Not long after Jacques Masquelier discovered, in the 1940s, that the bark of the pine tree Pinus pinaster contained proanthocyanidins, extracts of Pinus pinaster appeared on the market under names such as Pycnogenol and Flavangenol. They are good for many things – but, say Japanese researchers, they are good for even more: the Japanese discovered that you can use Pycnogenol as a slimming supplement.
The researchers did experiments with a type of lab mouse that easily puts on weight and develops diabetes [TSOD]. A control group consisted of mice that don’t put on weight easily or develop diabetes [TSNO].
The Japanese gave an experimental TSOD and a control group of TSNO mice standard food [MF]. Three other TSOD groups were given food containing extra fat [WTD]. Of these, one TSOD-WTD group got food that contained three percent Pycnogenol [actually it was Flavangenol, but for ease we’ve called it Pycnogenol here], and another TSOD group got food consisting of five percent Pycnogenol.
The researchers used an extract made by Toyo Shinyaku. [toyoshinyaku.co.jp] The experiment lasted eight weeks.
Pycnogenol reduced the weight increase in the WTD groups, as the figure above shows. The anti-obesity effect of Pycnogenol was not accompanied by a rise in blood pressure, from which you can deduce that the slimming effect of Pycnogenol is not based on an adrenalin-type effect.
The figure below shows how Pycnogenol prevented a weight increase of the liver. In overweight people the liver has a hard time and fat deposits cause it to increase in size. You can also see that Pycnogenol reduced mainly the unhealthy abdominal fat, and also the growth of subcutaneous fat reserves.
Pycnogenol also inhibited the rise of morning glucose and insulin levels in the blood, and inhibited a rise in concentration of the inflammatory protein TNF-alpha. However, the Japanese don’t know what these effects mean about the way in which Pycnogenol works. Going by previously published studies they suspect that Pycnogenol at least inhibits the enzyme pancreatic lipase, and as a result makes the intestines absorb fewer nutrients.
The research was financed by the Japanese government.