Pycnogenol, a patented extract of French maritime pine bark, appears to protect against deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and conditions associated with long-haul flights, say researchers. DVT is caused by a blood clot that partially or completely blocks blood flow in a vein, often in the leg. It is caused by a pooling of blood in the area, most often due to immobility such as that experienced on long airline flights where seating is cramped.
Studies show that on long-haul flights up to 10% of passengers may experience DVT, though the majority of cases remain symptomless as the developed clot spontaneously dissolves before it affects blood flow. However, thrombosis may be fatal when the blood clot is dislodged and blocks the branches of arteries in the lungs (pulmonary embolism).
The new trial included 198 subjects who either supplemented with 200 mg of Pycnogenol or a placebo 2-3 hours prior to a long-haul flight, 200 mg six hours later in mid-flight and 100 mg the day after flying. The average flight time was eight hours and 15 minutes.
Researchers found that Pycnogenol treatment was effective in protecting against thrombotic events (DVT and superficial vein thrombosis, or SVT) in moderate- to high-risk subjects during long-haul flights as compared to the placebo group.
“Travel-related DVT and SVT are preventable conditions. Pycnogenol is one of the most powerful natural antioxidants available today and has the ability to control the permeability of capillary walls, preventing edema, inhibiting platelet aggregation and ultimately reducing thrombotic events,” said study author Peter Rohdewald.
Clinical Applied Thrombosis/Hemostasis 10(4):373-7