A study in the Journal of Nutrition Research suggests that pine bark extract, Pycnogenol, can reduce pain and stiffness in joints.

Delving into the research on this ingredient a little further it seems that Pycnogenol? could provide many benefits for the cyclist, with some early research indicating an increase in endurance of up to 21% and a lowering in muscular pain during and after exercise.

The evidence

This latest study on Pycnogenol was conducted on osteoarthritis sufferers and involved 38 patients suffering with this condition. The results showed a 52 percent improvement in physical function with pain and physical function scores improving after 60 to 90 days of supplementation.

Subjects in the group taking Pycnogenol also reported a significant reduction in monthly intake of non steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and COX-2 inhibitors. Researchers proposed that the mechanism of action might be due to pine bark extracts anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties.

With further research papers associated with this extract showing benefits of reduced muscle cramping and improved endurance in exercise tests, researchers conclude that ?the experience from several clinical trials suggests that Pycnogenol is effective in protecting the muscle from harm during sports, enhancing performance, speeding recovery and allowing for faster retraining?.

Layman Lowdown

Although this latest piece of research relates to osteoarthritis sufferers, which may not be relevant to the majority of cyclists, Pycnogenol has also been studied for its benefits for those with no pre-existing conditions, showing anti-inflammatory benefits here too.

This has implications for general joint recovery from exercise as well as for general health, as inflammation is linked with many disease conditions.

There are over 100 studies on this ingredient highlighting how its anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can positively impact on many conditions (asthma, lupus, general muscle soreness etc) with an exhausting list of benefits which even includes combating wrinkles and providing anti-aging benefits.

CW says

Pycnogenol is available in over 400 dietary supplements and provides a host of health and performance benefits which make it a worthwhile investment, particularly for those experiencing joint pain.

Benefits for the joints however, are shown, after repeated use of upwards from three months so doesn?t expect to get results after a couple of days of pill popping! The recommended dose is 50mg to 100mg taken with meals.