Results of a newly released study suggest that the antioxidant pycnogenol, a plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, is capable of counteracting kidney damage caused by high blood pressure, decreasing urinary problems and improving blood flow to the kidneys.
In the study, researchers from the Gabriele D’Annunzio University in Italy divided 55 hypertensive patients who showed early signs of impaired kidney function into two groups. Each faction was treated with the anti-hypertensive medication Ramipril, with one of the groups also receiving pycnogenol. All patients included in the study had an average urinary protein level of 89 mg per 24-hour period, considerably surpassing the 30 mg measure that is associated with healthy kidney function.
After six months of follow-up, the researchers found that the average protein level decreased to 64 mg per day, while the pycnogenol group had a mean of only 39 mg per 24-hour period.
"While Ramipril represents an effective treatment for hypertension and its interrelated effects on kidney function, pycnogenol as an adjunct to the medication produced significantly greater results, particularly for kidney function restoration," concluded lead researcher Gianni Belcaro.
An earlier study by the same research team found that pycnogenol also improves circulation, reduces swelling and boosts visual acuity in diabetic patients.