Pine bark extract appears to be an effective supplement to boost the body's production of nitric oxide, a chemical essential for normal erectile function, says a new study in Hypertension Research.
Pycnogenol, an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, works by enhancing nitric oxide (NO) production which leads to an increase in blood flow and oxygen supply. "This study suggests that when taking Pycnogenol, more NO is provided in response to neurotransmitters allowing for better expansion of arteries to carry more blood," said Dr. Yukihito Higashi, lead researcher of the study. "These results also lead me to determine that Pycnogenol will be a useful natural alternative therapy."
To identify Pycnogenol's effect on the release of NO, an inhibitor of the amino acid L-arginine was infused in patients, which restricts the expansion of arteries in response to the neurotransmitter acytelcholine. After supplementation with Pycnogenol, results revealed blood flow increased in response to acetylcholine stimulation by 42 percent.
"Acetylcholine stimulates the cells of arteries to produce NO from L-arginine faster," Dr. Higashi said. "In turn, the NO causes the muscle surrounding arteries to relax, which results in an increase of blood vessel diameters." A number of previous studies about Pycnogenol found it improved blood circulation and supported a lasting aerobic muscle activity during any kind of activity and enhance sports endurance by alleviating cramping and muscular pain in athletes.
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Source: Hypertension Research