News / Health

Popular Supplement Fails to Lower Blood Pressure

New tests dispute prior findings of studies on pine bark extract

Multimedia

Audio
Art Chimes

Previous research has shown an array of benefits from taking pine bark extract, but a new study questions that.
Previous research has shown an array of benefits from taking pine bark extract, but a new study questions that.

A new study of a popular dietary supplement indicates that, while pine bark extract is safe, it has no significant effect on blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease. This new research seems to contradict evidence from earlier studies.

Previous research has shown an array of benefits from taking pine bark extract, ranging from reducing inflammation to treating skin disorders and menstrual symptoms. It is reported to have antioxidant properties and to help lower blood pressure, as well.



To test out some of the claims, Stanford University researcher Randall Stafford and colleagues recruited people who were overweight and had blood pressure slightly higher than normal — in other words, people likely to try a dietary supplement rather than expensive prescription drugs.

People in the study were randomly assigned to either take pine bark extract or a look-alike placebo.

After 12 weeks, the researchers found essentially no benefit from the supplement.

"We in fact found no difference between the pine bark extract group and the placebo group," said Stafford. "There were very small changes in blood pressure. And in fact, there was a slightly greater reduction in blood pressure among the placebo group, but it was a change that could have easily been explained by random chance."

Stafford says the results were surprising, because previous studies had shown some cardiovascular benefit. But he noted that there were problems with the methodology in the earlier studies, which were not placebo-controlled, double-blind trials like his was.

Also, products sold as "pine bark extract" can be made in a variety of ways and are not all the same, since these sorts of nutritional supplements are only loosely regulated, at least here in the U.S.

"There are a number of different pine bark extracts out on the market. They are extracted or derived in different ways. It is possible that other pine bark might have benefits where this one doesn't," he said.

In the United States and many other countries, government officials don't require natural dietary supplements to be proven safe and effective, the way other drugs are.

Stafford says his study illustrates how flimsy the scientific basis is for claims made by sellers of and advocates for many different supplements.

"Much of the expenditure on dietary supplements are for products that really don't have rigorous data supporting their use."

The study by Stanford researcher Randall Stafford and colleagues is published in the American Medical Association journal, Archives of Internal Medicine.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid