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Health News Archive 443 - Diabetic Complications
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Pine Tree Bark Reduces Diabetic Microangiopathy

Diabetic microangiopathy is responsible for major diabetic health complications, such as leg ulcers, kidney failure and retinopathy. It is imperative diabetics receive the best treatment to manage this condition. A study published in the September edition of Angiology shows that supplementing with Pycnogenol, an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French Maritime pine tree, significantly reduced diabetic microangiopathy (DM) in patients.

“Diabetic microangiopathy is not a rare phenomenon and essentially affects every diabetic person. The condition may result in vision loss in diabetic retinopathy, kidney problems and ischemic tissue necrosis causing leg ulcers which may lead to amputation,” said Dr. Gianni Belcaro, a lead researcher of the study. “With DM, the walls of very small blood vessels (capillaries) become so weak, bleeding and protein leaks occur, which ultimately slows down blood flow, resulting in blood clots and swelling of the limbs (edema).”

The study sampled 60 diabetic patients suffering from diabetic microangiopathy being treated with insulin for at least three years at the Chieti-Pescara University in Italy. In addition to their insulin treatment, patients received 150 mg of pine tree bark orally daily for one month. The control group, 50 percent of the sample, received a placebo. Measurements of blood flow were measured by laser Doppler.

Measurements were taken when patients were lying down and standing up. The capillary adaptation to increased pressure from lying down to standing is generally impaired, due to vessel failure and increase of pressure in capillaries for individuals who suffer from diabetic microangiopathy.

Results showed that when patients were lying down, pine tree bark treatment improved capillary blood flow by 34 percent, compared to 4.7 percent in the placebo group. When patient’s blood flow was measured in a standing position, pine tree bark treatment improved capillary blood flow by 68 percent, compared to 8 percent in the placebo group.

Capillary leakage was recorded by measuring ankle swelling, which develops ten minutes after passing from lying down to standing up. After pine tree bark treatment, swelling was 17 percent lower, compared to 2.6 percent in the placebo group.

“The rapid improvement of microvessel complication with pine tree bark in just four weeks is clinically remarkable,” said Dr. Belcaro, who has been a large part of previous Pycnogenol and diabetes related studies.

In July, a study Pine Bark Extract Speeds Up Diabetic Ulcer Healing, was published supporting diabetic foot ulcer treatment with Pycnogenol. Results revealed almost 75 percent decrease in ulcer size in patients who supplemented with both oral and topical Pycnogenol. Previous research supports pine tree bark treatment to be highly effective for prevention of diabetic retinopathy and to be effective in lowering glucose levels and increasing the health of blood vessels in patients with type II diabetes.

Source: Angiology; 2006, Sept.

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