Can French Pine Bark Treat Asthma?

While some experts are skeptical, other people swear by pine bark and believe that it brings a number of benefits including better control of asthma symptoms.

Benefits of French Pine Bark

French pine bark extract is often sold in a tonic form. It's said to have properties that help to relieve the inflammation that goes along with asthma and other common chronic conditions. The bark also contains very high levels of antioxidants called procyanidins, which may prevent some diseases from developing.

A number of studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of using French pine bark extract to help manage asthma, allergies, and other ailments, and many of the findings seemed very promising.

One study published in 2004 looked at pine bark supplements for asthma and it revealed that asthmatics who used pine bark regularly for a three-month period experienced improvement in pulmonary function that exceeded that of participants using a placebo. The pine bark users with asthma also needed their inhalers less often.

Questioning the Study Results

On the flip side, critics of French pine bark cite a recent review included in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews that says studies on the benefits of French pine bark extract have been flawed and the results showing the benefits aren't reliable. The concerns about the validity are based on the fact that some of the research studies have been conducted on too small a pool of participants to be truly meaningful. Some conflicts also exist when it comes to how the studies were financed, which compromises their integrity.

What This Means for You

If you want to try French pine bark extract for yourself, you may want to discuss it with your doctor first. There's no guarantee that the French pine bark will improve your symptoms, but it probably won't hurt you either.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that French pine bark could possibly be safe for people to take daily for up to six months, but it's important to be on the lookout for any side effects. Problems include headache, dizziness, and ulcers of the mouth. If you experience any of these symptoms, stop taking the extract right away and check with your doctor.



Sources: "Pine Bark Extract." 28 Nov. 2008. Web. 19 April 2012.

O'Connor, Anahad. "Really? Questions About French Pine Bark." 12 March 2012. Web. 17 April 2012.

O'Connor, Anahad. "Well; Really? The Claim: French pine park can relieve asthma and other chronic conditions. 13 March 2012. Web. 17 April 2012.