors with Pycnogenol. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost. 2006 Oct;12(4):440-4. PMID: 17000888  Sherma Zibadi, Peter J Rohdewald, Danna Park, Ronald Ross Watson. Reduction of cardiovascular risk factors in subjects with type 2 diabetes by Pycnogenol supplementation. Nutr Res. 2008 May;28(5):315-20. PMID: 19083426  Robert D Steigerwalt, Belcaro Gianni, Morazzoni Paolo, Ezio Bombardelli, Carolina Burki, Frank Schönlau. Effects of Mirtogenol on ocular blood flow and intraocular hypertension in asymptomatic subjects. Mol Vis. 2008;14:1288-92. Epub 2008 Jul 10. PMID: 18618008  Maria Rosaria Cesarone, Gianni Belcaro, Stefano Stuard, Frank Schönlau, Andrea Di Renzo, Maria Giovanna Grossi, Mark Dugall, Umberto Cornelli, Marisa Cacchio, Giuseppe Gizzi, Luciano Pellegrini. Kidney flow and function in hypertension: protective effects of pycnogenol in hypertensive participants–a controlled study. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Mar;15(1):41-6. Epub 2010 Jan 22. PMID: 20097689  Angelika Schäfer, Zuzana Chovanová, Jana Muchová, Katarína Sumegová, Anna Liptáková, Zdenka Duracková, Petra Högger. Inhibition of COX-1 and COX-2 activity by plasma of human volunteers after ingestion of French maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol). Biomed Pharmacother. 2006 Jan;60(1):5-9. Epub 2005 Oct 26. PMID: 16330178  Tanja Grimm, Angelika Schäfer, Petra Högger. Antioxidant activity and inhibition of matrix metalloproteinases by metabolites of maritime pine bark extract (pycnogenol). Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2011 Jan;40(1):103-6. PMID: 14990359  Tanja Grimm, Zuzana Chovanová, Jana Muchová, Katarína Sumegová, Anna Liptáková, Zdenka Duracková, Petra Högger. Inhibition of NF-kappaB activation and MMP-9 secretion by plasma of human volunteers after ingestion of maritime pine bark extract (Pycnogenol). J Inflamm (Lond). 2006;3:1. Epub 2006 Jan 27. PMID: 16441890  G Belcaro, M R Cesarone, S Errichi, C Zulli, B M Errichi, G Vinciguerra, A Ledda, A Di Renzo, S Stuard, M Dugall, L Pellegrini, G Gizzi, E Ippolito, A Ricci, M Cacchio, G Cipollone, I Ruffini, F Fano, M Hosoi, P Rohdewald. Variations in C-reactive protein, plasma free radicals and fibrinogen values in patients with osteoarthritis treated with Pycnogenol. Redox Rep. 2008;13(6):271-6. PMID: 19017467 Originally published: 2017-07-23 Article updated: 2019-04-11 Sayer Ji is founder of Greenmedinfo.com, a reviewer at the International Journal of Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, Co-founder and CEO of Systome Biomed, Vice Chairman of the Board of the National Health Federation, Steering Committee Member of the Global Non-GMO Foundation. Link to original article Greenmedinfo News.
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