L'AQUILA, Italy, March 31 (UPI) -- The plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree has kidney benefits in metabolic syndrome patients, researchers in Italy said.
Lead researcher Dr. Peter Rohdewald says the L'Aquila Hospital in Italy investigated 58 hypertensive patients who presented all of the criteria for diagnosis of metabolic syndrome -- hypertension, high blood lipids, high fasting blood glucose and obesity.
In addition, all patients showed early signs of kidney problems as judged by elevated amounts of proteins -- albumin -- present in their urine.
Patients were divided into two groups -- with one told to follow a healthier lifestyle with dietary improvements, moderate exercise and effective management of health risk factors. Both groups were treated with anti-hypertensive medication Ramipril -- 5 mg twice a day -- with one group of 31 patients taking Pycnogenol -- pine bark -- in addition to the medication.
The group taking Pycnogenol took 50 mg tablets three times a day for a total dosage of 150 mg of Pycnogenol per day.
The study, scheduled to be published in the June issue of Panminerva Medica, found average blood pressure in the Ramipril group was lowered to 128.2/90.2 millimeter of mercury, while those in the group taking Pycnogenol with Ramipril reached 122.2/85.3 mmHg after six months of treatment.
With Ramipril, urinary protein decreased by 22 percent and but with Pycnogenol it decreased by 52.7 percent -- with the high average fasting blood glucose level at 135.6 mg/dL at baseline, while those who took Pycnogenol reached a healthy value 102.3 mg/dL after six months, the study says.