Pine Bark Reduces Tinnitus and Vertigo in Meniere’s Disease
Research from Italy’s University of Chieti-Pescara has determined that a patented pine bark extract significantly treats tinnitus and vertigo symptoms involved in Meniere’s disease.
What is Meniere’s disease?
Ménière’s disease is a type of vertigo caused by a condition of the inner ear, discovered by the French doctor, Prosper Ménière in the mid-nineteenth century.
Dr. Ménière found the vertigo disorder, which produces a low-pitched tinnitus of varying intensity depending upon the person and the degree of the condition; can eventually result in a complete loss of hearing.
Symptoms include periodic headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting along with vertigo attacks that can last hours to weeks.
Pine Bark Extract Treatment for Six Months
The researchers tested 120 patients with Ménière’s disease, with varying intensity of vertigo and tinnitus symptoms.
Along with others, the researchers listed the following main symptoms among the patients:
- Loss of hearing
- Spontaneous vertigo
- Positional vertigo
- Ear pressure
- Unsteady gait
The researchers split the 107 patients into two groups (one group of 55 and another of 52) and for six months, and both groups were given what is called “best available management” which means conventional treatment.
In addition, one group was given 150 milligrams per day of Pycnogenol – a patented pine bark extract from the French Maritime tree.
The other group was given only the “best available management.”
The researchers monitored all of the patients for symptoms of Ménière’s disease, including tinnitus and vertigo. They found that after three months of treatment, the pine bark extract group showed significantly better improvement than the control group. A full 45 percent of the pine bark extract group had a complete recovery after three months compared to 23 percent of the placebo group.
After six months, a full 87 percent of the pine bark extract group experienced recovery – became asymptomatic. Meanwhile, 34 percent of the control group (conventional treatment) recovered after six months.
The researchers also specifically measured tinnitus symptoms and found that tinnitus was significantly reduced in the pine bark group, significantly more than the control group.
Furthermore, the researchers found that what is called cochlear flow was significantly improved in the “best management” group.
What is cochlear flow?
This is also called cochlear blood flow. When the pressure in the fluid within the inner ear is significantly different than normal, this can reduce cochlear blood flow.
Low cochlear blood flow is reduced in a number of disorders – including positional vertigo and Ménière’s disease, but also including different types of loss of hearing such as sensorineural hearing loss.
In fact, decreased cochlear blood flow is known to result in hearing loss.
One of the reasons for this is there is a delicate balance of nutrients among the inner ear fluids. There are in fact several channels or sections of inner ear fluids, including the perilymph that lies within the vestibuli and tympani regions and the endolymph within the cochlear duct.
The endolymph fluid is high in potassium ions while the perilymph is high in sodium and low in potassium ions. These ionic fluids help transport the flow of information by the use of ion potential changes.
Blood flow access to these regions helps keep them properly nourished and allows waste product removal – along with helping to neutralize free radicals.
Pine bark extract increases artery blood flow
Pycnogenol has been shown in other research to significantly increase blood flow, reduce free radicals within the blood and decrease artery oxidation. This was found in study of 23 coronary artery disease patients. The patients were given 200 milligrams per day of Pycnogenol for 8 weeks and crossed over with a placebo.
The research found the pine bark extract significantly increased flow-mediated dilatation within the arteries and significantly reduced oxidation within the blood.
These two factors are significantly related to the effect of the pine bark extract upon hearing.
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Nakashima T, Naganawa S, Sone M, Tominaga M, Hayashi H, Yamamoto H, Liu X, Nuttall AL. Disorders of cochlear blood flow. Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2003 Sep;43(1):17-28.
Enseleit F, Sudano I, Périat D, Winnik S, Wolfrum M, Flammer AJ, Fröhlich GM, Kaiser P, Hirt A, Haile SR, Krasniqi N, Matter CM, Uhlenhut K, Högger P, Neidhart M, Lüscher TF, Ruschitzka F, Noll G. Effects of Pycnogenol on endothelial function in patients with stable coronary artery disease: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, cross-over study. Eur Heart J. 2012 Jul;33(13):1589-97. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehr482.