pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) improves symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Parkinson’s is a common disease that causes parts of the brain to deteriorate. Recent research is pointing to a safe, well known natural supplement as a possibly important part of the solution.

Parkinson’s disease is an age-related brain condition. The risk increases as you age with the average age of onset being 60. It is slightly more common in males. Parkinson’s is the second most common age-related degenerative brain diseases and the most common movement-related brain disease. It affects at least 1% of people over age 60 globally.

Parkinson’s affects the nervous system and causes tremors, stiffness and slowing of movement. Your face may become more expressionless, your arms may stop swinging when you walk and speech can become soft or slurred.

Safe help would be very welcome.

In 2020, research began to suggest that pine bark extract (Pycnogenol) could help. Pine bark is a rich source of powerful flavonoid antioxidants known as proanthocyanidins. A small study of 43 people with mild to moderate Parkinson’s were given either the drugs carbidopa/levodopa alone or with 50mg of Pycnogenol for 4 weeks.

The addition of pine bark extract led to significantly greater improvement in symptoms. Scores for cognitive function were significantly higher in the pine bark group. The pine bark also significantly lowered free radical damage. Scores for all Parkinson’s symptoms—cognitive, postural and motor—were better with the addition of pine bark extract (J Neurosurg Sci. 2020 Jun;64(3):258-262).

Now a just published study has added to the evidence. 79 people with Parkinson’s were given either standard treatment or standard treatment plus 150mg a day of Pycnogenol for 8 weeks.

The addition of Pycnogenol led to significantly greater improvement on the Karnofsky performance scale index, a measure of functional impairment. Free radical damage and peripheral edoedema both improved significantly more in the pine bark group.

Scores for Parkinson’s symptoms, including tremor, slowness of movement, rigidity, cognition and speech impairment, all improved significantly more in the pine bark group. Pine bark also led to significantly greater improvement in facial expression, including asymmetry, facial responses and altered emotional pattern (J Neurosurg Sci. 2022 Aug ;66(4):371-377).

Taken together, these two studies begin to point to Pycnogenol as a safe supplement to improve most of the symptoms of Parkinson’s.


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For much more on treating Parkinson’s naturally, see our book The Family Naturopathic Encyclopedia.

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