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Pycnogenol May Help Reduce Muscular Cramps and Pain

  • Authors: News Author: Laurie Barclay, MD
    CME Author: Charles Vega, MD, FAAFP
  • CME Released: 6/20/2006; Reviewed and Renewed: 6/20/2007
  • Valid for credit through: 6/20/2008
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Target Audience and Goal Statement

This article is intended for primary care clinicians, sports medicine specialists, vascular surgeons, endocrinologists, rheumatologists, and other specialists who care for patients with cramps and muscular pain.

The goal of this activity is to provide medical news to primary care clinicians and other healthcare professionals in order to enhance patient care.

Upon completion of this activity, participants will be able to:

  • List conditions that may be improved with the use of Pycnogenol.
  • Identify the effects of Pycnogenol on cramping and muscular pain among patients with various underlying conditions.



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  • Laurie Barclay, MD

    Laurie Barclay is a freelance reviewer and writer for Medscape.


    Laurie Barclay, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.


  • Gary Vogin, MD

    Senior Medical Editor, Medscape


    Disclosure: Gary Vogin, MD, has disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

CME Author(s)

  • Charles P Vega, MD

    Associate Professor; Residency Director, Department of Family Medicine, University of California, Irvine


    Disclosure: Charles Vega, MD, FAAFP, has disclosed that he has received grants for educational activities from Pfizer.

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Pycnogenol May Help Reduce Muscular Cramps and Pain

Authors: News Author: Laurie Barclay, MD CME Author: Charles Vega, MD, FAAFPFaculty and Disclosures

CME Released: 6/20/2006; Reviewed and Renewed: 6/20/2007

Valid for credit through: 6/20/2008


June 20, 2006 -- Pycnogenol is effective in reducing cramps and muscle pain at rest and before and after exercise in both patients with vascular disease and in otherwise healthy athletes, according to the results of a study reported in the June issue of Angiology.

"With the millions of athletes worldwide, this truly is a profound breakthrough and extremely significant for all individuals interested in muscle cramp and pain relief with a natural approach," coauthor Peter Rohdewald, MD, from the University of Muenster in Germany, said in a news release. "These findings indicate that Pycnogenol can play an important role in sports by improving blood flow to the muscles and hastening post-exercise recovery."

In the first part of the study, 66 healthy subjects took four 50-mg Pycnogenol capsules (total dose, 200 mg/day) and were instructed to drink at least 1.5 L of water daily. The difference between number of cramp attacks recorded within the 2 weeks before starting Pycnogenol and the number of episodes during the fourth ( P < .05) and fifth ( P < .05) week were statistically significant.

In healthy subjects, the average number of cramping episodes decreased from 4.8 ± 1.2 events per week to 1.3 ± 1.1 at 4 weeks ( P < .05). In patients with vascular disease, the episodes decreased from 6.3 ± 1.1 to 2.6 ± 0.4 per week ( P < .05). In athletes, the number of episodes decreased from 8.6 ± 2 to 2.4 ± 0.5 ( P <. 05). At 5 weeks, all 3 groups had decreases to levels lower than before consumption of Pycnogenol ( P < .05).

During the second part of the study, 47 patients with intermittent claudication and diabetic microangiopathy were evaluated and treated for 1 week with Pycnogenol or placebo after a 2-week run-in phase. There was a significant decrease in cramping episodes and in muscular pain in those patients receiving pycnogenol. Patients with diabetic microangiopathy had a 20.8% decrease in pain, and those with claudication had a 21% decrease while supplementing with pycnogenol. Patients receiving placebo had no decrease in pain.

"Pycnogenol improves the blood supply to muscle tissue creating a relief effect on muscle cramping and pain," Dr. Rohdewald says. "Nitric oxide (NO) a blood gas, is well known to enhance blood flow and Pycnogenol may be influencing the activity of NO. The insufficient production of NO is the common denominator responsible for impaired blood flow in vascular disease."

Angiology. 2006;57:331-339

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