Results of a new study suggest that pycnogenol, an antioxidant extract derived from the bark of French maritime pine trees, may safely reduce the severity of symptoms associated with hay fever.
For the study, Canadian researchers randomly assigned 60 confirmed allergy sufferers to take a pill form of pycnogenol or a placebo twice daily for the entirety of hay fever season. Patients in each group were allowed to use non-prescription antihistamines during the study period.
Throughout the course of the treatment, participants had blood taken and were asked to record the severity of their symptoms by filling out self-administered questionnaires.
At the conclusion of the study, the average nasal and eye symptom score for those taking the natural supplement was much lower than that of the control group. Furthermore, study group participants had significantly lower levels of IgE antibodies, which correspond to the severity of hay fever symptoms.
The investigators also found that only 12.5 percent of participants who were randomly assigned to take pycnogenol felt the need to take non-prescription antihistamines during the study. In contrast, nearly 50 percent of those in the placebo group took allergy medications.
"For the many people seeking alternatives to conventional treatment for [hay fever], pycnogenol may represent an effective and completely natural solution, void of any side effects" said lead author Malkanthi Evans.