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Pine bark extracts show promise for treating arthritis

Finnish researchers recently studied the Scotch pine Pinus sylvestris as a source of anti-inflammatory compounds. The work parallels work done on another species of pine, Pinus pinaster. Both species turn out to be rich in antioxidant compounds. (Pinus pinaster, in fact, is the source of a product called Pycnogenol which is used for its cardiovascular benefits.)

The Finnish research team studied 28 different compounds from the Scotch pine and determined that some of them were highly effective as anti-inflammatories. Experimenting with these compounds in mice suggested that they are good candidates as anti-arthritis drugs.

Of course, you won’t see these drugs anytime soon — probably not ever, since it now costs something like a billion dollars to bring a drug to market past the obstacles set up by government bureaucracies like the FDA. On the other hand, you can already buy these same compounds in a nutritional supplement called ‘Pine bark extract’ at a fraction of the price they would cost as prescription drugs. Does something seem amiss here?

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