Pycnogenol® Prevents Platelet Aggregation, A Leading Cause of Heart Attacks and Strokes


Washington, D.C., May 19, 1998 - Pycnogenol® may provide protection from heart attacks or strokes, especially for smokers or those with a family history of heart disease, according to a breakthrough study presented during the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting.

In the new study, Pycnogenol® French maritime pine bark extract significantly reduced platelet aggregation, a condition that occurs when the smallest blood cells stick together and form clumps in the blood. A clump of cells in a narrowed artery feeding a region of the brain can produce a stroke, while aggregated platelets in restricted blood vessels feeding the heart can lead to heart attacks. The cycle begins when the body experiences stress, whether it's from daily activities, smoking or even exercising. When stress results, large amounts of adrenaline are released. Adrenaline, a stress hormone, causes platelets to aggregate and this can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Pycnogenol® may benefit the entire cardiovascular system by preventing excessive platelet aggregation brought on by smoking and stress.

"Pycnogenol® serves as a natural shield, helping to prevent cell aggregation which would restrict the blood supply struggling to move through narrow arteries," said the study's author Ronald Watson, Ph.D., Professor, University of Arizona Medical School at Tucson. "Here's a completely natural substance with remarkable activity, producing effects within minutes. It may have enormous health implications for an aging population," Dr. Watson said.

A U.S. patent (#5,720,956) was recently granted based on the compelling research findings of Dr. Watson and the patent's inventor, Peter Rohdewald, Ph.D., of the University of Münster, Germany. The new patent shows, for the first time, that Pycnogenol® can inhibit platelet aggregation.

The study was conducted with a group of 38 healthy smokers at the University of Münster in Germany, and at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Volunteers were given a single dose of 100-120 mg of Pycnogenol® or 500 mg of aspirin®. Then they smoked to increase platelet aggregation and blood clumping during the two hours prior to having their blood drawn. Within 2 hours after smoking, participants were evaluated to measure the effects of Pycnogenol® or aspirin in reducing smoking-induced platelet aggregation. The study focused on smokers because it is easier to measure their dramatically increased clumping of platelets. The results showed that both the Pycnogenol® and the aspirin reduced platelet aggregation significantly. A single, smaller dose of the natural nutrient Pycnogenol® was as effective as a five times larger amount of the drug aspirin.

This is good news for the substantial portion of the population that cannot tolerate long-term aspirin use with its side effects, including increased bleeding and stomach problems. Pycnogenol® did not increase bleeding while aspirin did. Studies are now underway to assess the long-term effects of Pycnogenol® supplementation in non-smokers and smokers.

"While aspirin is currently recommended by cardiologists to prevent platelet aggregation, this research suggests that Pycnogenol® is efficacious and safer for people needing reduction in platelet aggregation," Dr. Watson said.

Dr. Watson's study is expected to be published in a peer-reviewed journal within a few months.

Pycnogenol® (Pik-NAH-je-nol) is a trademarked natural extract made only from the bark of French maritime pine trees. Pycnogenol® is an extract of water-soluble flavonoids containing a distinctive complex of more than 40 compounds. Years of research support its antioxidant properties and its ability to enhance the body's circulation.