A study discovered that Pycnogenol, a brand of nutritional supplement derived from French maritime pine bark extracts, can boost athletic performance. The study was carried out by a group of researchers from Chieti-Pescara University in Italy who used two types of athletic performances to determine the effects of the herbal extract upon athletic performance.
In the first part of the study, the group used a fitness protocol known as the Army Physical Fitness Test, which was first used by the U.S. Army and other armies in the world. The main exercises included in this test are push-ups, sit-ups, and a two-mile run. The fitness test is composed of doing as many sit ups and push ups as possible in two minutes. The study samples in this part of the study were composed of 147 men and women. The participants were then divided into two groups. Both groups were trained with the same general fitness training for eight weeks. Meanwhile, one of the two groups received an additional 100 milligrams (mg) of Pycnogenol per day other than the training. Furthermore, the researchers assessed the oxidative stress levels of the athletes with exercise.
Results in this part of the study revealed that those who were given Pycnogenol daily showed improvement in their two-mile running times more than the other group. In addition, they also exhibited an increase in the number of push-ups and sit-ups in comparison with the control group. Moreover, it was revealed that oxidative stress levels were significantly lower in the Pycnogenol group.
In conducting the second part of the study, the research team assessed 54 men with a mean age of 38 as they trained for a triathlon in four weeks. Among the participants, 32 of them were administered with 150 mg of pycnogenol a day in addition to their training, while the remaining participants belong to the control group that only received training.
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During the four weeks of study, even though the two groups improved in all three events of triathlon — swimming, biking, and running — the pycnogenol group more showed improvements than the control group. Moreover, the average total completion time of the pycnogenol group for the final triathlon was 89 minutes and 44 seconds, while the control group averaged 96 minutes and five seconds. The Pycnogenol group improved their times in the triathlon more than two times than the control group. Both groups experienced cramps and running pain, but the pycnogenol group recovered faster than the other group.
The researchers believe that Pycnogenol supplementation, with proper hydration, proper training, and nutritional attention may enhance athletic training and performances.
More on Pycnogenol
Pycnogenol is the pine bark extract that is obtained from the maritime pine tree called Pinus pinaster. It contains the antioxidant proanthocyanidins which protect against free radicals that damage cells that cause diseases like cancer. Aside from enhancing athletic performance, there are other health benefits that pycnogenol can provide. These include:
Cardiovascular health – Pycnogenol can benefit the heart health. A study published in the journal Biomedical Reviews showed that pycnogenol could cause the blood cells to relax, which makes the flow of blood through the blood vessels easier. In turn, this lowers blood pressure and hypertension and improve circulation and LDL cholesterol levels. (Related: Pycnogenol can help with heart disease, inflammation, and diabetes)
Asthma – Pycnogenol can improve the lung function and asthma symptoms of asthma patients, according to a study published in the Journal of Asthma.
Osteoarthritis – Because of its anti-inflammatory effects, pycnogenol improved the symptoms of osteoarthritis in a study published in Phytotherapy Research.
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